November 13, 2015 - 5:00 PM
KELOWNA – A West Kelowna woman has been found guilty of possessing 15 kg of a new synthetic drug she received in the mail from China.
Nicole Marie Hubek, 32, was charged with possession for the purpose of trafficking for bringing what RCMP say was up to $1 million worth of Methylone, also known as bath salts, to Kelowna from China in 2013.
Hubek says she was only doing a favour for a friend and co-worker and says she had no idea what the three packages contained, however Judge Ellen Burdett called her testimony incredible and inconsistent.
"She was aware that the substance was Methylone and it was possessed for the purpose of trafficking,” Burdett said Friday, Nov. 13.
Hubek testified at her own trial over two days in Kelowna Provincial Court that she set up a post office box in her name and accepted three packages addressed to a fictional West Kelowna snow removal company at her apartment as a way to help her friend, Geri-Lyn Reid. She says she had no idea the packages contained a dangerous and highly addictive new drug that is similar in chemical composition to MDMA, or ecstacy.
Hubek told Burdett she only learned what was in the packages after she was arrested outside her Kelowna apartment in September 2013.
RCMP got wind of the shipment and intercepted the three boxes labelled sodium chloride that were addressed to the snow removal company. They replaced the drugs with Epsom salt and added a tracking device and dye packs. Hubek said she was confused when Reid opened the boxes and the dye packs exploded.
“I didn’t understand what was happening,” Hubek testified. “I was afraid. I was shocked. I was panicking. I asked her what was happening… she did not respond in any way.”
Hubek says Reid put the dye-covered packages in the bathtub and filled it with water to try and clean them off. She says it never occurred to her to ask Reid what was in the package, even after they saw undercover police milling around outside the apartment building.
“After I cleaned the mess up… we went outside to my balcony to have a cigarette,” Hubek said. “She discreetly pointed out the surrounding officers where we could see them hiding. We could hear them as well. She called the cab and that’s when she told me we would probably be arrested.”
Crown lawyer Edlyn Laurie called Hubek an unreliable witness based on inconsistencies in her testimony and her assertion that she would not know what to do with that quantity of drugs. Hubek admits to dating a cocaine and methamphetamines dealer at the time and when police raided her apartment they found cocaine, meth, marijuana, ecstacy and mushrooms in her bedroom.
“She has provided no explanation for (why she didn’t ask what was in the packages),” Laurie said. “This is someone who has familiarity with the drug trade. At the very least it’s willful blindness.”
On Thursday, Hubek testified that Reid did not pay her for helping her set up the post office box and for receiving the packages, but on Friday she told Burdett Reid took her shopping as a way of saying thanks.
“She was just helping me as well as I was helping her.”
According to RCMP, which held a media conference in October 2013, bath salts are a highly addictive and potentially lethal new designer drug that before 2013 had not been encountered in the Okanagan.
According to an RCMP expert who testified this week, the drugs could be purchased from China for as little as $3,000 to $15,000 and sold for as much as $1 million in Canada.
“This is a very lucrative business,” Laurie said. “Somebody stands to make a lot of money here.”
Geri-Lyn Reid was arrested the same day as Hubek, but was released and never charged.
Hubek will be sentenced at a later date.
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News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2015