A convicted heroin dealer will forfeit the cash he had on hand at the time of his arrest, despite his claim it was earmarked for living expenses.
James Wesley Yungen, 41, pleaded guilty this week in provincial court in Penticton to single counts of drug trafficking and resisting arrest, and was sentenced to one year in jail.
Crown counsellor Ashleigh Baylis told the court Yungen was arrested on Nov. 7, 2013, as a result of an undercover sting by the Penticton RCMP Drug Task Force.
Court heard Mounties received a tip that Yungen was dealing black tar heroin, so one of the officers, using a phone seized from another dealer, exchanged text messages with Yungen and arranged to buy 2.5 grams of heroin for $350.
Yungen agreed to complete the deal in a parking lot on Duncan Avenue West, where Mounties moved in for the arrest.
According to Baylis, Yungen “appeared to freeze for a brief second” when he saw the officers, then ran about 40 metres before he was taken down.
Court heard Mounties observed Yungen crush a plastic pill bottle underneath his body while he was laying on the ground after his arrest, and that no drugs were seized.
Baylis said black tar heroin resembles small pebbles and would have blended in with the gravel underneath Yungen. A drug-detection dog later hit on the pill bottle and the site of the arrest, she added.
Noting that Yungen was on probation for a break and enter conviction at the time of the arrest, plus had a criminal record with 25 prior convictions, including three for drug trafficking, Baylis asked for a one-year jail term.
Defence counsel Bob Maxwell noted his client’s last conviction for drug trafficking only attracted a 36-day sentence and suggested a nine-month jail term would be more appropriate.
Judge Vince Hogan disagreed and said while he appreciated Yungen’s guilty pleas, even “a run of the mill dial-a-dope operation for any substance is six to nine months right off the bat.”
Yungen told the court the $639.85 seized by officers at the time of his arrest was rent money, not proceeds from dealing, and asked for its return.
He said he had been evicted shortly before his arrest and managed to find a new place, which he planned to rent with the money he received after cashing a cheque for disability benefits.
The judge rejected that explanation.
“I don’t think I’ve ever seen a drug trafficker without cash on hand,” Hogan said.