Virden couple jailed for drug trafficking

A couple found guilty of running a street-level drug trafficking operation out of their Virden home have both been handed two-year jail sentences.

Kasey Packham, 28, and Jenna Mallette, 24, were found guilty of possession of cocaine for the purpose of trafficking, possession of proceeds obtained by crime and two counts of possession of a weapon for a dangerous purpose after a trial in Brandon’s Court of Queen’s Bench earlier this year.

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The charges stem from an incident in February 2017, according to a police report, where Virden RCMP were called to the home and saw drugs and drug paraphernalia present when they entered.

Officers executed a Controlled Drug and Substances Act warrant and seized approximately two grams of crack cocaine — which was kept in a black, cardboard package labelled "crack" — approximately seven grams of Psilocybin or magic mushrooms, 12 grams of marijuana roaches in a pill bottle as well as several types of pipes and other drug paraphernalia contaminated with drug residue.

They also found approximately $2,000 in Canadian cash in a black safe hidden behind a secret compartment of a dresser.

The house was hooked up with a sophisticated video surveillance system with cameras pointing to the front door, the back door, the back lane and the front street.

A machete and an imitation handgun were also found in plain view in the home.

Dime bags of cocaine were found on Packham and Mallette when they were arrested.

Mallette told police at the time that both she and Packham were drug users and that the surveillance system was because they had been robbed before.

Crown attorney Christina Cheater told the court on Wednesday, May 9, "Although this was definitely street-level and they were users at the time, there is a little bit more involved when we have individuals who set up surveillance that seem to be more organized.

"This wasn’t a hand-to-mouth operation — this was a highly sophisticated operation. They were, in fact, using, but clearly they were in the business of selling drugs."

The Crown asked the court to consider two-year sentences for both accused. However, Packham’s lawyer, Jennifer Janssens, asked the court to consider a sentence of 12 months and Mallette’s lawyer, Bob Harrison, argued a sentence of no more than 18 months would be sufficient.

Packham has come a long way since the offence, Janssens said, getting sober and finding stable employment.

He also takes full responsibility for his actions and what occurred, Janssens added.

"He has expressed remorse for the offences and he has insight into the impact of the drug trade on the community, specifically with respect to the small community that he was living in at the time and what type of impact that had on individuals themselves and the community at large," Janssens said.

Packham told the court, "I know that what I did was wrong and that I hurt a lot of people. I’m at my best when I’m working at a job and am a constructive person. I’m leaps and bounds different from 2017 to right now. I just want to get back to being a normal citizen and a constructive citizen."

Mallette also has acknowledged she made "terrible decisions" while an addict, Harrison said, but has also taken steps in rehabilitation.

"She is making positive changes in her life," Harrison said.

While acknowledging the improvements both accused have made in their lives, Justice Robert Cummings said the aggravating factors in the case could not be overlooked.

"This is a classic street-level operation… being run by people — Mr. Packham and Ms. Mallette — who were both addicted to drugs themselves. It’s a situation that the courts often see," Cummings said.

"What is a little unusual here, and is aggravating, is the fact that although there wasn’t a large volume of drugs, there was a large volume of cash. The combination of the two — whether that be more drugs and less cash, or less drugs and more cash — allow one to conclude this was a sophisticated operation. … To corroborate that conclusion is the fact there was sophisticated surveillance equipment on the premises."

Packham was sentenced to two years in jail followed by one year of supervised probation.

He has a credit of 82 days for pre-sentence custody, which will be subtracted from his sentence.

Mallette was also sentenced to two years in jail, minus a credit of 110 days for pre-sentence custody.

Her sentence will also be followed by one year of supervised probation.

Both Packham and Mallette were given a 10-year weapons prohibition.

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