Man beats fentanyl trafficking charge due to charter violation. Here’s the video of the dog sniffing the car

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A B.C. Justice recently threw out the case against a man charged with trafficking 27,500 fentanyl pills.

In a decision published in January, he said it wasn’t clear if the dog sat or not.

And new video, obtained exclusively by Global News, shows the entirety of the traffic stop, including the moment the dog investigates the vehicle.  

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READ MORE: Did the drug-sniffing dog sit or not? Debate leads to man’s acquittal in B.C. fentanyl bust

Here’s why the extent of the dog’s sit matters: If the dog properly sat down, it would have indicated the dog was “in odour,” meaning it had found drugs.

But in the case of Sandor Rigo, who was stopped on a Chilliwack highway in April 2017, the dog, named PSD Doods, was unable to sit down all the way. The police officer who made the stop said this was because a curb was in the way.

An officer who stopped Rigo – only identified by the Justice’s decision as Corporal Catellier – said he believed the dog was in odour and had the car towed so it could be thoroughly searched. Police say over 27,000 fentanyl pills were found in the wheel well.

The dash-camera video from the RCMP vehicle, obtained by Global News, offers a partial view of what happened.

The video shows the officer pulling over Rigo, who was driving a Dodge Caravan. The officer can be heard asking Rigo where he was going and why he appeared to be shaking. Rigo answered that he was picking up used tires from a friend and he was shaking due to hypoglycemia, a condition which requires people to eat frequently to keep their blood-sugar levels stable.

Rigo was then asked to exit his van and sit in the RCMP vehicle. That’s when Cpl. Catellier brought PSD Doods to sniff the outside of the van.

RCMP PDS Doods sniffs Sandor Rigo’s van.

HO / RCMP dashcam video of traffic stop

The dog can be seen sniffing the outside of the driver’s side of the van. She is then directed to the passenger side of the van, which is out of view of the dash camera, and next to a high concrete curb.

On the video, the moment in question can be heard, but only partially seen. The officer repeatedly says, “Good girl,” to PSD Doods, as she is seen at the side of the car. .

A partially obstructed view of PSD Doods sniffing Sandor Rigo’s vehicle.

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An expert witness in court said the dog wasn’t showing other signs of being in odour — which normally includes wagging her tail.


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Vancouver Island police seize huge trove of guns, explosives, homemade silencers

But the officer testified at the time that she displayed the other signs when she was out of sight of the video.

In his decision, which was made public in January 2018, Justice Michael Brundrett said since the dog was only shown in a “partial form of ‘alert,’” there wasn’t reasonable grounds to search the vehicle.

Brundrett said Rigo’s charter rights were violated, specifically articles 8 and 10(b), which pertain to the right to be secure against detainment, search and seizure, and the right to a lawyer.

Because of this, all evidence collected after the charter breach had to be thrown out.

Criminal lawyer Dino Bottos said even if the officer is proven correct because drugs were found in the car after the fact, in cases like these the public has to remember that “the ends do not justify the means.”

He said the judge has to maintain impartiality.

When a judge excludes evidence obtained during an unlawful search and seizure, he or she is doing so not to favour a particular accused, but rather to uphold what is written into our Constitution,” he explained. 

Anything obtained after the charter violation – in this case that would be the physical drugs as well what appears to be a video of Rigo’s confession – is “considered fruit from the poisonedtree.”

“If we’re serious about protecting rights and freedoms, that means that we need to exercise control over police state actions,” Bottos explained. “Which means in this case, when there is a breach of a right, then the only reasonable remedy is to exclude the evidence found as a result of that breach.”

Almost a dozen Canadians died every day from opioid overdoses last year. Since 2016, more than 8,000 have lost their lives, primarily to fentanyl. In British Columbia, the problem has become so bad that life expectancy has dropped for the first time in decades.

WATCH: Global News investigation into the deadly fentanyl trade in Canada






The amounts traffickers are bringing in are believed to be so vast that investigators suspect their money laundering has disrupted the Vancouver-area housing market. It has also put a spotlight on casinos. But when police seize their illicit cash, traffickers often just walk away, seemingly unfazed.

Brundrett said in his decision that it was a serious case, because of the “evils” of fentanyl trafficking, but the integrity of the justice system had to be taken into account.

*With files from Sam Cooper 

© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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Mounties dial back warnings about dangers of fentanyl exposure for police

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The RCMP are reviewing how their members should handle fentanyl following new reports that downplay the risks faced by frontline officers exposed to the drug.

While fentanyl remains a deadly and unpredictable drug for those who take it, new research from within the RCMP suggests that police officers aren’t likely to overdose on the opioid by absorbing it through their skin or inhaling it.

