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Jail drug-dealing B.C. special education assistant nine years, Crown says

Crown said the amount of fentanyl was an "atom bomb" for killing people in B.C.
Vancouver Provincial Court hearing room 514 where Karina Marie Xavier Graham's case was heard.

A woman who became involved in high-level drug dealing after becoming involved with a gang-connected, imprisoned man should be jailed for nine years, a Vancouver Provincial Court judge heard May 13.

Karina Marie Xavier Graham, 33, has pleaded guilty to one count of fentanyl trafficking between Sept. 4 and Nov. 22, 2020.

She was before Judge Ellen Gordon on May 13 for a sentencing hearing but that is now delayed while the court awaits a psychiatric report.

“She was a front person,” Crown prosecutor David Hartney told Gordon. “She arranged for the deliveries. She arranged for multiple suppliers. She did not have to do this.” 

Hartney told Gordon an undercover Vancouver police officer had bought 7.6 grams of fentanyl from Graham at a donut shop.

After that was tested, a second buy was arranged. This time, the officer purchased a kilogram of fentanyl for $150,000. It was about 56 per cent pure.

The court heard another meetup was arranged on Nov. 21, 2020. A man got into the officer’s vehicle with a bag and showed the officer drugs. There was more than two kilograms of fentanyl in the bag with a purity of about 26 per cent.

The court heard Graham is trained in special education with a degree from Kwantlen Polytechnic University.

Gordon was told Graham turned to selling drugs because the jailed man — Sylvester Raju — asked her to and because she didn’t make enough in special education.

Hartney said the crime was committed for greed and profit.

Graham had initially been charged May 16, 2023 with four such counts. She pleaded guilty to one amended count Nov. 29.

At one point, she had told the officer it was easy to incorrectly mix fentanyl with cutting ingredients, saying some user would have the most powerful opioid high “he’s ever going to have in his whole life, his last one.”

The judge called fentanyl “the most dangerous drug in British Columbia.”

Hartney said Graham had indicated she was aware of how many people it would have affected if the substance had hit the streets.

“This was an atom bomb in terms of its potential for killing people in our province,” Hartney said.

The romance

The court heard Raju was connected with the United Nations and Wolfpack drug gangs.

Under questioning from Gordon, Graham said she had come into contact with Raju via a mutual friend in 2017. She said they were in regular contact over the phone while he was in a pre-sentencing facility that year.

They remained in contact when he was at Kent Institution, using contraband cellphones, and when he moved to an Alberta prison.

Even after her arrest she had remained in touch with him, going to see him in Regina in 2021 where he was eventually told he was breaching his parole and contact stopped.

Even before that, though, she said he would threaten her or threaten to visit her family if she did not do his bidding.

“He wouldn’t leave me alone,” Graham told Gordon.

She said she started dealing the drugs — which Hartney called a high-level, wholesale operation — in 2020 and stopped after she was arrested.

Hartney said Raju had become abusive with her in their first visit.

“That should have been a red flag,” he said. “She walked into a federal institution and started a relationship with someone.”

Judge Gordon questioned what level of self-esteem someone would have to start a relationship with a person in prison. She said that’s the kind of person who is preyed upon.

“He’s an animal,” she said.

Raju was convicted to six years in prison for firearm offences, Organized Crime Agency of BC member Ross Clark told Gordon.

The court heard Graham has no substance abuse issues or a criminal record.

Defence lawyer Zack Myers is seeking a conditional sentence.

Hartney told Gordon the sentence range for such a charge is eight to 15 years in prison.