A Lower Mainland man was handed a 36-month probation sentence after selling heroin and fentanyl to an undercover Victoria police officer.
Karan Dewat, who was 18 years old at the time of the offence, pleaded guilty to trafficking charges in May 2017.
According to a sentencing report, the Victoria Police Department had been conducting an undercover operation and came across the phone number of someone only referred to as a “young person.” They called that person to set up a time and place to meet for an undercover officer to purchase $40 worth of heroin.
When officers arrived, Dewat was in the front passenger seat of the young person’s car. The undercover officer asked if the heroin had any fentanyl in it, to which the young person replied, “We only offer fentanyl if someone asks for it.”
The officer then said he was interested in fentanyl, at which point Dewat piped up to confirm fentanyl was in the heroin the officer had just purchased, and that they usually don’t like telling people beforehand because “most people did not like fentanyl.”
The conversation ended with the pair telling the officer he could call them anytime for more drugs.
According to court documents, Dewat lives with his parents on the Lower Mainland. He is employed and completing his Grade 12 education, with a number of advanced courses.
As a child, he was a gifted athlete, but started to get into trouble with drugs in Grade 8 after not adapting well to a move.
By his mid-teens, he was spending all the money he could get on drugs, and by Grade 12, was expelled from school after drug paraphernalia was found in his locker.
Dewat began associating with gang members and racked up a drug debt of $2,000, which was later escalated by the gang to $13,000, known as “interest payments” – a standard pattern of gang culture used to conscript young members.
He was forced to give his BMW to another gang member as partial satisfaction of the debt and began selling drugs to make up the rest.
He would later develop a heavy addiction for Xanax and marijuana.
At the time of his 2017 arrest, Dewat had been assigned to travel to Victoria to sell drugs, which he said he had no idea how to do.
“He accepts that he knew what he was doing was not right, but also that he was terrified of the gang members who threatened both him and his family if he didn’t continue to sell narcotics and live the gang life,” Province court Justice Mayland McKimm said in the ruling.
Dewat was consciously and deliberately declining to warn his consumers of the risks of his drugs – specifically those involved with fentanyl, McKimm wrote, and if Dewat older, this would be seen as a complete disregard for human life and demand a significant federal sentence.
“I’m satisfied, however, that in the case of Mr. Dewat, this statement was more one of bravado as a result of his complete lack of ability or capacity to understand the seriousness of his criminal offending,” the judge said.
“I’m supported in this conclusion by the evidence of his profound sense of remorse and regret for his behaviour, not only as a result of the consequences to he and his family, but also that he had caused significant risk to his community.”
Dewat will spend his first 18 months under house arrest, only allowing him to leave for employment or schooling and once a day for physical fitness, following by 30 hours of community service and participation in a restorative justice program.
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