« Exposure to people handling the substance is not as high as we thought it was initially, » Sgt. Luc Chicoine, the RCMP’s national drug program co-ordinator, told CBC News.

That marks a shift in the RCMP’s thinking since just a few years ago, when the police service released a video warning about the dangers fentanyl and other opioids pose to first responders — a line picked up in media reports.

Chicoine, who has been part of the RCMP team dealing with Canada’s opioid crisis since its infancy, said that when the crisis began, police had to act on a « worst-case scenario. »

« At that time, the information available on fentanyl was very, very limited, » he said.

The RCMP’s initial caution, Chicoine said, « created a little bit of a monster and fear within our membership and within the community. » He cited reports warning people to be wary of touching shopping cart handles to avoid accidentally coming into contact with fentanyl.

‘Risk is relatively low’

The force is now reviewing available evidence to help clarify the RCMP’s fentanyl policy. The results of that review likely will be shared with other police organizations.

« We have created a little bit of a fear and that’s what we’re trying to solve by doing the full, ‘Let’s take a step back and take a position for the RCMP,' » said Chicoine.

There have been reports of first responders requiring medical attention following suspected fentanyl exposure. In May 2018, a member of the Seba Beach Patrol Service in Alberta was rushed to hospital after he picked up a vial of powder he found on a road. In 2017, the union for Alberta correctional officers raised alarms after several members came into contact with the drug.

Bruce Christianson, the RCMP’s director of occupational safety, said wearing standard protective gear such as gloves and masks should be enough to protect police officers.

RCMP Cpl. Derek Westwick, left, of the Clandestine Laboratory Enforcement Team, guides a member of the team – wearing a type of protective suit worn when dismantling drug production facilities containing fentanyl – into a news conference at RCMP headquarters in Surrey, B.C., on Thursday, September 3, 2015. (Darryl Dyck/Canadian Press)

« When you’re actually seizing the drugs, the risk is relatively low, » he said.

« If you take the proper precautions and you do your job as you should, then the chances of being exposed are not as great as, you know, some may have feared early on in this crisis. »

Chicoine said the new findings could affect how officers go about seizing and handling the drug — but the biggest change will be to undercover investigations.

Mounties first began carrying naloxone in October 2016 to treat opioid overdoses. In that first year, Mounties administered the antidote in 286 suspected overdose cases. In that first year, just four officers were given naloxone.

« No follow-up toxicology has been done to confirm if it was, in fact, due to an accidental exposure to fentanyl or if it was other psychosomatic symptoms, » said Chicoine.

According to the latest figures from Health Canada, there were 2,066 apparent opioid-related deaths in Canada between January and June 2018, bringing the national death toll up to 9,000 since the start of 2016.

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LIVE BLOG: MPs to debate how Canada should approach fighting fentanyl, opioid crises

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The House of Commons is set to hold a lengthy discussion Monday evening on how Canada should tackle its opioid crisis.

Members of parliament will debate a number of recommendations, including how to stop criminals from profiting from bringing illegal drugs like fentanyl into vulnerable communities, how to improve treatment services for drug users and how best to address the socio-economic conditions that push people towards drug use and related criminality.

WATCH: How fentanyl gets into Canada







The discussion, scheduled for 7 p.m. ET on Monday, comes in the wake of a series of Global News investigations that laid bare how an assortment of criminal groups, ranging from China-based gangs and Mexican cartels to small-time street dealers, are making a killing from the fentanyl trade.

READ MORE: China won’t stop flood of fentanyl into Canada, sources say

Global News’ multi-part series, Fentanyl: Making a Killing, revealed that the scale of the fentanyl trade is so large that related money-laundering is suspected to have disrupted the Vancouver-area housing market.

While fentanyl traffickers and dealers gained astounding wealth, they have also left a trail of bodies behind — nearly a dozen Canadians died each day from opioid overdoses last year. Over 8,000 have lost their lives due to fentanyl use since 2016.


READ MORE:
Opioid crisis may be lowering Canadians’ life expectancy, report says

Behind those shocking statistics are tragic stories of individuals, families and communities plunged into crisis by the scourge of fentanyl.

WATCH: Global News reports on the impact of the opioid crisis on families


The plight of opioid-ravaged communities such as Simcoe County in southern Ontario, highlighted in Global News’ reporting, is expected to take centre-stage in Monday night’s discussions.

READ MORE: How lethal opioids devastated a small region of Ontario

Also likely to be discussed is the lack of specific plans to help children affected by the opioid crisis, data on which isn’t even collected by Statistics Canada.

