February 22nd, 2024

Man chooses jail over fine for drug possession


By Delon Shurtz - Lethbridge Herald on February 3, 2024.

LETHBRIDGE HERALDdshurtz@lethbridgeherald.com

A Lethbridge man who received a hefty fine for drug possession, has chosen to spend time in jail, instead.

Jeffery Carlos Santos, who was facing a charge of drug possession for the purpose of trafficking, instead pleaded guilty in Lethbridge court of justice Thursday to the lesser charge of simple drug possession. Although he was only levied a fine, he chose to serve the default jail time of eight days in jail.

He won’t be getting out of custody right away, however, because he is still serving a sentence for a previous drug-related conviction.

Court was told that Calgary police began a drug investigation last May relating to another suspect, but while watching the intended suspect in August, officers became aware of Santos for the first time in the investigation.

The following October police searched Santos’ basement suite in the 1000 block of 13 Street South in Lethbridge and arrested Santos and his girlfriend. Police also seized $195 in cash, 29.5 grams of cocaine with a street value of nearly $3,000, 8.5 grams of crack cocaine worth about $850 and six grams of fentanyl worth $600.

Federal Crown Prosecutor Lajvir Benipal pointed out Santos has a criminal record that includes a conviction for impaired driving in Manitoba in 2011, and an August 2023 conviction for drug possession for the purpose of trafficking, for which he received a 360-day conditional sentence order (CSO) with house arrest. He was convicted for breaching his CSO only four months later.

“We’re suggesting a thousand-dollar fine,” Calgary lawyer Dean Zuk confirmed, adding that is not the only consequence of his client’s actions.

“Mr. Santos was serving on house arrest when there were drugs found in his house, so (the CSO) has been partially collapsed. That’s why he’s in custody today.”

The collapse of his CSO means Santos must serve the remainder of his sentence – four more months – in actual jail, plus the eight days to which he was just sentenced.

Santos’ girlfriend, Tayler Sander, was charged with drug possession for the purpose of trafficking, as well, but the charge was withdrawn Thursday. She was also wanted on a warrant, but it was vacated.

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