New Brunswick

Cocaine sold in Saint John area was 'garbage,' officer testifies

Southern New Brunswick addicts and partiers were more likely to get numb noses than a fix from the cocaine they were buying from dealers in 2014, a trial in Saint John heard on Wednesday.

Benzocaine and caffeine used to dilute cocaine more likely to create numb noses than a high, trial hears

The cocaine imported from Quebec tested up to 65 per cent pure, but the Saint John drug ring added three times as many additives to make more money, RCMP say.

Southern New Brunswick addicts and partiers were more likely to get numb noses than a fix from the cocaine they were buying from dealers in 2014, a trial in Saint John heard on Wednesday.

RCMP Sgt. Marco Vachon, who was the lead investigator for the interprovincial drug operation known as J-Tornado, said one of the targeted drug rings in Saint John diluted cocaine it bought in Quebec so much, it was hard to call it cocaine by the time customers bought it.

"That's what we call cheap product," said Vachon. "A word I can find to describe it is 'garbage.'"

Vachon has been testifying for two days in the Court of Queen's Bench trial of Shane Williams, of Smithtown, and Joshua Kindred, of Saint John.

Police allege the co-accused, who are both in their 30s, operated one of two drug rings in southern New Brunswick targeted by their three-year, joint-forces investigation.

Vachon said although cocaine coming to Williams from Quebec tested up to 65 per cent pure, the Williams group would add three times as many additives to it to make more money.

The trial heard most of what users got was actually benzocaine — legally bought by the group on the internet and delivered by mail from Ohio.

Benzocaine is a legal, mild topical anesthetic, which would have had the effect of numbing the noses of users if they sniffed it.

Powdered caffeine was also used as an additive, the courtroom heard.

Considered selling 100% additives

Although customers were paying full prices, Vachon indicated when they would buy cocaine from local dealers, only about 15 per cent of what they were given was actually cocaine.

Some of the drugs, firearms and cash seized during Operation J-Tornado in southern New Brunswick on Sept. 10, 2014. (Matthew Bingley/CBC)
In an earlier J-Tornado case, police said when cocaine shipments to Saint John were interrupted late in the summer of 2014, they intercepted messages between Williams, known by the code name Prettynasty, and a third associate, Robert White, where the two discuss whether to sell cocaine to dealers made up of 100 per cent additives and no cocaine at all.

"By September 2nd, 2014 circumstances are so dire that Prettyynasty suggests to White that they press the 'cut' and sell that as the product — would be better than nothing," reads an agreed statement of facts submitted by the Crown and defence in White's case.

It is not made clear if that ever happened, but police arrested all J-Tornado suspects, including Williams, Kindred and White eight days later.

Vachon is scheduled to testify further on Thursday, when the trial resumes.

Williams and Kindred are both facing numerous drug possession, trafficking and conspiracy charges. They have been in custody for more than 19 months.

They were among 28 people arrested on Sept. 10, 2014, during a series of raids across New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and Quebec as a result of Operation J-Tornado.

Their judge-alone trial, now in its third week, was originally scheduled to take six weeks, but is running behind schedule, the court has heard. Justice William Grant is presiding.

About the Author

Robert Jones

Reporter

Robert Jones has been a reporter and producer with CBC New Brunswick since 1990. His investigative reports on petroleum pricing in New Brunswick won several regional and national awards and led to the adoption of price regulation in 2006.