A dial-a-dope drug dealer operating in New Westminster became a mid-level supplier only after police presented the opportunity, a provincial court judge recently found.
However, the judge also found that Neil Navneet Naidu was only able to attain that mid-level status due to the sophistication of his own operations.
In a July 26 sentencing recently posted online, Judge Danny Sudeyko sentenced Naidu to five years in prison for two counts of trafficking in cocaine, heroin, fentanyl and furanyl, a fentanyl analogue said to be about a fifth of the potency of fentanyl. Naidu pleaded guilty rather than facing trial on the matter.
A major factor in his sentence, which was reduced to three years eight months after accounting for time served, was the level to which Naidu was involved in drug dealing.
The charges stem from a police operation that began with information on a dial-a-dope operation out of the Winston Motel on 12th Street in New West, leading police to make contact with Naidu.
Over a four-month period, Naidu arranged or attended 21 sales of increasing amounts of heroin and/or cocaine, totalling more than $119,000. It began with one officer buying a quarter-gram to a half-gram for $40 to $100 outside the Winston Motel and a Hamilton Street apartment in New West.
That officer introduced Naidu to a second undercover officer who posed as a mid-level dealer looking for product to supply an area in Northern B.C. Naidu said he could manage that in his “personal time.”
Over several weeks, Naidu began selling increasing amounts to the second officer, who introduced him to a third officer, posing as a high-level pusher, and a fourth undercover officer, who attended some larger deals toward the end of the operation.
The amount Naidu was supplying gradually grew from an ounce up to four ounces of heroin and, in one sale, a half-kilogram of cocaine. By that time, meetings had moved from New West to the Boundary Bay Airport in Delta.
In one exchange, Naidu warned the officers to be sure the heroin is mixed properly to avoid customer overdoses, “confirming his knowledge of the presence of fentanyl in the heroin.”
In that time, officers began to meet with Naidu at a Keg restaurant to discuss larger operations, including one meeting in which Naidu said he could arrange larger transports up north.
The final transaction was arranged at the airport on April 12, 2017, resulting in Naidu and his driver being arrested. In Naidu’s car, police found 517.6 grams (about 18 ounces) of heroin, at a street value of up to $50,000.
In his ruling, Sudeyko found that Naidu was selling small amounts of drugs that were “inconsistent with a mid-level drug trafficker.”
“I also find that Mr. Naidu came to be operating as a mid-level drug trafficker as a result of the opportunity presented by the police,” Sudeyko wrote, adding that there was “no evidence” of mid-level trafficking other than his work with police.
However, Sudeyko did note that Naidu was already primed for a promotion to mid-level trafficking. Naidu was quickly able to scale up his operations to supply the undercover officers with larger amounts of drugs.
“Mr. Naidu had the necessary connections, trust and sophistication to take that next step,” Sudeyko wrote.
The judge took a few other factors into account in his sentencing. For one, Naidu’s criminal records was said to be “relatively brief” with little jail time imposed.
He’s also noted for making efforts since his arrest both to abstain from drug use and to obtain legitimate work between his April 2017 arrest and the charges laid in January 2018. Since charges were laid, he also obtained a high school education and other courses in jail.
However, Sudeyko said the devastating effects of fentanyl in B.C. – last year, the death toll rose to more than 1,500 in the province – adds a “very high” moral culpability for those selling fentanyl.
Crown prosecutors suggested a sentence of eight years, while defence had sought a sentence of 18 to 36 months.