A Quebec man arrested after a huge drug seizure on the South Shore in September 2017 has been sentenced to 10 years in prison.
Luc Chevrefils, 60, of Saint-Zotique was found guilty last December of possession of 250 kilograms of cocaine for the purpose of trafficking.
Chevrefils was acquitted on two other charges - conspiracy to import cocaine and importation.
Judge Elizabeth Buckle heard sentencing submissions last month in Halifax provincial court and gave her decision Tuesday.
“Denunciation and deterrence require that Mr. Chevrefils be sentenced to a significant period of incarceration,” Buckle said.
“Possession of cocaine for the purpose of trafficking is a very serious offence. … The tremendous harm that comes from trafficking cocaine has been repeatedly commented on by our Court of Appeal and can be seen in courts every day.”
The Appeal Court has referred to cocaine as a deadly and devastating drug that ravages lives, the judge said.
“People who traffic in cocaine take advantage of the vulnerability and addictions of others,” she said.
Although Chevrefils never had physical possession of the cocaine found hidden on a sailboat at a Lunenburg County marina, the judge ruled he was in constructive or joint possession of the drugs with the boat’s captain, Jacques Grenier.
Chevrefils flew to Halifax from Montreal on Sept. 3, 2017, the same day Grenier’s boat, the 9.14-metre Quesera, arrived at East River Marine after sailing from Saint Maarten in the Caribbean.
The Canada Border Services Agency was interested in Grenier’s vessel. When border officers visited the marina that night, the boat was there but was unoccupied.
Grenier showed up later driving a car that had been rented by Chevrefils and had 10 new hockey bags in the trunk. Officers searched the sailboat and found bricks of cocaine concealed in the forward sleeping quarters.
The border officers arrested Grenier and called in the RCMP. More cocaine was discovered hidden throughout the boat.
Chevrefils was taken into custody a few hours later at a hotel in Dartmouth.
According to the evidence at trial, Grenier planned to unload the cocaine and deliver it to Chevrefils the next day. Chevrefils would then take the drugs to a stash house for preparation for transport to Montreal or points unknown.
An expert testified that the cocaine was probably purchased from a Mexican drug cartel for about $2 million and had a resale value of upwards of $20 million. The expert said Chevrefils likely stood to make at least $250,000 for transporting the drugs.
Grenier, 70, who lived on his boat, pleaded guilty to importation and possession for the purpose of trafficking and received a 13-year sentence last April.
“The offence of possession for the purpose of trafficking includes a broad range of culpability, from the mere courier or mule to the owner or trafficker,” Buckle said Tuesday.
“Mr. Chevrefils is in between. He was a trusted courier with connections. He knew the identity of the person who was arranging the final stages of the importation and transport. He was trusted to meet the captain who carried out the physical importation, and he was trusted to have sole responsibility for the multimillion-dollar cargo and its transport.”
“Mr. Chevrefils’ moral responsibility is heightened because he chose to ignore the criminality of what he was doing and made a conscious choice to be involved for financial gain. His responsibility is not lessened by youth or addiction.”
Chevrefils had seven previous convictions on his criminal record, including possession of marijuana for the purpose of trafficking in 2002 and cultivation of marijuana back in 1994.
Crown attorney Glen Scheuer had argued for a sentence of 13 to 15 years, while defence lawyer Pat Atherton recommended a prison term of five to seven years.
“Given all the circumstances and considering Mr. Chevrefils’ age and the principle of restraint, I conclude that a fit and proper sentence … is 10 years in custody,” the judge said.
She also prohibited Chevrefils from possessing firearms for the rest of his life and ordered him to provide a DNA sample for a national databank.
“Mr. Chevrefils, it gives me no pleasure to impose this sentence,” Buckle said. “I wish you the best of luck, both during your custodial sentence and upon your release.”