WATCH: Coverage of Canada’s fentanyl crisis on Globalnews.ca


MPs will also be urged to look to success stories in jurisdictions such as Portugal and Miami, Fla., both of which have implemented radical policies — including allowing drug users access to outpatient programs in lieu of jail time — and discuss how Canada could follow their examples.

A range of recommendations tackling specific issues ranging from harm reduction, education and outreach to data collection, criminal penalties and federal-provincial-municipal cooperation are also expected to be discussed and debated.

— With files from Stewart Bell, Andrew Russell and Sam Cooper

© 2018 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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If helping China hunt fugitives is the price of stemming deadly fentanyl flow, should Canada pay? – National

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China is a major source of the fentanyl killing thousands of Canadians every year.

But getting officials there to help staunch the flow will require Canadian leaders to offer something many may find unpalatable in return: help with hunting their targeted list of fugitives accused of corruption.

READ MORE: An introduction to the Global News series on fentanyl

“It’s a two-way street and it means also that we have to be more forthcoming probably with their own investigations related to fugitives,” said Guy Saint-Jacques, who served as Canadian ambassador to China from 2012 until 2016.

“The trump card there is really fugitives.”

WATCH BELOW: Trudeau says China is working with Canada on Fentanyl problem






For the past week, the Global News investigative series Fentanyl: Making a Killing has untangled the web of how fentanyl is flooding into Canada from China through the use of money laundering by Chinese gangs like the Big Circle Boys, a notorious Chinese crime group who are the kingpins of the fentanyl trade in Canada.

Fentanyl and its chemical precursors are largely produced in factories in southern China.

It then gets imported illegally into Canada via shipping containers and in the mail.

READ MORE: China won’t stop flood of fentanyl into Canada, sources say

While Canadian officials say publicly that China is cooperating with efforts to crack down on the deadly flood, sources privately say the country is largely inactive and causing growing frustration among law enforcement agencies in Canada.

“It’s a huge fight with China right now, and if you anger the Chinese they won’t work with you,” said a source, who could not be identified. “The fentanyl coming into Canada is going to get worse. Nothing will happen because we have to satisfy what they (the Chinese government) want.”

READ MORE: Chinese corruption fugitives may have fled to Canada or U.S.

Global News asked Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale on Monday whether he is satisfied with the level of cooperation being offered by China on the issue of fentanyl trafficking and whether more resources need to be put in place to crack down.

“It’s got to be a constant, constant diplomatic effort and we’ve started that,” said Goodale, but didn’t say whether there had been discussion about offering further help to Chinese officials who want to hunt fugitives in Canada.

“We have to keep — with all of our allies, including the United States and Mexico — raising it and raising it and raising it again,” Goodale added.

WATCH BELOW: Goodale said the government expects international cooperation on fentanyl crisis






Goodale said that what has been seen so far from Chinese authorities is “a beginning and a small beginning.”

He added that more needs to be done but did not indicate what specific actions Canada is taking to push the issue with the Chinese.

“There is a lot more that needs to be done to demonstrate that this is a deadly problem and we expect international cooperation and we will push very hard to get that cooperation from all the sources where the supply is coming from,” he said.

But Goodale stopped short of promising more funding for RCMP investigations in Canada and especially B.C., the epi-centre of the opioid crisis.

WATCH BELOW: Goodale comments on need for RCMP resources on money laundering






As the Global News investigation series revealed, fentanyl trafficking gangs with links to Mainland China are believed to be laundering billions of dollars in B.C. real estate, and also sending drug-trafficking proceeds back to China, in order to increase opioid imports.

Meanwhile, the death toll from opioid overdoses is spreading from B.C. eastward and mounting, with about 4,000 deaths per year across Canada.

READ MORE: Secret police study finds crime networks could have laundered over $1B through Vancouver homes in 2016

Sources told Global News that the RCMP doesn’t have the training, resources, or strategic focus to tackle the drug money laundering that they have found is prevalent in Metro Vancouver in particular.

The complaints of law enforcement sources were underlined last week, when Global News learned a major B.C. casino money laundering and underground banking investigation with links to China, had abruptly collapsed.

According to police, targets of the so-called E-Pirate investigation in B.C. are top echelon fentanyl traffickers, and they use B.C. casinos and real estate to wash multiply their drug profits.

WATCH BELOW: The B.C. compound police believe may be connected to “transnational drug trafficking” and the fentanyl trade






It is not known why federal prosecutors stayed charges against suspects in the case.

Goodale did not commit to increasing funding to the RCMP, when asked about the collapse of E-Pirate.

“This is an extremely important part of what we call on the RCMP to do, in dealing with money laundering and organized crime,” he said. “We’ve been working with the RCMP now for the last two years to find the appropriate ways to fill in the gaps in their funding.”

