NANAIMO — Five years in prison was issued to a man who pleaded guilty to three drugs and weapons charges following a raid at a downtown Nanaimo condo tower.
The sentence against Luis Baez, 21, of Surrey, was issued by BC Supreme Court Justice Robert Johnston after a joint submission by Crown Counsel and the defence Tuesday afternoon.
Court heard Baez was caught up in a drug raid in which a group of other men were in fact the target on the 25th floor of The Beacon on Promenade Dr. on November, 2, 2016.
Baez ditched a loaded handgun on a stairwell, while cocaine and heroin were found in his gym bag during a search by Nanaimo RCMP and Vancouver Island Emergency Response Team members.
Crown prosecutor Carmen Choi said Baez was arrested on the seawall near the condo tower and linked to 3.25 grams of cocaine, 1.6 grams of heroin, and 100 tablets of heroin mixed with another substance.
Choi said the loaded gun posed a serious public danger.
“Although the drugs in the case were not of a significant amount, the toxic mix of the loaded handgun and the drugs is what the Crown is emphasizing,” Choi said.
Baez's lawyer, Tony Lagemaat, told court his client was living a low-key life at home with his mother, stepfather and younger brother. He said Baez worked off and on for several years for his stepfather in the concrete industry.
Lagemaat said Baez was an accomplished soccer player and was drafted by the Vancouver Whitecaps.
He said his client didn't get into trouble until his biological father, a career drug trafficker, appeared after being absent most of his life.
Lagemaat said while Baez became involved with dealing drugs, he was not battling an addiction like many others in his position.
“But he was battling something else and that was the influence of his father who came back into his life, and he always wanted him in his life and unfortunately this is where he ended up.”
Lagemaat told Court Baez made it clear he wants nothing to do with his father moving forward and wants to remove himself from crime.
While awaiting sentencing in Victoria, Baez completed high school and a violence prevention program.
Lagemaat said Baez is incredibly ashamed of his actions and expressed his apologies to his family and the people of Nanaimo.
Justice Johnston said rehabilitation is a very real prospect for Baez, however, stated the dangers guns pose in society can't be overlooked.
“There are almost daily news reports of the horrors that follow upon the use of weapons, handguns in particular, not only on the Lower Mainland but here now on Vancouver Island,” Johnston said.
Baez will spend a little more than two years and seven months in a federal prison after being credited for time already served behind bars.
Baez was also slapped with a lifetime weapons ban and faces a future forfeiture order to recoup his proceeds of crime.
Choi said Baez was convicted of five separate drug charges for a pair of incidents earlier in 2016.
Two other Surrey men have been sentenced and jailed in connection to the November 2016 drug raid at The Beacon, Choi said, while a third man will learn his fate in October.
On Twitter: @reporterholmes
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