A Winnipeg man has been convicted of drug trafficking after selling cannabis to undercover police officers in 2016, but is still awaiting trial for allegedly importing fentanyl from China.
Ray Alder John Csincsa, 54, pleaded guilty Tuesday morning to four counts of drug trafficking between Feb. 25 and April 6, 2016.
The marijuana activist openly smoked pot on social media and even advertised his Winnipeg cannabis delivery service on Facebook. According to court documents, Winnipeg police started investigating him in 2015 after receiving a tip someone was distributing flyers advertising the sale and delivery of marijuana.
Csincsa was arrested in front of the Curtis Gordon Hotel on Henderson Highway on April 6, 2016, after an undercover officer purchased half an ounce of marijuana for $110 in cash. It was the fourth time an undercover officer had bought pot from the accused in a matter of months, according to court documents.
Officers seized $1,120 in cash and a key to a room in the hotel he had been renting where they discovered more than 136 grams of marijuana, packaging material and a scale.
"This is a situation where Mr. Csincsa was a marijuana advocate and when he heard the Canadian government was thinking of legalization, or considering it, that's when this sort of began," Csincsa's lawyer Scott Wilson told the court Tuesday morning. "Not the smartest move if I could put it that way and ultimately he is pleading guilty."
The court heard Csincsa is originally from Vancouver and is divorced with two kids and does not have prior drug convictions. He has an architectural design diploma from Vancouver Community College but has been living in Winnipeg on social assistance for some time.
"He did sell it but he obviously also didn't hide it," said federal crown attorney Raegan Rankin, who agreed to a joint recommendation sentence of eight months. "I think perhaps given the tenor of the way that cannabis marijuana is being treated that people just sort of got a jump on what ultimately may or may not happen when the legislation comes down and Mr. Csincsa is obviously one of these people."
Csincsa has already spent five and a half months in jail and would have been released from custody but remains locked up for an unrelated charge of importing a controlled substance, for allegedly receiving a shipment of fentanyl from China. Last week he applied for bail in that case and was denied.
Cash seized as proceeds of crime
Details of the two police investigations are outlined in a Jan. 25 statement of claim filed by Manitoba's Director of Criminal Property and Forfeiture as part of a motion to seize money belonging to the accused considered to be the proceeds of crime.
The court document said in July 2016 Canadian Border Services officers in Vancouver intercepted a suspicious package addressed to a "Thomas Greene" at a home on Church Avenue in Winnipeg. The sender was identified as "Marry" in Shang Hai Yan Bing, Shanghai, China. Tests confirmed the package contained 9.258 grams of fentanyl, with an estimated street value of $14,800.
According to the statement of claim, CBSA officers had intercepted a similar package by the same sender in May 2016 that also contained fentanyl.
"Officers believed that the defendant was using the name Thomas Greene as an alias for the purpose of receiving shipments of fentanyl from China and that the defendant was the intended recipient of the package, as well as the package that had been previously intercepted by the CBSA on May 31, 2016," said the statement of claim.
Csincsa was arrested and charged on July 29, 2016, after he identified himself as Thomas Greene to an undercover RCMP officer who was acting as a delivery person.
Officers searched the accused's home and found additional quantities of fentanyl, marijuana and Valium, and seized $4,780 in cash.
Csincsa's next court appearance in that case is scheduled for Aug. 2.