Vancouver fentanyl kingpin sentenced to 14 years
Police said $1.5M worth of illicit drugs was seized in 'Project Tainted.'
Published Wednesday, February 1, 2017 2:25PM PST
A Metro Vancouver fentanyl dealer is facing more than a decade in prison, an unprecedented sentence for trafficking charges.
Walter James McCormick was sentenced Monday to 14 years imprisonment following an extended trial that focused on the province's opioid crisis. The Crown had recommended a sentence of 18 years in his case, calling the 53-year-old a "high-level drug trafficker."
McCormick pleaded guilty to trafficking and possession charges in August 2016.
In addition to the jail time, McCormick has a lifetime ban on firearms.
McCormick was one of 10 people arrested in a Vancouver police sting prompted by a spike in overdoses in the fall of 2014. The police operation, dubbed Project Tainted, targeted a fentanyl distribution network in the Lower Mainland.
Following McCormick's 2015 arrest, police searched his home and storage locker, and seized 27,000 fentanyl pills, four kilograms of cocaine, a kilogram of methamphetamine, other drugs, firearms and money.
A year later while he was out on bail, he was charged with more drug-related offences in Richmond, and local police said an additional 1,000 fentanyl pills were seized. He received a prison sentence of eight years for the initial offences and six years for the Richmond charges.
In the judge's ruling, she wrote that although McCormick is not solely responsible for the increase in fentanyl-related deaths in the Lower Mainland, she did take the province's opioid crisis into account in her sentence.
The year the investigation began, there were 366 fatal drug overdoses in B.C. There were 510 deaths in 2015, and 914 last year. The majority of the deaths in 2016 have been linked to fentanyl, a report from the Coroners Service said.
Last week, Mounties made another break in the fight against fentanyl, seizing thousands of pills in the culmination of a two-month-long investigation in Surrey.
In a statement released Wednesday, local RCMP said they'd arrested three people last week and seized more than 3,800 doses of "suspected heroin/fentanyl." They also seized more than 500 doses of methamphetamine, 410 doses of crack cocaine, and approximately $16,000.
Two men and a woman, all from Surrey, have been arrested in that investigation.