A Calgary man has been sentenced to eight years’ prison for importing cocaine to Canada at the Kingsgate border crossing.
Douglas Ernesto Pocasangre was sentenced by Justice Thomas Melnick in Cranbrook Supreme Court on January 17, 2013.
The sentencing followed a trial in Cranbrook from November 20 to 26 last year.
In making his decision, Justice Melnick explained the circumstances of Pocasangre’s crimes.
He was arrested at Kingsgate on March 6, 2010 after border officials discovered a backpack containing nine kilograms of cocaine hidden in a specialized trailer Mr. Pocasangre was bringing over the border.
The cocaine had a wholesale value of $305,000, and a street value of $720,000.
“In other words, a very substantial amount,” Justice Melnick said.
In a report on the sentencing released last week, Justice Melnick explained that Pocasangre, 48, was born in El Salvador and immigrated to Canada as a political refugee when he was a young man.
Pocasangre is married with a 22-year-old son, who lives with his parents at their home in Calgary.
Justice Melnick described the aggravating factors in the case as follows:
“1. The considerable quantity of cocaine, a hard drug capable of resulting in something like 90,000 individual retail sales to end users with the resultant grief that would inflict on thousands of people.
“2. Mr. Pocasangre used his position as a driver for a company that had special U.S. security clearance, taking advantage of the efforts and the reputation of his employer.
“3. From the record of cellphone messages, this was clearly a planned and deliberate act, not a decision taken on the spur of the moment. Mr. Ewan (defence counsel) submitted that this was not an aggravating factor, but I am satisfied that it is.
“4. Mr. Pocasangre clearly was motivated by profit. There can be no other explanation. He has had a good job and a good income. His truck was paid for. He had a new business venture in El Salvador.
“5. I am satisfied from the evidence that Mr. Pocasangre was aware of the risk he took, but took it anyway.”
The Crown sought a sentence of nine to 10 years, while defence counsel suggested a two- to three-year sentence.
Justice Melnick decided upon an eight-year sentence for importing cocaine, and a three-year sentence for possessing the cocaine for the purpose of trafficking, with both sentences to be served at the same time.
Pocasangre was required to provide a DNA sample and is prohibited from possessing firearms, weapons, ammunition and explosives for 10 years.