One of two Mission men charged in the biggest bust of drugs, guns and cash in Ridge Meadow RCMP’s history was handed a 14-year sentence yesterday (April 27) in New Westminster Supreme Court.
Christopher Leigh Harmes, 38, was charged with 14 counts of drug trafficking and weapons charges in 2020, following a five-month investigation. With time served, he has 11 years left on his sentence.
The Crown sought a total sentence of 16 years, characterizing Harmes as a “merchant of misery.”
Justice Martha Delvin also had harsh words for Harmes as she deliberated over the aggravating factors in her sentence.
“Harmes was not a naïve, first time offender, nor was he trafficking in drugs to support an addiction,” she said. “He chose to engage in the lucrative drug trade … His motivation was pure greed.”
She noted that he had a history of drug and firearm offences, with charges 2010, 2012 and 2015, and he was capable of obtaining legitimate employment, having his first-year plumbing ticket.
Charges were laid after search warrants were served on two residences, one in Maple Ridge on Garden Street, and one in Mission on Columbia Street. Harmes was observed by two members of the Emergency Response Team trying to crawl out of a window.
A total of 72,000 doses of illicit drugs, including 3.5 kilograms of suspected “blue fentanyl” was seized by police, along with $114,000 in cash.
At a press conference following the arrest, Insp. Aaron Paradis said the blue fentanyl was linked to multiple overdose deaths throughout the Lower Mainland. “No community should have this amount of illegal drugs on their streets,” he said.
The year Harmes was arrested, there were 1,767 illicit drug toxicity deaths; over 30 per cent occurred in the Fraser Health region.
Harmes also faced nine weapons charges after police discovered a fully automatic submachine gun, semi-automatic pistol, other gun parts and several boxes of ammunition at the Columbia Street residence. One semi-automatic pistol was found “cocked,” with a bullet in the chamber.
“It was evident that Mr. Harmes was prepared to use the firearm in order to protect himself and his valuable commodities from intruders,” Delvin said, adding he was already the subject of three court-ordered firearm prohibitions
Harmes and Cashman unsuccessfully tried to have the search warrant on the Mission property (where they were believed to be living) thrown out, arguing that it couldn’t be connected to criminal activity.