Cops didn’t entrap alleged cocaine dealer: court

Police used phone number to make drug deal contact with dealer

A suspected cocaine dealer was not entrapped when police used a telephone number to order drugs as part of an investigation, B.C.’s Court of Appeal has ruled.

The decision in the case of Cheung Wai Wallace Li, who pleaded guilty to one count of trafficking in cocaine, will return to provincial court for sentencing. That court had initially stayed the charges due to a finding of entrapment.

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The case came about when police received a Crime Stoppers tip that a particular phone number was being used in a dial-a-dope operation and that a vehicle with a particular licence plate number was associated with the operation.

Police found the vehicle was registered to someone other than the accused who also appeared involved in dial-a-dope drug dealing.

“The registered owner had an extensive history of suspected drug trafficking through dial-a-dope operations,” the ruling said.

An undercover police officer phoned the number, and the accused answered, the ruling said. The officer asked for “half of soft,” a street term for ½ gram of powder cocaine.

They arranged to meet and the accused sold the officer cocaine.

Police engaged in a further 21 drug purchase transactions as part of their investigation. Li was involved in 16 of those subsequent transactions, the court said.

He pleaded guilty at trial but successfully sought a stay on grounds of entrapment.

Prosecutors, however, appealed the provincial court stay.

The three-judge appeal court unanimously ruled police had a reasonable basis to suspect that the phone number was a dial-a-dope number given the anonymous tip information about the vehicle added further credence to the tip.

The court said officers didn’t act improperly in calling the number and arranging to meet the accused for the purposes of a drug transaction.

“In any event, the call itself was, in the circumstances, a reasonable investigation, and the resulting drug transaction did not amount to entrapment,” the ruling said.

jhainsworth@glaciermedia.ca

@jhainswo

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