'You gambled with their lives': Winnipeg man gets 10 years for importing fentanyl
Sentencing a first for importation of the powerful, deadly drug into Manitoba
A Winnipeg man previously convicted of running a pot delivery service has been handed a 10-year sentence in Manitoba's first case of fentanyl importation.
Ray Alder John Csincsa, 55, pleaded guilty in April to importing the drug from China on three separate occasions in 2016.
At Csincsa's sentencing Thursday, Court of Queen's Bench Justice Chris Martin said the prison term was meant to act as a deterrent to anyone else considering importing the deadly drug.
"Other people who might be inclined to do what you did … and ultimately roll the with dice with some poor addict's life must know that this will be treated exceptionally seriously by the courts," said Martin before accepting the jointly recommended sentence.
While Csincsa originally pleaded guilty only to importing fentanyl, he admitted in court Thursday that he had also intended to sell the drug, which court heard is 100 times more powerful than morphine.
Csincsa was arrested and charged after Canadian Border Services officers in Winnipeg and Vancouver intercepted three separate suspicious packages coming from China en route to a home on Church Avenue.
In each package, agents found a small tin foil envelope filled with powdered fentanyl. Between the three packages a total 14.26 grams of the drug was seized.
While all packages were sent to the same address, court heard one of the packages was addressed to Csincsa while the other two were addressed to a "Thomas Greene."
Csincsa was arrested July 29, 2016, after he identified himself as Thomas Greene to an undercover RCMP officer who was acting as a delivery person dropping off one of the seized packages.
Officers then searched Csincsa's home and found an additional 1.7 grams of fentanyl, as well as marijuana, heroin, meth, cocaine and $4,780 in cash.
Crown attorney Kirsty Elgert said there was enough fentanyl seized from Csincsa's home to produce roughly 11,000 units of the drug once it was mixed with cutting agents.
She said those units sell for $20 each on the street.
As well as the cash, officers found notebooks in Csincsa's bedroom containing handwritten instructions on how to purchase fentanyl on the dark web using bitcoin.
Previous pot charges
Court heard Csincsa started smoking pot and turned to harder drugs after his marriage fell apart 11 years ago and he was laid off from his job as a painter in 2013.
Csincsa first caught the attention of Winnipeg police in 2015 after he began openly smoking pot on social media and advertising his cannabis delivery service on Facebook.
He was arrested in April 2016 after an undercover officer bought half an ounce of marijuana for $110 cash. It was the fourth time an undercover officer purchased pot from Csincsa in a matter of months, court documents say.
Csincsa pleaded guilty in April 2017 to four counts of drug trafficking in relation to the pot sales and was sentenced to eight months, as recommended jointly by the defence and the Crown.
At the time of his sentencing for the pot charges, Csincsa had already spent five and a half months in jail and would have been released from custody but he remained behind bars on charges of importing a controlled substance.
Csincsa apologized to court Thursday, vowing to "never be involved with illegal drugs again."
In his sentencing, Martin called fentanyl a "highly dangerous" drug and said Csincsa would have put people's lives at risk had he gotten the chance to sell it on the street.
"Because of the very nature of this drug, and where it is obtained … it magnifies the lethal nature of what you were doing," he said.
"For every person that would have received some portion of these drugs, you rolled the dice with their life because you have no idea what kind of drugs you actually got, you have no idea that there was any quality control.
"You gambled with their lives every time."
With files from Caroline Barghout