Kamloops drug supplier got 'permission' to sell from Lower Mainland, Calgary gangsters | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Kamloops drug supplier got 'permission' to sell from Lower Mainland, Calgary gangsters

A Throttle Lockers emblem is seen in this photo submitted by RCMP.

Crown prosecutors are trying to lock up a former Kamloops drug trafficker for 12 years.

Zale Coty was one of three men charged in a months-long investigation that tracked his supply of cocaine, fentanyl and meth into Kamloops before he then sold it to lower-level dealers.

Among the drug trade hierarchy in Kamloops, he was among the top, but he was beholden to suppliers in the Lower Mainland and Calgary who gave him "permission" to run his business, according to an agreed statement of facts brought to BC Supreme Court.

Coty, born in 1969, appeared in a Kamloops courtroom this week as he pleaded guilty to four drug trafficking charges.

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He was one of the targets in an investigation led by the Combined Forces Special Enforcement Unit of BC, which included undercover drug purchases, wiretaps and covert surveillance.

Crown prosecutor Oren Bick told the court Monday, April 9, Coty was "isolated" from direct street sales, which made the surveillance and undercover tactics necessary.

Recordings of conversations between Coty and street dealers showed how he encouraged them to "hustle" and sometimes adjusted their business tactics in order to sell their product. Some owed him money, who he would put pressure on when they came up short and asked for more product. In one case, he mentioned that he owed money to superiors, stressing the importance of getting money from street dealers.

Other recordings detail a scheme between Coty and his co-accused Jacob Cavanagh. They found a new supply, which was a mix of fentanyl, carfentanil and heroine, according to the agreed statement of facts. They were discussing how best to mix the drug with fillers to get a good enough result for drug users, while also making a hefty profit.

"There's a lot of money to be made here man," Coty said.

"There's tons," Cavanagh replied.

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Police touted the drug bust as putting a dent in the Throttle Lockers gang, a Kelowna-based Hells Angels support club, in a 2022 press conference.

There was no mention, however, of the Throttle Lockers in court proceedings this week, nor any direct mention of who Coty's suppliers were that gave him permission to run the drug business in Kamloops.

The bust was part of the gang squad's operation dubbed "Project E-Petrifaction" and Sunshine Gardens was one of its targets. The gang squad has not answered inquiries from iNFOnews.ca to say if any other charges outside Kamloops arose from the operation, or whether it's still ongoing.

Coty ran the operation out of his Valleyview business Sunshine Gardens, which is where most of the drugs and cash were seized in November 2019.

Dealers would go to the back office where they would buy cocaine, fentanyl and meth by the ounce.

How long Coty had been selling illicit drugs isn't known, but he told another dealer he had been "doing this" for 23 years, according to transcripts.

He has no criminal record, but Bick told the court his business was known to be involved in cannabis and sold equipment to grow-op owners. It's possible he could have been in the illegal cannabis business for sometime before picking up other drugs, Bick said.

Cavanagh was sentenced in December to four years jail for his role in local drug trafficking. Another co-accused, Shawn Carlisle, was sentenced to 30 months.

Coty appeared again before Justice Sheri Ann Donegan on April 9, where his lawyer was expected to propose a sentence length.

Bick said there would have been 32 witnesses and evidence from multiple wire taps to be played in court had it gone to trial, so he saved the court time, despite the guilty plea coming nearly two years after the three men were charged.

Justice Donegan will sentence Coty at a later date.

To contact a reporter for this story, email Levi Landry or call 250-819-3723 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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