A Surrey man convicted of drug and gun crimes related to a methamphetamine smuggling operation between here and New Zealand has been sentenced to 15 years in prison.
Justice Bruce Greyell found that in Surrey, elsewhere in B.C. and in New Zealand, Quang Dong Nguyen, 45, conspired with Linh Hoang and persons unknown to produce and export methamphetamine, and that he illegally possessed a 9 mm calibre Intratec model AB-10 handgun and a cartridge magazine loaded with 30 rounds of ammo. Police also seized a flash suppressor, a gadget that conceals the flash from a gun’s muzzle so as not to reveal the shooter’s location when the trigger’s pulled.
“I can only conclude Mr. Nguyen possessed the gun and the related bullets and magazine and suppressor for a purpose; a purpose that was not an innocent one,” Greyell said.
The case was heard in B.C. Supreme Court in New Westminster.
The Crown sought an 18-year sentence which the defence, arguing for 10, considered to be excessive. Greyell said deterrence and detention were the primary sentencing principles in this case.
The court heard that on Dec. 11, 2012 a brown cardboard box containing a dozen Monroe-brand automative shock absorbers was delivered to a FedEx courier facility in Vancouver, destined to be delivered to Aukland, New Zealand. Two Canadian Border Services Agency officers, who were at the facility checking outgoing packages, found methamphetamine. The shock absorbers had been cut open, hollowed out, filled with 94 per cent pure methamphetamine — worth up to $52,000 a kilo — wrapped in plastic, welded shut and repainted to match the original colour.
The shock absorbers, containing 2.861 kilograms of methamphetamine, were turned over to the RCMP, who then contacted police in New Zealand.
Three days later, the CBSA seized a second package containing 3.88 kilograms of metamphetamine also destined for New Zealand, and again police in that country were notified.
Hoang was convicted in New Zealand of conspiring to import, manufacture and supply methamphetamine. The court heard New Zealand authorities did wiretap surveillance on some phone numbers in that country and shared them with the RCMP. The investigation led to police executing a search warrant on Nguyen’s residence in Newton, from which documents and other items were seized.
The court heard Nguyen was born into a family of fishermen, in Vietnam, and he, his parents and six brothers and sisters left Vietnam when he was 10 and spent the next four and a half years in an “extremely harsh and violent” refugee camp in Hong Kong. They came to Canada when he was 14.
Greyell took into account Nguyen’s previous criminal record as an aggravating factor. In 1993 he was sentenced to a year in prison for manslaughter. “That sentence was varied on appeal and increased to a sentence of four years incarceration based on Mr. Nguyen’s participation in that offence,” Greyell noted. In 1995 he was convicted of drug trafficking, for which he was sentenced to three months concurrent to the manslaughter sentence. In 2001, he received a conditional sentence, or house arrest, for producing cannabis, and a lifetime firearm ban.
“While Mr. Nguyen’s criminal record is dated, it is of concern, and in my view the latter two convictions are to be considered as aggravating circumstances in this case because Mr. Nguyen obviously did not learn from his prior involvement in prohibited substances and clearly was in breach of the lifetime firearm prohibition imposed in 2001.”