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Langley man given house arrest after fentanyl bust in Williams Lake

Crown had asked for four and a half years behind bars after guilty plea
Williams Lake courthouse. (Monica Lamb-Yorski photo - Williams Lake Tribune)

A Langley drug trafficker will serve 16 months of partial house arrest after he was caught speeding near Williams Lake with fentanyl and $74,680 in his vehicle.

Stephen Tosh Maki, 30, pleaded guilty to possession for the purpose of trafficking and possession of a weapon dangerous to the public peace on Dec. 13, 2022.

He was sentenced in Williams Lake in July, 2023, but the judge’s reasons were only released on April 18, 2024.

Maki was arrested on Jan. 19, 2020 after a constable with the Williams Lake RCMP noticed a fast-moving SUV on Highway 97 near Blue Lake.

The SUV passed another car on a double-solid yellow line, doing 140 km/h in a 90 km/h zone. The officer approached to pull over the SUV, but it abruptly stopped in a brake check area.

As the Mountie pulled up behind it, Maki got out of the driver’s seat and began throwing up.

When the officer approached, he asked how the man was doing, and to see a driver’s license and registration. While Maki reached in to get his wallet, the officer spotted a large unsheathed hunting knife and what appeared to be a can of bear spray in the door pocket.

The vehicle, Maki told officers, belonged to “a buddy of a buddy,” which turned out to be a numbered company located in the Lower Mainland.

Maki was arrested, and a search of the vehicle turned up a plastic bag stuffed with cash, 42 grams of powdered fentanyl, and 804 fentanyl pills.

The court proceedings were somewhat lengthy as Maki launched Charter challenges, claiming his rights had been violated during the investigation. Those challenges were dismissed in late 2022, and Maki changed his plea to guilty.

Madame Justice Marguerite Church was given very different recommendations for a sentence from the Crown prosecutors and the defence.

The Crown asked for a sentence of four and a half years behind bars, characterizing Maki as a mid-level drug trafficker based on the amount of fentanyl found in the SUV, while Maki’s lawyers asked for a conditional sentence, which typically involves house arrest, followed by probation.

The judge also considered Maki’s previous record, which included assault, mischief, and possession of a weapon.

She detailed parts of his background, including alcohol and drug use starting at an early age, and various health challenges.

Before turning 30, Maki had been in two serious car crashes, was diagnosed with a brain tumour at age 18, and lost an eye after being attacked with brass knuckles.

Church agreed with the defence, giving Maki two years less a day of a conditional sentence, including eight months of house arrest 24 hours a day, followed by eight months with a curfew of between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m.

In making her decision, she considered that Maki had made positive changes since the day of his arrest, three and a half years before he was sentenced.

He has stayed sober and has been gainfully employed, and has complied with his conditions while on release.

“Let me be very clear, Mr. Maki, that a conditional sentence order is a jail sentence, but it is served in the community,” Church said.

She warned Maki that if he violated any terms of the order he could serve the rest of it behind bars.

The sentence is considerably shorter than some other recent sentences for fentanyl trafficking.

Hong “Carrie” Dinh, caught with a one-kilogram brick of fentanyl being transported from Langley to Victoria, received an eight-year prison term on Jan. 10 this year. She had no previous criminal record.

READ ALSO: Drug courier gets 8 years for moving fentanyl between Victoria, Langley

Matthew Claxton

About the Author: Matthew Claxton

Raised in Langley, as a journalist today I focus on local politics, crime and homelessness.
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