Man could be jailed for 8 years for drug trafficking at luxury lakeside Vernon condo | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Man could be jailed for 8 years for drug trafficking at luxury lakeside Vernon condo

More than $120,000 of drugs were found in an apartment at The Strand.
Image Credit: FACEBOOK: The Strand Community Forum

A 28-year-old Vancouver Island man found to have had a kilogram of cocaine in his lakeside Vernon apartment could be looking at eight years in jail.

Parmveer Singh Bhangu sat in a Vernon courtroom, Oct. 28 dressed in a suit and staring at the ground as federal Crown prosecutor Michelle Reinhardt argued he should spend eight years behind bars for his role in the upper echelons of a large sophisticated Vernon drug trafficking operation.

The case dates back to October 2019 when Bhangu, along with three others, were arrested and all charged with possession for the purpose of trafficking.

RCMP officers busted Bhangu and discovered one kilogram of cocaine, 200 grams of fentanyl, along with large quantities of MDMA, and methamphetamine at the apartment he rented at the Strand Lakeside Resort.

Police also discovered roughly $30,000 cash.

The drugs were estimated to be worth between $120,000 and $140,000.

The prosecutor said Bhangu's condo was used to sort, cut, and package drugs and police had discovered a meticulously well-organized distribution centre.

"(It was) a busy and well-run operation," the Crown said.

Along with scales and a vacuum-packing machine, a detailed financial ledger was also discovered in the apartment.

The fentanyl was packaged into 2,000 street-level doses.

The cocaine had been cut off a "brick" which showed the drugs had arrived at the apartment from the highest-level cocaine traffickers.

From the Strand apartment, the drugs would be transferred to a load house located on Old Kamloops Road.

The Crown said a significant number of weapons were discovered at the load house, although Bhangu wasn't charged with any weapons-related offences.

Of the four people arrested after the busts in October 2019, Amber Elaine Deforge and Brock Deforge were later acquitted at trial.

Destiny Stuart, born in 1994, is scheduled to stand trial in early 2023.

Bhangu later pleaded guilty to three charges of possession for the purpose of trafficking.

The Crown argued Bhangu was several rungs above street-level dealers and was clearly trusted by higher-ups to be in charge of large quantities of drugs and cash.

While the Crown painted a picture of Bhangu as a sophisticated upper mid-level drug trafficker, defence lawyer Julian van der Walle said his client was a long-time opioid addict who'd been picked up off the streets of the Downtown Eastside of Vancouver by higher-level drug dealers.

Van der Walle said Bhangu had a turbulent childhood and his father was deported from Canada to India when he was two years old after being convicted of assaulting his mother.

The defence lawyer said Bhangu had been smoking cannabis since Grade 7 and became addicted to oxycodone in Grade 11.

By Grade 12 he was using heroin.

Bhangu had periods of his life where he was fully employed and sober but he always slipped back into addiction, van der Walle said.

The court heard how Bhangu had been sober for two and a half years but fell apart after the death of his grandmother. His girlfriend left him and he ended up homeless and selling drugs on the Downtown Eastside side of Vancouver.

"He was selling pathetic amounts of drugs for pathetic amounts of money," van der Walle said.

However, Bhangu caught the eye of higher-level dealers who offered him work in Vernon.

He then jumped at what he saw as a "magical opportunity" to get a roof over his head.

The defence lawyer said while $2,000 was found in Bhangu's bedroom he wasn't paid well and almost all of the money went to the higher level dealers.

Bhangu suffered from severe opioid use disorder and requested a three-a-half-year jail sentence, van der Walle said.

He will be sentenced at a later date.

To contact a reporter for this story, email Ben Bulmer or call (250) 309-5230 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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