Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 3/4/2009 (3058 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
He was known to friends and associates as "Teflon Don", an ode to the fact the law couldn’t seem to touch him.
After all, there aren’t many people who can claim a yearly income of about $350 - as he did in 2007 tax records - and somehow manage to live in a million-dollar home, a million-dollar waterfront condo and own several luxury cars and motorcycles.
Yet such was the life of British Columbia resident Donald Lyons, a high-level cocaine trafficker tied to the Independent Soldiers street gang.
His carefree world came crashing down 15 months ago in an undercover Winnipeg police sting. Now he’s lost everything - his pricey properties, his possessions and his freedom.
Lyons, 36, was sentenced Friday to eight and a half years in prison under a joint recommendation from Crown and defence lawyers. He gets double-time credit for his pre-trial custody, leaving him with another six years behind bars. He also agreed to pay a $26,000 fine and forfeit $75,000 in property, including a Cadillac Escalade seized by police.
Lyons was caught on secret video and audiotape giving a kilogram of cocaine to career criminal turned secret agent Scotty "Taz" Robertson during a meeting inside a Kelowna hotel room. He was also implicated in various phone taps against other accused as being a major supplier of cocaine to Manitoba.
"Individuals like Mr. Lyons cause irreparable harm to the community," federal prosecutor Chris Mainella told court Friday. He said a message needs to be sent that Manitoba "is not a friendly place for drug traffickers."
Lyons is the 15th accused from "Project Drill" to plead guilty and be sentenced. Only three others who were arrested in December 2007 remain before the courts.
Mainella said the Independent Soldiers only began to emerge in Canada in 2004 but have grown to several hundred members in B.C. and Alberta. They are aligned with the Hells Angels, and Lyons was good friend with Kelowna Hells chapter vice-president Lester Jones, who has already admitted to his role in Project Drill.
"They look after me, I look after them," Jones was overheard on a phone tap telling an associate about his relationship with Lyons and the Independent Soldiers.
Police lured Lyons and Jones into a trap by having the agent come to them on the guise the cocaine currently being supplied to Manitoba dealers was of poor quality. Jones bragged that he could easily fix that, bragging that B.C. cocaine was "(expletive) mint", court was told.
However, Jones arranged one shipment to the agent in which the drugs were only about 14 per cent pure. Police had the agent fly to B.C. to confront Jones about the extreme diluting. Jones promised to take care of the problem, and got Lyons to meet with the agent and provide a new kilogram which was 97 per cent pure, court was told.
Defence lawyer Josh Weinstein said his client isn’t a lost cause and has many redeeming qualities, including a three-year-old stepson he loves dearly.
"I’m sorry to everyone for my crime and everyone it’s affected. I’m aware of all the people I’ve let down. I’m thankful to get a second chance," Lyons said in a brief statement to the court Friday.
Queen’s Bench Justice John Scurfield said it’s clear Lyons had a "trusted" role within organized crime and was able to live a "lavish life" thanks to drug profits.
Lyons has not put all his legal troubles behind him. He’s still facing weapons charges in B.C. after police found 19 guns, a grenade and two Tasers hidden in a safe under a staircase during a search of his $1.2 million Kelowna rental home. Lyons was actually arrested by police at his other property - a condo in Vancouver which Mainella told court cost "seven figures."