A Victoria man has been sentenced to 45 months in jail for his part in attempting to traffic a quarter-kilogram of the powerful opioid fentanyl.
Micah McClure pleaded guilty in June to possessing heroin, cocaine and fentanyl for the purpose of trafficking. McClure, 40, was arrested along with his co-accused Tristan Jenkins on Nov. 29, 2017, as they made their way from Nanaimo to Victoria in a taxi.
At the time, Victoria police said the large amount of fentanyl was enough to kill thousands of people.
Victoria provincial court Judge Christine Lowe imposed the 45-month sentence, saying McClure has a high degree of moral culpability and showed a wilful blindness to the harm caused by the opioid crisis.
“The court takes note of the significant consequences to individuals and communities arising out of the proliferation of fentanyl,” she said. “There is a fentanyl crisis. Everyone is well aware of it. People are overdosing and, in many cases, dying.”
Court heard that Jenkins was the target of a drug-trafficking investigation. On Nov. 29, 2017, McClure went to Vancouver with Jenkins. They returned to Vancouver Island 90 minutes later on the ferry to Nanaimo.
McClure was carrying a satchel with four bags. Police seized 54 grams of a heroin-fentanyl mixture with caffeine, 110 grams of cocaine, 110 grams of a fentanyl-caffeine mixture and 111 grams of a fentanyl-caffeine mixture. The purity of the fentanyl was analyzed and found to be extremely high.
Although Jenkins didn’t have any drugs on his person, he was charged with the same offences.
Texts between the two men show McClure was clearly taking directions from Jenkins, said Lowe. McClure admitted he picked up the drugs and was transporting them back to the Island.
Defence lawyer Jared Faber described McClure’s involvement as a “flat-fee situation.”
A pre-sentence report prepared for the court revealed McClure had an abusive and chaotic childhood and all the children in his family left home at a very early age. McClure has struggled with addiction and depression for many years and self-medicates. He has a lengthy criminal record and has served significant jail sentences, including federal time for break-and-enter and robberies.
The defence asked for a 40-month sentence. “Mr. McClure had no prior drug trafficking convictions and made consistent efforts at rehabilitation and treatment for his own addictions during his nearly two years in pre-sentence custody and he expressed genuine remorse,” Faber said.
Crown prosecutor Tom Corsi asked for a six- to-seven year sentence. B.C. courts have set a sentencing range for mid-level trafficking of 28 months to seven years.
The fact fentanyl was involved is extremely aggravating, said Lowe. The amount of fentanyl, the purity of the fentanyl, McClure’s criminal record and the fact he committed these offences for profit are also aggravating factors.
In mitigation, McClure, who has lost two friends to the overdose crisis, expressed shame and embarrassment at his own involvement in the drug trafficking venture, said Lowe. “He has felt the harm that comes from that,” she said, adding that McClure has accepted responsibility and she believed he is genuinely remorseful for his actions.
McClure wrote a letter to the court expressing his remorse and a sincere desire to create a better life for himself. “He stated that his arrest may have saved his life,” said Lowe. “I think he is sincere when he said that.”
McClure received a credit of 32 months for the time he has spent in custody. This means he must serve a further 13 months in jail. He was ordered to give a sample of his DNA and to forfeit $1,140 in cash found on his person when he was arrested. Lowe also imposed a lifetime weapons prohibition.
“The sentencing range on fentanyl-related offences has been trending upward in recent years due to the severity of the fentanyl crisis,” Faber said in an interview after the sentencing. “This sentence reflects that broader trend but it also reflects Mr. McClure's individual circumstances. I believe the judge struck a fair balance under difficult and complex circumstances.”
Jenkins went to trial and was convicted on Aug. 19. He is awaiting sentence.