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New West police impersonated a dead woman in cocaine trafficking bust

An officer pretended to be a former customer who a cocaine dealer was unaware had died of an overdose weeks prior, court heard
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“Hey. Sweet. You guys gonna be around in a bit?”

Devin and Elliott Bains received the text message at around 10:30 a.m. on March 16, 2018. They believed it came from a past customer, “Kat,” unaware that Kat was dead.

The brothers responded in the affirmative.

“Kk, come to the back of my building in like half an hour,” came the next text from "Kat."

The meeting that followed would be the Bains brothers’ undoing. The customer whose phone they were texting died weeks prior of an overdose. The texts they were coming from an undercover officer in a drug trafficking investigation.

The phone was obtained by the New Westminster Police Department major crimes unit after the woman’s death, and it was handed to an undercover officer.

Shortly before 10:30 a.m., the Bains brother had sent out a mass text message to their customers:

“Hey, hope everyone is having a great start to 2018. We are doing fulls [grams] for 70 [dollars] until the end of the weekend. Cheers.”

They were unaware at the time that an undercover officer had been holding the phone, plotting at that very moment to contact them to buy a gram of cocaine.

The officer jumped on the opportunity and responded. Soon after, the brothers told the officer they were five minutes out and asked which alley was Kat’s. The undercover officer responded with the appropriate cross streets. Nearby, police prepared the undercover officer to go and meet with the Bains brothers.

When a grey Dodge Charger pulled up, the undercover officer approached the car’s passenger side and greeted Devin. In the driver’s seat was younger brother, Elliott.

After the officer gave Devin $70, she asked for a gram of cocaine, but the dealer hesitated.

“Who are you?” he asked, to which she responded that she was Kat. When he pressed her on the matter, saying she looked different, she made up a story: She had been out of town and got a haircut. He remained skeptical, asking if she wanted to do some of the drugs with him – perhaps a test to see if she was a cop.

She declined, saying she had a baby in a crib, but he pressed her further. When she raised her voice and told him he was “heat score” – acting in a way that could raise suspicions of passersby or police – he relented and gave her a gram of cocaine and drove off.

The details of that interaction, in which New Westminster police impersonated a recently dead woman, were revealed in a recent sentencing hearing for Devin. No details have been made public about the identity of the woman.

The brothers were originally hit with several firearms charges and possession for the purpose of trafficking after a search warrant was later executed on their home in Delta. They also faced a trafficking charge for the sale to the undercover cop in New West.

But last year, a B.C. provincial court judge ruled the search of their home was unconstitutional. Defence lawyers claimed unreasonable search and seizure, inadequate access to legal counsel and arbitrary detainment. The judge’s ruling in the case meant evidence arising from the search warrant could not be admitted in trial.

That led to all charges against Elliott being dropped, and all Delta charges being dropped for Devin. Devin pleaded guilty to the trafficking charge arising from the meeting with New West police.

In a sentencing hearing on Friday, Jan. 3, prosecutors called for a nine-month sentence, while defence called for a 90-day to six-month sentence.

Judge Therese Alexander sentenced Devin to six months in jail, noting that his trafficking was motivated by profit rather than by addiction – $29,000 was found in a safe in his room when the search warrant was executed.

But the judge did acknowledge the Bains brothers’ troubled upbringing as a likely influence, including their father’s suicide, being bullied by peers for the suicide in elementary school and witnessing their uncle’s death by apparent overdose.

“Mr. Bains, you have made a mistake,” she said. “You’re young. You’ve got a life ahead of you. Do not let this mistake define you. Learn from it. Draw on the support that you have. And I don’t ever expect to see you again.”