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$1.1M stash of cash found in blocks, charges tossed

A man arrested after Saanich police found more than $1 million stuffed in concrete blocks in the backyard of his Saanich home is no longer facing criminal charges in connection with the cash.
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A man arrested after Saanich police found more than $1 million stuffed in concrete blocks in the backyard of his Saanich home is no longer facing criminal charges in connection with the cash.

Alexander Djafar-Zade was charged with possessing cocaine and possessing MDMA for the purpose of trafficking, possession of GHB and having $1.14 million in his possession, knowing that all or part of the proceeds had been obtained from the commission of an offence.

Those charges arose out of a search of his house on May 25, 2016, said criminal defence lawyer Dale Marshall.

The proceeds of crime charge was thrown out after a preliminary hearing in 2018, Marshall said. The $1.14 million is now the subject of a forfeiture application by the Crown.

This week, Djafar-Zade pleaded guilty to possession of cocaine for the purpose of trafficking. The count arose out of a second search of Djafar-Zade’s house on Aug. 11, 2016, Marshall said.

A date for Djafar-Zade’s sentencing is expected to be set in early April. The 51-year-old is not in custody. He was released on $50,000 bail two years ago.

Djafar-Zade was scheduled to go to trial on April 23 on the other charges arising from the May 2016 charges. That trial has now been adjourned pending sentencing, Marshall said.

“After sentencing on the one count of possession of cocaine for the purpose of trafficking, the Crown will be dropping all of those charges,” Marshall told Justice Brian MacKenzie on Wednesday in B.C. Supreme Court.

Djafar-Zade was one of four people arrested in a South Island drug bust two years ago. Police found thick wads of $100 and $50 bills stuffed in concrete blocks in the backyard of his Torrington Place home.

The investigation also led Sidney-North Saanich RCMP to the discovery of clandestine drug laboratories in an outbuilding in rural North Saanich and a rental home in Shawnigan Lake. They seized cocaine, methamphetamine, thousands of doses of GHB, steroids and pill presses.

Djafar-Zade was not charged in connection with the clandestine drug lab, Marshall stressed.

In January, a Greater Victoria couple who ran these clandestine drug labs pleaded guilty to producing and selling anabolic steroids.

Meagan Breanna Blake, 28, a former University of Victoria biology student, pleaded guilty to three counts of producing various anabolic steroids and three counts of possession of anabolic steroids for the purpose of trafficking.

Justice Geoff Gaul gave Blake an 18-month conditional jail sentence, 100 hours of community service and a $10,000 fine.

Christopher Hyland, 28, pleaded guilty to the same six counts, plus unlawfully producing GHB, commonly known as the date rape drug, unlawful possession of GHB for the purpose of trafficking, and unlawfully transporting GBL, a substance used to manufacture GHB. The offences took place in the spring of 2016 when he was on probation. Hyland was sentenced to 30 months in prison and fined $10,000.

Another man, James Rempel, was charged under the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act with unlawfully transporting GBL.

He was given an absolute discharge and ordered to pay a $1,000 victim surcharge fine.

ldickson@timescolonist.com