A 26-year-old Crofton drug dealer described by a Nanaimo judge as acting like a “pure parasite and profiteer” has been sentenced to three years in jail.
Taygen Mitchell Edward Butler pleaded guilty to trafficking in heroin and fentanyl, possessing methamphetamine for the purposes of trafficking, and having a 12-gauge shotgun, contrary to the Firearms Act.
Butler had sold drugs three times to an RCMP undercover officer, with a total value of $3,750. In their final meeting in June 2018, he was arrested by a team of officers near the Crofton ferry terminal. At the time, he was carrying two ounces of heroin and fentanyl, valued at $4,100.
The drug sales took place amid an opioid-overdose crisis that has claimed thousands of lives in B.C.
During one of Butler’s conversations with the undercover officer, Butler said he “had ‘re-cut’ his current batch of inventory because it was too potent, and some of his buyers had overdosed,” B.C. Supreme Court Justice Robin Baird said in his May 11 sentencing decision.
After Butler’s arrest, RCMP searched the home he shares with his mother and seized methamphetamine, fentanyl, heroin, cocaine, two sets of brass knuckles, a taser, the shotgun, and paraphernalia such as 13 cellphones and three sets of scales.
The total value of the drugs found in the home was slightly more than $72,000.
Butler was not an addict and had told the undercover officer he was a mid-level dealer, Baird said. “He was acting as a pure parasite and a profiteer, pedalling lethal poisons to some of our most vulnerable citizens for the sole purpose of enriching himself.”
Butler did not deny telling the undercover officer that he knew his product was causing overdoses in the community, Baird said.
“This, Mr. Butler, is the thing that I just cannot get over. It is the aspect of this whole sorry affair that completely boggles my mind,” the judge said. “The accused knew that his product, at the very least, was causing extreme health problems in the community, and yet here he was selling the same product to the [undercover officer] in significant amounts, completely heedless of the consequences, his conscience completely untroubled by the likelihood of casualties.”
It is well-known that even small amounts of fentanyl pose a lethal threat, Baird said. “This substance is responsible for killing people in shocking numbers every year all over B.C., including in the Duncan area, a fact well-known and lamented by all of us who live here.”
Butler said he had been out of work and ran into an old friend who invited him to become part of the drug-dealing business.
He told a probation officer that “money came in hand over fist. I lost my morals. I got blinded by money. My moral compass was way off course. Selling drugs consumed me.”
Butler has been on bail for three years. He has no criminal record. A report from the probation officer said he accepts responsibility for what he did. “He expressed sincere regret and remorse for his unlawful behaviour. He said that he understands the destructive impact drug trafficking has on individuals, families, and society.”
The report said Butler feels an “almost constant overwhelming feeling of guilt and self-disgust.”
Baird said he accepts that Butler is remorseful, saying “he is disgusted by the depths of the moral depravity to which he descended while engaging in this vicious and poisonous trade. He is glad that he was arrested and stopped.”
The judge said Butler has potential, the support of family and friends, and good prospects for the future.
The Crown prosecutor had asked for a total sentence of five years and three months, but Baird chose a shorter sentence, telling Butler that he was “worth taking a qualified gamble on.”
“I am doing it, amongst other reasons, because you are a first-time offender, and I am cautiously optimistic about your future. “