One of the Fraser Valley’s biggest drug dealers is off to prison, but his sentence is not nearly as long as asked for by the Crown.
Chilliwack’s Clayton Archie Eheler was handed eight years and 144 days in jail for drug trafficking by a provincial court judge in Surrey on Tuesday. Crown counsel sought 14 years for Eheler who is a former Bacon Brothers associate and widely regarded as a top-level B.C. illicit drug dealer.
|Mathew Thiessen was convicted along with Clayton Eheler for cocaine trafficking in 2018. He was sentenced to six years in jail on Nov. 19, 2019. (File)|
Eheler and co-accused Mathew Jordan Thiessen were caught red-handed with nine kilograms of cocaine they were processing with several kilograms of cutting agents in a Brett Avenue apartment back in 2014.
A third individual first charged, Raymond Morissey, was not convicted in the case.
Over the years Eheler used a high profile defence lawyer to force delay after delay in the case, which began as a criminal investigation by the province’s anti-gang unit, the Combined Forces Special Enforcement Unit (CFSEU-BC).
They two were part of a Chilliwack-based crime cell involved in drug distribution across the province.
In court in Surrey on Tuesday, Thiessen was sentenced to six years in jail. Both men were charged with one count of possession for the purpose of trafficking dating back to Nov. 18, 2014.
The two used multiple legal manouevres over the years including two last-ditch attempts this year to avoid justice. There were multiple voir dire hearings for alleged Charter breaches and a failed application for a mistrial. Then in January of this year, the pair argued their Charter rights were violated because the case took more than 30 months from arraignment to conviction. Under the so-called Jordan framework the presumptive ceiling of time a case should take in provincial court is 18 months.
Judge Robert Browning dismissed the application.
The CFSEU-BC investigation into the Chilliwack-based crime cell that included Eheler and Thiessen involved numerous arrests over the years, including in 2015 when eight men were charged with various crimes connected to a of cash, weapons, and more than $5 million worth of fentanyl, cocaine, crystal meth and other drugs and cutting agents in residences on McIntosh Drive and Nowell Street, and various storage lockers.
Eheler also almost slipped through the fingers of authorities this year when, while out on bail, he applied for a passport in his cousin’s name. That application was made on March 6. The passport was issued on April 9. Facial recognition software now used by Global Affairs Canada led to the identification of Eheler as the man in the photo with the passport under the different name.
On June 20, CFSEU-BC was notified of the fake passport picked up by Eheler. A search warrant was issued, and executed on his Chilliwack Mountain residence on Sunrise Drive on June 26.
During the raid Eheler was leaving the house and was found with a “large amount of cash” and a valid passport in his own name. Inside the house anti-gang officers found ammunition, firearms, an instructional sheet for filling out a passport, an allegedly false birth certificate in Eheler’s name, and a press used for cocaine processing inside the residence.
His bail was revoked and he remained in custody until the sentencing on Nov. 19.
Eheler has a lengthy criminal history and is a former associate of the Bacon brothers. His younger brother was 25-year-old Zacharia Nicholli Cross, victim an unsolved homicide in 2018.