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Chilliwack man gets 18 month sentence for role in dial-a-dope operation

Gilbert David Fenton will have six months house arrest as part of a conditional sentence order
A Chilliwack man has received an 18-month conditional sentence order for his role in a dial-a-dope operation. (Black Press file)

A Chilliwack man who sold fentanyl to an undercover police officer seven times has been given an 18-month conditional sentence order (CSO).

Gilbert David Fenton appeared before judge Peter La Prairie at the Chilliwack Law Courts Friday (Jan. 20). He pleaded guilty to one count of trafficking in controlled substance involving multiple transactions from 2019. From June 6 to 26 of that year, he was employed as part of a dial-a-dope operation. The undercover officer phoned a number to buy drugs and arrange to meet with Fenton.

The first two times, on June 6 and 11, he sold .2 grams of fentanyl for $40. The last five transactions were $50 deals for .3 grams of fentanyl.

He was put under surveillance and by following him police discovered the location of the ‘stash house’ where the drugs were coming from.

Several people were eventually charged.

Where many dial-a-dope runners are looking to feed their own addiction, in Fenton’s case, prosecution and defence said he was motivated by money. He had no prior criminal history, and both sides portrayed it as a bad decision, a mistake that he was deeply remorseful for.

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“He’s written what I think is a thoughtful letter of apology to the court where he accepts full responsibility and makes no excuses,” said defence lawyer Tony Tso. “He’s taken significant steps toward his own rehabilitation. He’s left the drug culture behind and fully dedicated himself to his work, his children and his family. He has shown through his actions and not just by talking that he is serious about turning his life around and he has taken steps to do so.”

Tso presented letters from family and his employer describing him as a hard working and diligent single father to two young boys. Fenton works as a foreman with M&M Excavating.

“The folks at M&M wrote Mr. Fenton a very positive letter,” Tso said. “Often there’s an incentive for clients to hide this kind of thing from employers. The fact that they (M&M) know about this and they’re still willing to support him shows how much they think of this man.”

La Prairie was also presented a Gladue report detailing how Fenton’s Indigenous background may have contributed to the crime.

His upbringing was described as difficult. Fenton’s grandmother was a residential school survivor and he was raised in poverty with parents who struggled with addiction. He wasn’t accepted by his Indigenous community and experienced racism growing up in Prince Rupert and later Chilliwack.

Fenton has not committed any more crimes in the three years since his arrest, with both sides agreeing he is a good candidate to serve a jail sentence in the community. His CSO includes six months of modified house arrest followed by a year’s probation with a 9 p.m. to 5 a.m. curfew. The house arrest allows him to go to work and medical appointments, and gives him six hours on Saturdays to run errands.


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Eric Welsh

About the Author: Eric Welsh

I joined the Chilliwack Progress in 2007, originally hired as a sports reporter.
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