A Surrey woman has been acquitted of drug trafficking charges after the judge found the Crown had failed to prove she knew about a criminal operation based out of a Whalley apartment.
Charleen Teresa Flintroy was charged with four counts of possessing cocaine, heroin, methamphetamine and methylphenidate for the purpose of trafficking, with the date of the alleged offences being Aug. 27, 2013.
“The case against the accused is entirely circumstantial,” Judge Gregory Rideout noted in his reasons for judgment.
“I find that the Crown has failed to establish beyond a reasonable doubt that the accused had knowledge that a drug-trafficking operation was taking place out of the apartment on August 27, 2013, and, therefore, she must be acquitted.”
The hearing was in Vancouver, in provincial court, and Rideout passed judgment on Jan. 31. He heard police did surveillance on an apartment building in Whalley, from where they suspected an apartment was the home base for the packaging and distribution of illicit drugs into Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside.
Two men were also arrested but their court cases had been severed from Flintroy’s.
The court heard that police found Flintroy’s 2012 tax return in the two-bedroom apartment, and two prescription bottles in her name. A black bag in a kitchen drawer contained $24,560, and in a bedroom closet there was a duffel bag containing $30,595 Canadian. In the living room, inside a City of Surrey bin with a lid, there was $1,888.89 in coins and next to the kitchen counter, a backpack containing $5,743.95 in coins.
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They also found envelopes addressed to Flintroy, three digital scales and a cannister of bear spray.
On August 27, 2013, a man was arrested while leaving the building. “He had large quantities of drugs on his person, packaged in quantities typical of street-level sales to users, including cocaine, codeine, heroin and methamphetamine,” Rideout noted. “The total street value of the drugs is estimated at $14,390.”
Later that day Flintroy was seen leaving the apartment building in her Porsche.
Roughly an hour later, police pulled over and arrested a man as he was leaving the building in an Acura and found an “Umbra” bag in his back seat, containing a bag with a Canadian flag design. “Within the two bags the police located large quantities of bulk and prepackaged drugs, cash, packaging materials, and packaging equipment,” the judge noted. “The estimated total value of the drugs, including cocaine, heroin, methamphetamine and methylphenidate, is estimated to be between $75,000 and $128,000 Canadian.”
Detective Constable Tara Monroe testified that the drugs found in the back of the car were consistent with a mid-level to upper mid-level drug trafficking operation.
“It was her opinion that the cash located at the Whalley Boulevard apartment was consistent with a drug trafficking operation,” Rideout observed.
The judge found that while Flintroy was a resident of the Surrey apartment, she also lived in Vancouver. He also found it was “reasonable to infer” that another resident of the Surrey apartment “shielded the accused from acquiring knowledge that drugs were packaged and sold out of the apartment.”
Moreover, Rideout noted, the Crown did not lead with evidence establishing how the drugs were stored inside the apartment, “leaving open the possibility” that the drugs were stored “discreetly out of the view of the accused.”
The judge also found it possible that the drugs found in the Umbra bag had not been in the apartment at the time Flintroy left that day.