Gavel

Penticton dial-a-doper rings up year in jail

Undercover member of RCMP drug squad arranged two small buys in parking lot of local grocery store

Joe Fries

Western News Staff

An RCMP sting operation helped put a Penticton dial-a-doper behind bars for a year.

Dwayne Lee Gabriel, 27, was sentenced Monday to one year in jail after pleading guilty to two offences related to trafficking small amounts of cocaine. He was handed a concurrent 45-day sentence for breach of a previous court order.

Crown counsellor Ashleigh Baylis told the court Gabriel was already on police radar when “a source” gave the Penticton RCMP drug squad Gabriel’s phone number and said he was running a dial-a-dope operation.

On Nov. 23, 2012, an undercover officer called the number and later met Gabriel in the Safeway parking lot, where the Mountie purchased 0.71 grams of cocaine for $100.

A second transaction of 1.44 grams of cocaine for $200 was arranged for the same location on Dec. 10, and police arrested Gabriel on the spot.

Baylis said he was arrested again on Sept. 14, 2014, after police responded to a report of gunshots on the Penticton Indian Reserve and spotted Gabriel leaving the scene in a vehicle with two other people.

An officer detected an odour of liquor on Gabriel and found a bag containing 0.27 grams of cocaine in his pocket, in breach of his bail conditions.

Gabriel, who received 106 days’ credit for time served since his September arrest, addressed the court through a letter read out by defence counsel Kathyrn Lundman.

“I take full responsibility for the crime I committed in the community,” he wrote, adding he was lured into the drug world by “fast cars, fast girls, fast money.”

He pledged to turn his life around for his daughter, born in November, and for whom sentencing was put off for several months.

“Once I saw a picture of my new baby girl, I had a spiritual awakening,” Gabriel said.

Judge Gale Sinclair said the letter displayed “some sense of maturity and remorse for the lifestyle he lived,” and also credited Gabriel with completing substance-abuse treatment, getting job training and finding work in Alberta.

“The conundrum I had… was what does one do with somebody who has basically rehabilitated himself, while at the same time taking into account the sentencing principles of denunciation and deterrence?” Sinclair said.

The judge noted, however, that Gabriel was sentenced to nine months in jail in February 2009 for possession for the purpose of trafficking and said a step up was required.

“You’ve just to pay back society for your wrongdoing,” Sinclair told Gabriel, “and I hope you have seen the light.”