Four-year sentence for teenage Delta drug dealer

Arman Dhatt apologizes to family and community for criminal behaviour linked to low-level drug conflict in Surrey and Delta.

A Delta teen peripherally linked to conflict between rival drug dealers in Surrey and Delta this year has been sentenced to four years in jail for a string of drug and firearm offences.

Arman Dhatt, 19, pleaded guilty in October to seven charges, including drug trafficking and possessing a restricted firearm. He was sentenced in Surrey Provincial Court on Friday (Dec. 18) morning.

Crown and defence entered a joint submission recommending a four-year sentence. With credit for time served in pretrial custody since his arrest in April, Dhatt has just under three years remaining of his prison sentence.

The court heard that Surrey RCMP received a tip in March from a person who provided the phone number for a dial-a-dope line used by drug dealers. The informant also suggested those operating the drug line might be connected to a rash of shootings that had taken place in Surrey and Delta in previous months.

Undercover officers called the line, making 12 drug purchases in March and April. Dhatt, who was 18 at the time, met with the officers for several of the transactions, exchanging heroin and crack cocaine for cash.

On April 10, police executed a search warrant at Dhatt’s home near 78 Avenue and 118 Street in Delta. Officers found Dhatt sleeping in his room and when they attempted to apprehend him, he resisted arrest.

Under his bedroom mattress, they found a semi-automatic rifle and loaded handgun, as well as bundles of cash and ammunition. The serial number had been obliterated from the handgun.

There were also large quantities of crack, powder cocaine, methamphetamine and steroids in the bedroom closet and bathroom. Scales and razors for weighing and dividing drugs were also present.

In total, said Crown prosecutor Joshua Cramer, the street value of the drug stash was estimated at $121,920.

Both Crown and defence emphasized that neither of the firearms found in Dhatt’s possession tested positive as being connected with any of the shootings in Surrey and Delta this year that have injured at least 13 people and killed one man. Defence lawyer Matthew Nathanson said the string of shootings provided a “backdrop” only for Dhatt’s actives.

The court heard that the dial-a-dope line remained active after Dhatt’s arrest and police continued their investigation, resulting in the arrests of Rajvir Sunner and Pardip Brar in May. The latter was described in court Friday as the dope line “boss,” though it was apparent from text messages that he reported to someone even higher up identified only as “K.”

Dhatt submitted a letter to the court, apologizing to his family and the community for his criminal behaviour.

“I’m putting all this behind me and focusing on a positive future,” he said through his lawyer, adding he sought to be a productive member of society. “I’m determined not to do this again.”

He listened from the prisoner’s box throughout the sentencing, his black hair spiked and wearing dark-rimmed glasses. Many members of his family were present in the gallery. The court heard that his family knew Dhatt was dealing drugs but had staged a series of unsuccessful interventions and were unable to stop him.

Nathanson said his client’s attitude has changed since his arrest eight months ago – observations echoed in letters of support submitted by Dhatt’s family.

His parents said their son has taken full responsibility for his actions and that he was looking forward to pursuing a career as a heavy duty mechanic after he’s served his jail time. His cousins also noted he’s been taking course in prison and was working toward his GED (high school graduation), and has reconnected with his Sikh faith.

“This is someone who has a large support network around him,” said Nathanson.

In delivering Dhatt’s sentence, Judge Paul Dohm called the drug trafficking business “pure evil,” telling the teen “there’s nothing good about it.”

Dohm urged him to follow through on his intentions to turn his life around and use his time in jail wisely so he could pursue a career upon his release. He also suggested Dhatt consider leaving Surrey to distance himself from his criminal connections.

Dhatt, who has no prior adult criminal record, is also subject to lifetime ban on possessing firearms.