Gun-toting fentanyl trafficker sentenced to 5 years
No municipality is too small to escape the scourge of guns and narcotics trafficking, a Windsor judge said Thursday in sentencing an armed fentanyl trafficker to five years in prison.
“No community is exempt from the combination of drugs and loaded firearms,” Superior Court Justice Bruce Thomas said during a Zoom hearing, referring to the arrest of a fentanyl trafficker in the Town of Essex.
Police officers responding to a domestic assault call in that municipality on May 24, 2019, tracked down the suspect in a church parking lot after Wesley Hebert had broken into the home of his ex-spouse, assaulted her and then fled on foot. Behind some shrubs next to the apprehended suspect was a duffel bag containing fentanyl, cocaine, an electronic scale and two loaded handguns.
Ahead of a trial date set for next month, Hebert on Thursday pleaded guilty instead to 12 of the 29 counts for which he was originally charged, the most serious connected to 15 grams of powdered fentanyl found in two baggies. Federal prosecutor Richard Pollock told the court that being exposed to as little as 0.00025 grams of fentanyl has been shown to be lethal to humans.
“Nothing can be said to minimize the impact of fentanyl in the community,” said defence lawyer Neil Rooke. “It's a terrible crisis.”
Hebert, now 28, has “struggled significantly” for years with his own drug addiction, said Rooke, and his trafficking in narcotics was not for profit but to pay for his own habit.
Both Pollock and provincial assistant Crown attorney Jonathan Lall pointed to a lengthy criminal record that includes prior convictions for aggravated assault, robbery, break and enter with disguise and firearms offences.
Referring to the “exceptional times” of offenders having to serve behind bars during a pandemic, the judge accepted a prison sentence proposal of five years presented jointly by the prosecution and the defence. With enhanced credit for close to two years spent in pre-sentence custody, Hebert has a balance of 29 months left to serve.
The two firearms found on Hebert at the time of his arrest were an STI Edge .45-calibre semi-automatic pistol and a Ruger .22-cal. revolver, both prohibited weapons and both loaded. A number of the charges for which he pleaded guilty to this week were for breaches of prior weapons restrictions.
“Loaded firearms are part of the drug subculture and drug trade,” said Rooke, adding his client was “very lucky” that his latest criminal charges didn't include anything related to the guns having been used.
While Hebert's guilty pleas were a mitigating factor, the judge said a “clear” aggravating factor was his record, including 18 prior criminal convictions over a seven-year period between 2011 and 2018.