READ MORE: Fentanyl kings in Canada allegedly linked to powerful Chinese gang, the Big Circle Boys

Goodale was also asked if he would support a public inquiry in B.C. looking into the fentanyl crisis and organized crime money laundering in B.C.

B.C.’s government has so far not committed to such an inquiry, but pressure is mounting.

Goodale said he has talked with B.C. Attorney General David Eby about the issue, but he did not commit to an inquiry.

WATCH BELOW: Growing calls for public inquiry into deadly fentanyl






So far, Port Coquitlam Mayor Brad West is the only B.C. politician strongly advocating for a public inquiry.

“We’ve had this situation where fentanyl is pouring into our country, pouring into British Columbia from China, killing thousands of our people,” West said.

“There is organized crime from China that’s making millions and millions — maybe billions — of dollars in profit from off of that drug trade… and then they’re washing that money clean in our casinos and in our real estate, which also has devastating consequences for our community.

“What we need to do is take our province back. We need a government that is going to stand up for our own people and say, ‘This is going to stop.’”

B.C. Premier John Horgan acknowledged that Global News’ series has uncovered serious concerns, but maintained a public inquiry would be too costly.


READ MORE:
David Eby won’t rule out public inquiry after collapse of casino money-laundering case

However, after the collapse of the E-Pirate investigation, Horgan appeared to soften his stance.

“I have to say one of the major reasons for not taking that step (mounting a public inquiry) disappeared today,” Horgan said last week.

“And I don’t think that B.C.’s interests in getting to the bottom  of this has disappeared in any way. In fact if anything, it’s been amplified.”

But driving home the critical nature of the matter to the Chinese may be another matter entirely.

Saint-Jacques said there’s really only been a “lukewarm effort” from Chinese police to deal with the trafficking, and added the matter “was not seen really as a top priority.”

He added that the National Security and Rule of Law Dialogue, a forum set up between Canada and China to discuss security concerns annually, is supposed to be coming up shortly and would be an ideal venue to discuss how to get urgent action on the fentanyl crisis.

No date has yet been set for that forum.

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An introduction to Fentanyl: Making a Killing

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Almost a dozen Canadians died every day from opioid overdoses last year. Since 2016, more than 8,000 have lost their lives, primarily to fentanyl. In British Columbia, the problem has become so bad that life expectancy has dropped for the first time in decades.

But it has also made traffickers astoundingly rich.


READ MORE:
Secret police study finds crime networks could have laundered over $1B through Vancouver homes in 2016

In a multi-part investigative series, Global News follows the money, revealing how organized crime groups and small-time operators alike are making a killing from fentanyl.

“There are people profiting off the death of our children,” said Marilyn Muir, who lost her 34-year-old son to an overdose.

The amounts traffickers are bringing in are so vast that investigators suspect their money-laundering has disrupted the Vancouver-area housing market. It has also putting a spotlight on casinos. But when police seize their illicit cash, traffickers just walk away, seemingly unfazed.

WATCH: Police investigation links dirty cash to luxury real estate






Who are these people?

The kingpins of Canadian fentanyl are associated with the Big Circle Boys, a notorious crime group based in China, investigators told Global News. Mexican cartels are getting involved as well, particularly in Ontario, multiple police sources said.

But with so much money to be made, it has also attracted minor-league traffickers who order small amounts online from China and put it onto the streets, leaving a trail of bodies in places like Simcoe County.

“You can’t just go to a South American cartel and say you want to buy a bunch of cocaine, but for fentanyl it’s different,” said RCMP Supt. Yves Goupil.

All it takes is five grams of fentanyl to make a pile of cash, he said.

“You could buy, tonight, five grams of fentanyl. So anyone, basically, it’s open to anyone. There’s no need to meet face-to-face. There’s a lot of anonymity.”


Almost all of Canada’s fentanyl traces to factories in southern China, where it is plentiful, dirt cheap and compact enough to ship by mail.

Once here, it is either sold in pill form or, unbeknownst to users, added to street drugs like heroin to increase traffickers’ profits — even as it greatly raises the overdose risk.

“This epidemic of deaths is caused by murderers who are adding toxic chemicals to the drugs that ordinary people are taking,” said Evelyn Pollock, whose 43-year-old son overdosed in Orillia in October 2016.

With overdose deaths mounting, Canadian police are growing frustrated at the lacklustre response of Chinese authorities, whom they allege are making their cooperation conditional on unrelated diplomatic and foreign policy objectives.

Based on extensive interviews with police, victims, health care workers, as well as documents and court records, Fentanyl: Making a Killing reveals the drug underworld that is profiting from the misery of Canada’s fentanyl crisis.

© 2018 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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