A man sentenced to four and a half years in prison as an alleged mastermind in a Maple Ridge-to-Halifax drug ring had his conviction thrown out by a Nova Scotia judge this month.
Jeffrey Boyer was convicted in 2018 of six criminal charges linked to a conspiracy to move cannabis – which was still illegal for personal use at the time – from the Lower Mainland to the Maritimes.
The scheme was both audacious and simple. Couriers were given packages of cannabis and simply packed them up in suitcases and got onto domestic airline flights between Vancouver and Halifax. They would come back with the same suitcases crammed with cash, always more than $100,000 and once more than $300,000.
The scheme was busted by B.C. RCMP officers with the Federal Serious and Organized Crime unit (FSOC) in 2015, when after a months-long investigation that involved wiretaps, surveillance, and surreptitious opening of suitcases en route to check their contents, police swooped in on seven Lower Mainland men – mostly in Maple Ridge – and five men and a woman in the Halifax area.
The raids resulted in the seizure of $347,000 in cash, 235 pounds of cannabis, cannabis plants, cocaine and two pounds of hashish, as well as firearms and other weapons, money counting machines, sets of scales and vacuum sealers, and numerous vehicles.
Boyer, who was alleged to be one of the ringleaders during his trial, lived in Coquitlam but had a business called JMB Construction and Renovations in Maple Ridge, as well as a licence to grow up to 146 medical marijuana plants.
Boyer himself never travelled to Halifax during the investigation, but police and the Crown prosecutors at his first trial claimed he was directing others in the operation.
“Considering the evidence directly receivable against Mr. Boyer, I am satisfied on a balance of probabilities that Mr. Boyer was a member of the conspiracy,” Justice C. Richard Coughlan wrote in the decision to convict.
But Justice Carole Beaton of the Nova Scotia Court of Appeal wrote in her June 15 decision that the evidence was thin enough that there are other plausible explanations for Boyer’s actions than involvement in the conspiracy.
All the evidence against Boyer was circumstantial, which can be enough to convict, but should not have been in this case, Beaton said.
“A review of the judge’s decision does not indicate he considered any alternatives – an integral component in the exercise of the assessment of a circumstantial case,” Beaton said in her ruling.
She and her fellow Appeal Court judges ruled that the convictions were to be thrown out and acquittals entered on each of the six charges of which Boyer had previously been convicted.
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