THUNDER BAY - A southern Ontario man pleaded guilty on Thursday to a drug trafficking charge after he was arrested in the early spring by Thunder Bay police during a drug investigation.
Melvin Oppong, 28, of Brampton pleaded guilty to the drug charge and failing to comply with a court order after he was found in Thunder Bay despite being on bail with a condition to not be in the northwestern Ontario city from April 16.
Oppong was initially arrested on March 25 by Thunder Bay police after a drug search warrant was executed at a Windsor Street community housing unit, court heard on Thursday, Nov. 12.
Federal crown counsel Misbah Haque said the residence was being investigated for ongoing drug trafficking activity. Police obtained and executed a search warrant on March 25 where Oppong and his co-accused, Lindsay Amber Aden, were both arrested within the home.
Police found 8.7 grams of crack coaine, $5,730 in cash and cutting agents, Haque said.
Court also heard Oppong had been granted release from custody on a $7,500 bail plan on April 16 with his father acting as his surety which required him not to communicate with his co-accused and remain in southern Ontario.
On Nov. 10, Thunder Bay police attended Aden’s house on Windsor Street in Thunder Bay after police were informed by Thunder Bay District Housing staff that Oppong was present at the home and believed he wasn’t supposed to be in the city.
“Police officers then attended the residence to do a check on whether Mr. Oppong was there and he was,” Haque said, adding, Aden first told police officers no one was in the house and then found Oppong hiding in an upstairs bedroom closet.
Defence counsel for Oppong said his client was in the city for his upcoming court appearance and also to see his son who he shares with Aden. The defence lawyer also told the court Oppong’s surety had to leave the country for a family death in Ghana.
Haque told the court there was evidence Oppong had been in Thunder Bay several weeks prior to the police visit on Nov. 10.
“I heard submissions that the fault or the reason why the breach happened was that there was an emergency and unfortunately and sadly his father had to travel to Ghana,” Haque said. “But that’s not the reason why the breach happened. The breach happened because Mr. Oppong travelled to Thunder Bay.”
The Crown also added there have been no in-person court proceedings for months due to COVID-19 and due to fire which closed the Thunder Bay Courthouse on Oct. 4.
Haque said due to several conditions of Oppong’s release order being breached he suggested a 30-day custodial sentence was warranted for the breach of undertaking charge. Defence counsel argued a time-served sentence was appropriate for Oppong.
Judge Peter Bishop accepted a joint sentence submission of time served for the possession of cocaine for the purpose of trafficking offence. Oppong has spent 20 days in pre-sentence custody and was given credit at an enhanced rate of 30 days.
For the breach offence, Bishop sentenced Oppong to 10 days going forward saying he accepted the difficulties he had with his surety.
Oppong apologized for his actions when he was asked to speak in court.
“You want your son to grow up knowing that his father is a productive, useful member of the community and not a drug dealer whose going to be in and out of jail,” Bishop said. “It’s easy for me to say but you’re the one who has to turn things around.”
Oppong also received a 10-year weapons prohibition.
The drugs and money seized by police were ordered to be forfeited at the Crown's request.
Karen Edwards, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Thunder Bay Source