A man who used to be a sheriff's deputy in Nova Scotia before he pleaded guilty to 10 drug-related charges is in court for his sentencing hearing.

Tyrone David, 43, was arrested more than three years ago after Halifax Regional Police saw a young woman pass an envelope to a uniformed sheriff's deputy in the parking lot of Arby's, not far from the Dartmouth courthouse.

The envelope contained hash, heroin and amphetamines.

Authorities say he was part of a plot to smuggle drugs into the Burnside jail to notorious crime leader Jimmy Melvin Jr.

Sources told CBC News the woman allegedly involved in the drug trade, Kathleen Kierans, was the girlfriend of Melvin.

Kierans had been co-accused with David but she was found dead in her Dartmouth apartment in July 2011.

An RCMP drug expert told the court Wednesday that the quantity and variety of drugs seized from David were worth five to 10 times their regular street value because they were to be distributed within the secure facility where drugs are harder to come by.

Police said they seized $700 cash from David when he was arrested and they recovered $1,100 more when they searched his vehicle. The drug expert said the street value of the drugs found on David matches the $700 that they found on him.

The officer told the court he believes that David smuggled before.

"It's my opinion that this was not the first occasion. The quantity is so large that it's not consistent, in my opinion, with a test run," he said.

The judge hearing the case said he will not pass a sentence today.

Justice Pat Duncan said there's too much information to absorb.

Crown attorney Susan Bour recommended that the former sheriff's deputy be sentenced to a minimum of six years in prison, plus submit to a DNA order, undergo a weapons ban, forfeit the cash seized by the RCMP and be fined a surcharge of $1,000.

Duncan questioned the recommendation, saying that a six-year sentence is outside the established range for similar crimes.

About 30 of David's family and friends packed the Halifax courtroom for his sentencing.

Ten of them have provided letters of support to the court.