Charges have been quietly stayed in another major B.C. case allegedly linked to the international drug trade.
In Oct. 2017, the RCMP announced two Metro Vancouver residents had been charged with importing cocaine and trafficking fentanyl after a large drug shipment sent through the Port of Vancouver had been seized.
“These seizures would definitely have impacted the transnational organized crime networks involved,” RCMP Supt. Cal Chrustie said at the time.
Yan Chau “Andrew” Lam was charged with conspiracy to import cocaine and possession for the purpose of trafficking. Sok Wai “Gertrude” Cheong was charged with possession for the purpose of trafficking.
The RCMP seized 132 kilograms of cocaine smuggled inside a container arriving from Brazil, as well as 40,000 fentanyl pills found during a subsequent search of a Richmond apartment.
Lam, 50, and Cheong, 44, had been scheduled to go to trial in the new year at Richmond Provincial Court.
But earlier this month, the federal Public Prosecution Service of Canada stayed the charges.
Nathalie Houle, spokesperson for the federal agency, said in an email Friday that: “The PPSC can confirm that a stay of proceedings has been entered in this matter.”
She said the charges were stayed according to the PPSC policy.
The policy states that prosecutions are only initiated and continued if there is a reasonable prospect of conviction based on the available evidence and if they are in the public interest.
“If the answer to both questions is yes, the decision to prosecute test is met. If not, and charges have been laid, the charges should be withdrawn or a stay of proceedings entered,” Houle said.
She provided no specifics about why there was no longer a reasonable prospect of a conviction or why the prosecution was no longer in the public interest.
Houle gave the same answer last month when money laundering charges were stayed in the massive E-Pirate investigation into the alleged laundering of drug money through B.C. casinos.
A Vancouver couple and their Richmond company had faced charges of laundering the proceeds of crime, possession of property obtained by crime and failing to ascertain the identity of a client. But those charges were stayed on Nov, 22 even though a five-week trial had been scheduled in the new year.
Both the money laundering probe and the
Just before the stay of charges, a five-week trial had been scheduled for Qin, Zhu and Silver International stretching from January to April in 2019.
Both investigations were headed in B.C. by the RCMP’s Federal Serious and Organized Crime section.
RCMP Sgt. Janelle Shoihet said in an email Friday that she was “not in a position to provide any further specifics” about why the charges were laid.
“Ultimately the decision to enter a stay of proceedings lies with the Crown,” she said.
She said she had no information about whether the investigation is ongoing.
The RCMP was first alerted to the drug smuggling scheme when U.S. agents at the Port of Los Angeles discovered three duffel bags full of cocaine inside a refrigerated container destined for the Port of Vancouver.
The Americans and the RCMP began a joint investigation to identify suspects and track the shipment as it proceeded to its destination.
Chrustie, who is now retired, also said after the charges were laid last year that police believed the drug smugglers were “tailgating” meaning their illicit cargo was piggybacking on a legitimate shipment of goods.