Kelowna Man Pleads Guilty to Selling Fentanyl on the Dark Web

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A Kelowna man has pleaded guilty to a number of charges relating to what police called “one of the most sophisticated” fentanyl trafficking enterprises uncovered in Canada.

In August 2017, Kelowna RCMP raided a Black Mountain home and the Duke & Duchess clothing store in downtown Kelowna, the culmination of an 11-month investigation that tracked drug distribution on the dark web.

Two months later, police announced to the public they had seized 120 grams of suspected fentanyl or carfentanil, and said the drugs were destined for Canadian, American, European and Australian cities.

Despite police calling the operation “one of the most significant and perhaps the most sophisticated fentanyl/carfentanil trafficking and exportation enterprises that has been uncovered in Canada to date,” no charges were laid until almost a year after the raid, when 14 separate charges were laid against James Nelson and Cassie Bonthoux, including several counts of trafficking, importing/exporting controlled substances, and firearms offences.

Bonthoux owned the Duke & Duchess clothing store at the time, but it has since shut down.

Last summer, the Crown stayed six of the charges the couple was facing, before Nelson pleaded guilty this past February to trafficking in fentanyl and possession for the purpose of trafficking in carfentanil.

As part of the plea deal, the Crown is expected to stay Nelson’s remaining charges once sentencing is complete. Bonthoux’s charges remain before the court, and her next appearance is scheduled for May 19.

Nelson’s two-day sentencing hearing was scheduled in Kelowna court this week, but due to the COVID-19 virus, the hearing was postponed. The pair remain out of custody, and a new sentencing date for Nelson is expected to be scheduled Friday.

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Written by D Walden

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