An expert testified that the drugs — probably purchased from a Mexican drug cartel — had an estimated street value of $20 million.
It was a potential payoff of more than $500,000 that motivated a Canadian sailboat captain to smuggle 250 kilograms of cocaine into Nova Scotia from a small Caribbean island, a judge said Friday as he sentenced Jacques John Grenier to 13 years in prison.
"It was just greed, Mr. Grenier, plain and simple," provincial court Judge Gregory Lenehan told the 69-year-old man.
Grenier, who moved to Nova Scotia in 2015 and was unemployed, had earlier pleaded guilty to two charges: possession for the purposes of trafficking cocaine and importing cocaine. A third charge, conspiracy to import cocaine, was withdrawn.
Lenehan said he took into account Grenier's age, his guilty pleas and the fact that he is battling skin cancer. But the judge said a double-digit sentence was needed to discourage others from using Nova Scotia's craggy coastline as a "soft target" for drug smugglers.
"You're coming to your sunset years," Lenehan told Grenier, a tall, thin man with a swarm of surgical scars above his left eye. "You don't have 30 or 40 years left."
Grenier, a resident of Hubbards, N.S., was arrested late on Sept. 3 after officers with the Canada Border Services Agency boarded his 9.7-metre sailboat Quesera at a small marina near Halifax. Court heard Grenier had sailed the vessel solo from the Dutch side of Sint Maarten, an island east of the Virgin Islands.
Tomeo, a former staff sergeant who worked in the RCMP's Montreal drug unit for more than 25 years, said the amount of cocaine Grenier was carrying indicated he had strong contacts within the cartel.
"It shows a high level of trust in the individual," Tomeo testified. "And it's extremely rare that this is done alone."
However, Tomeo later told defence lawyer Patrick MacEwen there was no direct evidence that Grenier had done this sort of thing before, even though the experienced sailor had admitted to crossing paths with drug dealers during his travels abroad.
Grenier's sentencing was delayed several times because he underwent surgery and switched lawyers. His sentence was reduced by one year because he had already spent eight months in custody.
A Quebec man, Luc Chevrefils, is also charged in the case. He is expected to stand trial in August.
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Source : CBC News Canada