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Alberta Court of Appeal sets minimum sentence for wholesale fentanyl trafficking

Last Updated Nov 29, 2019 at 5:49 am MST

Fentanyl pills are shown in an undated police handout photo. Traffickers are exploiting Canadian money service businesses to buy deadly fentanyl from overseas and then launder the proceeds through banks and credit unions, warns the national financial intelligence agency.THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO - Alberta Law Enforcement Response Teams (ALERT) MANDATORY CREDIT

Alberta’s Court of Appeal has ruled that convictions for wholesale fentanyl trafficking should get a minimum sentence of nine years.

The unanimous ruling by five justices comes out of a Crown appeal in the case of Patrick Felix.

Court documents note that Felix pleaded guilty to four counts of trafficking in fentanyl and cocaine.

He was charged in 2015 after multiple sales to an undercover police officer in Fort McMurray.

Felix was sentenced to seven years in prison, but the Crown won its appeal that asked the court to establish a starting point sentence and alleging errors in the Felix case.

The Appeal Court set a starting point of nine years and increased Felix’s overall sentence to 10 years.

“Mr. Felix’s role was at the top of his organization, which is a weighty aggravating factor,” said the decision released Thursday.

“He energetically ran a business that was structured to maximize profit while minimizing the chance of criminal consequences to himself.

“He was responsible for pouring poison into his own community and potentially others, jeopardizing the health and lives of untold numbers of end users.”

A second appeal by the Crown that involved fentanyl trafficking was heard by the same panel of justices.

Cameron O’Lynn Parranto, who initially received 11 years in prison for eight offences, saw his total sentence increased to 14 years.

The court noted in the Felix decision that fentanyl trafficking has created a crisis in Alberta and across the country.