7. Regina v. WSW [Calgary Provincial Court, June 2019]

A joint forces operation involving the RCMP and Medicine Hat Police Service (MHPS) commenced an investigation in the Fall of 2016 into the drug trafficking activities of a dial-a-dope operation centred in Gleichen and Strathmore, Alberta. According to the police, between December 14, 2016 and March 8, 2017 an undercover officer of the MHPS purchased various quantities of cocaine from WSW on no less than six occasions. WSW was ultimately arrested and charged with the following offences:

Count 1: Trafficking in cocaine contrary to Section 5(1) of the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act.

Count 2: Trafficking in cocaine contrary to Section 5(1) of the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act.

Count 3: Trafficking in cocaine contrary to Section 5(1) of the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act.

Count 4: Trafficking in cocaine contrary to Section 5(1) of the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act.

Count 5: Trafficking in cocaine contrary to Section 5(1) of the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act.

Count 6: Trafficking in cocaine contrary to Section 5(1) of the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act.

Count 7: Possession of cocaine for the purpose of trafficking contrary to Section 5(2) of the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act.

Count 8: Possession of cocaine for the purpose of trafficking contrary to Section 5(2) of the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act.

As WSW was facing a lengthy period of imprisonment IF convicted, he retained the services of Patrick Fagan.

Pleas of not guilty were entered to all charges and a full-week trial scheduled in Calgary Provincial Court.

As the evidence for the prosecution involved multiple direct hand-to-hand drug transactions to the same undercover officer over an extended period of time, the odds of success from a defence perspective were miserable. As expected, the undercover officer took the stand during the course of trial proceedings, boldly pointed to WSW in the Courtroom and testified under oath that he “recognized” WSW as the person from whom he purchased cocaine on multiple occasions. The undercover office also went so far as to state that he had searched WSW’s Facebook profile where he observed multiple photographs and was able to identify WSW from those photographs.

In addition to ostensibly nailing “identification” down by way of the sworn testimony of the undercover officer aforesaid, the police had the suspect’s vehicle stopped a very short time after the first undercover transaction. During the course of this so-called traffic stop, a uniformed member of the RCMP obtained the name and DOB of the driver — “WSW”.

Notwithstanding what appeared to be an overwhelming case for the prosecution, cross-examination yielded multiple shortcomings in the investigation which ultimately resulted in the case falling apart. The undercover officer, for example, made exceedingly poor notes regarding the physical characteristics of the cocaine dealer and (to make matters worse) the uniformed RCMP officer conducting the traffic stop of the suspect vehicle (after Buy #1) failed to make the notes necessary to confirm the identity of the driver of the suspect vehicle.

Bottom Line: After a hard-fought one week trial verdicts of not guilty were entered on all charges.

For those of you who may be interested in reviewing a portion of the trial proceedings (in particular, the direct and cross-examination by Patrick Fagan of the all-important undercover officer) a transcript of those proceedings can be accessed by Clicking Here: Part 1, Part 2 (continues at page 47).

As for a copy of the Provincial Judge’s Reasons for Judgment, a transcript of that decision can be accessed by Clicking Here.