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Kelowna man sentenced six years for drug trafficking

Jason Keehn, now 38, was arrested in December 2017 as part of a large-scale Kelowna RCMP investigation targeting the Red Scorpion gang.
The Kelowna Law Courts.

A Kelowna man who was found with a kilogram of methamphetamine and fentanyl and half a kilogram cocaine in his apartment back in December 2017 was finally sentenced to significant jail time Wednesday, just five days before he was scheduled to begin trial

Jason Keehn, now 38, was arrested in December 2017 as part of a large-scale Kelowna RCMP investigation targeting the Red Scorpion gang.

According to the Kelowna RCMP, Project E-Precedent involved 15 separate search warrants executed in 2017 and 2018 that saw the seizure of approximately 5.5 kilograms of fentanyl and carfentanil, three kilograms of methamphetamine, 1.5 kilograms of cocaine, GHB, ecstasy, and other pharmaceutical drugs, along with a number of firearms and more than $130,000 in cash. Charges were laid in October 2020 against five people who police alleged had connections to the Red Scorpion gang.

Close to six years after police executed a search warrant at Keehn's apartment, he finally pleaded guilty Wednesday morning, a week before this three-week trial was scheduled to begin.

While Keehn was facing 16 separate charges, including six drug charges and 10 firearms charges, the Crown accepted a plea deal that saw him plead guilty to just one count of trafficking in methamphetamine and fentanyl and possession of cocaine, methamphetamine and fentanyl for the purpose of trafficking.

In a joint submission, Crown prosecutor Jennifer Crews and defence counsel Justin Dosanjh proposed a total sentence of six years in prison, minus 485 days enhanced credit for time served.

Crews told Justice Allan Betton her initial sentencing position was closer to nine years in jail, based solely on the amount of fentanyl found in the apartment, but she changed her mind after speaking with RCMP investigators.

“Notwithstanding the wholesale quantities found in the Mount Baldy apartment, the investigators were confident that Mr. Keehn was simply a street-level dealer and a drug sitter; he certainly wasn't the directing mind of this drug organization ... to be fair, he wasn't even a mid-level dealer,” Crews said.

“With that said, the quantity of fentanyl found in the apartment can't be overlooked and the devastating impact fentanyl is having on our community can't be overstated.”

Keehn first came across the Kelowna RCMP's radar after a confidential informant told police in November 2017 that two men in a Honda Accord and a blue Chevrolet Cobalt were selling drugs in Kelowna. Police located the Accord, registered to Keehn, and surveilled him for several weeks. On Dec. 12, 2017, police arrested a man shortly after he had met with Keehn, and found 1.5 grams of fentanyl and 7.79 grams of methamphetamine on the man.

The next day, police executed the search warrant at Keehn's apartment at 2515 Mount Baldy Drive, off Dilworth Drive, where officers found the kilogram of fentanyl and methamphetamine and the half kilogram of cocaine, along with six guns.

Crews said Keehn was just “Phase 1” of 10 different targets identified in Project E-Precedent.

Despite the large quantities of drugs found in Keehn's apartment, defence counsel Dosanjh agreed with the Crown that his client was simply a “pawn” in the drug trafficking operation. Dosanjh said Keehn had previously lost his job and his housing, and he was living at the “stash house” as a sort of “babysitter” for the drugs.

He said Keehn has also struggled with addiction, and has been “in the trenches of addiction” since the charges were laid. Dosanjh said this was why Keehn has missed a number of court dates over the past several years.

While police said back in 2020 that Project E-Precedent targeted the Red Scorpion gang, the Crown made no mention of the gang during Wednesday's sentencing. To date, Keehn faces the toughest sentence of those targeted in Project E-Precedent.

In March 2022, the Crown stayed charges against Keehn's co-accused, Jonathan Sierra, although it's not known why. Another man charged in the Project E-Precedent investigation, Benjamin Bridger, pleaded guilty in August 2021 to possession for the purpose of trafficking and possessing a prohibited firearm. He was given a three-year suspended sentence, which allowed him to serve his sentence out of custody.

Nikolas Parisee, another of the five accused, also struck a plea deal with the Crown in February 2021 and was handed two years of probation.

Travis Cumming, who's facing four charges of possession for the purpose of trafficking and one firearm charge, was scheduled to face trial in February 2023, but the trial was delayed. He's yet to face trial on the charges.