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Drug-trafficking brothers had enough supply to last a heavy user years, police say

A sheriff places handcuffs on Joshua Patton, 28, after his sentencing hearing in Newfoundland and Labrador Supreme Court Friday morning. Patton and his brother, 31-year-old James Patton, have been convicted of drug trafficking. They were arrested after a month-long RNC/RCMP investigation in 2017.
A sheriff places handcuffs on Joshua Patton, 28, after his sentencing hearing in Newfoundland and Labrador Supreme Court Friday morning. Patton and his brother, 31-year-old James Patton, have been convicted of drug trafficking. They were arrested after a month-long RNC/RCMP investigation in 2017. - Tara Bradbury/The Telegram

James and Joshua Patton have opted to start their certain jail sentence now, before they're actually sentenced

ST. JOHN'S, N.L. —

The court proceeding for James and Joshua Patton had ended Friday, when the elder brother asked if the judge could be called back in. He had a request: to be ordered taken into custody.

James Patton, 31, and his brother, Joshua Patton, 28, are facing certain jail time after pleading guilty to charges related to the trafficking of cocaine, oxycodone, marijuana and hash. Joshua has also been convicted of firearms offences.

“Two brothers working in operation to traffic in various controlled substances, the most serious being cocaine and oxycodone,” is how prosecutor Elaine Reid, who is dealing with the drugs offences, described the Pattons' crimes.

The two brothers have signed an agreed statement of facts in the case, which indicates they had become the subject of a joint RNC/RCMP investigation in December 2017. After a month-long investigation, which saw investigators track the brothers’ movements and keep an eye on their homes — one in Mount Pearl and one in C.B.S. — police obtained a warrant to search the residences.

The Pattons were arrested at Joshua’s Mount Pearl home after police executed the search warrant on Dec. 21, finding marijuana and oxycodone pills in a dresser drawer, cocaine in a backpack, marijuana in a vacuum-sealed bag in a bedroom safe, and pills, hash and marijuana in plastic bags on the living room table, along with $1,340 in cash.

At the end of his sentencing hearing in Newfoundland and Labrador Supreme Court Friday morning, James Patton, 31, requested to begin his certain jail term immediately. Here, a sheriff places handcuffs on him before escorting him to the lockup.
At the end of his sentencing hearing in Newfoundland and Labrador Supreme Court Friday morning, James Patton, 31, requested to begin his certain jail term immediately. Here, a sheriff places handcuffs on him before escorting him to the lockup.

Also seized were five cellphones, bear spray and two shotguns, one in a closet and one leaning against a bedroom wall. The one leaning against the wall had no trigger lock. More bear spray and ammunition were seized from a truck outside.

At James’ home in C.B.S., police found vacuum-sealed bags of hash and marijuana in the rec room, as well as cocaine in a plastic grocery bag and a plastic-lined box hidden above a ceiling tile. More cocaine was seized from the bedroom, as were four shotguns, all with trigger locks. James had a licence for the firearms.

According to a report by RCMP Cpl. David Emberley, there was enough cocaine to last a heavy user almost a year, and enough marijuana to last a heavy user almost 2 1/2 years. The amount of hash seized would likely do a heavy user just under a year-and-a-half, he wrote.

“Considering that after six months the THC level in marijuana is normally deteriorated to the point where the user would notice a dramatic difference in the high, it does not make sense why a person would be in possession of so much for personal use,” Emberley wrote.

Text message conversations on the brothers’ phones indicated they were dealing drugs.

“James was the ringleader of the business and would get his brother to sell for him,” Reid said Friday in Newfoundland and Labrador Supreme Court.

Also seized from the Mount Pearl home were 76 glass jars containing a fungus police believed to be magic mushrooms. The fungus was not identified and no charges were laid in connection with the jars.

Reid suggested a jail term of around two years for Joshua, with credit given for six months he has already spent in custody. For James, Reid suggested a jail term of 2 1/2 to three years.

When it comes to Joshua’s firearms offences, prosecutor Mike Murray suggested an additional 30 days in prison.

Representing Joshua, lawyer Randy Piercey said his client was “on the lower end of the stratosphere” in terms of the drugs.

“He was almost an assistant as opposed to the main person,” Piercey said, noting Joshua had not been the original target of the police investigation and had just moved into the house when his brother moved to C.B.S. Piercey suggested a jail term of between 10 and 16 months, minus his credit.

Defence lawyer Steven Orr, representing James, took issue with his client being called the “ringleader,” saying there was no extensive drug operation and no evidence James had control over Joshua.

“He does take responsibility for his actions. It’s very clear from the pre-sentence report that he is very ashamed for what he did. He’s sorry,” Orr said, adding that James is now in a stable family situation and has an employment prospect.

Justice Vikas Khaladkar will deliver his sentencing decision Sept. 3. In the meantime, he granted James’ request to begin his jail term now, and ordered him into custody. Joshua — who was already in custody, having been arrested on an unrelated domestic matter earlier this week — also opted to immediately begin his sentence on the drugs and weapons charges.

tara.bradbury@thetelegram.com

@tara_bradbury

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