Cocaine enters jail in botched drug search

·2 min read

It’s a severe sentence for a Sarnia man convicted of two cocaine trafficking charges in less than three months.

But Ryan Dionne was spared a heavier hand from Justice Deborah Austin after $3,000 worth of his cocaine found its way into the Sarnia Jail.

The mishap occurred July 16 when Dionne, 31, was pulled over by police after leaving a Sarnia drug house. He was in breach of his curfew and a search found two stun guns, a replica firearm and a flick knife.

Dionne was lodged in the Sarnia Jail. But it wasn’t until a month later that jail staff discovered what the search hadn’t found: 25 grams of cocaine. It was sitting in Dionne’s duffel bag the whole time.

Austin wasn’t impressed with the shoddy search. “It’s alarming that police, and jail authorities upon his admission to the jail, did not locate this,” she says.

“If it hadn’t been detected by jail authorities, it would have been handed to you upon your release to be able to be redistributed in the community,” says Austin. “The vigilance and importance of the way in which people are arrested and their property processed, perhaps lessons can be learned from this scenario.”

Austin concluded that since Dionne couldn’t have expected to end up in jail that night, the arrival of the cocaine was not intentional. Dionne also didn’t have access to the duffel bag while in jail.

While he wasn’t at fault for this oversight, Dionne was at fault for his actions soon after release. On Nov. 12 he was caught up in a raid at an Exmouth St. drug house following an investigation of the owner by the Sarnia Police Vice Unit. Numerous drugs, weapons and drug paraphernalia were found in the house.

Cocaine located in Dionne’s possession totalled 49.48 grams, worth an estimated $5,930.

Austin was disappointed Dionne learned nothing from his summer stint in jail. “That didn’t stop you from finding more (cocaine) and getting yourself back right into that activity,” she says. “These matters are very troubling because they reflect a deep involvement in the drug subculture… in a repeat fashion.”

In Sarnia Court Mar. 19, Dionne received 15 months on the first trafficking charge and 18 months for the second. His two year, 9 month sentence is offset by 209 days of time served, leaving him just under two years and two months. Austin advised Dionne take substance abuse counselling and vocational programming to assist his rehabilitation prospects.

A 10 year firearms ban is also in store for Dionne, as well as a DNA sample and forfeiture of weapons, cell phones and drug items.

Alex Kurial, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Independent