Disgraced Winnipeg property developer loses appeal of cocaine trafficking conviction

The Manitoba Court of Appeal has dismissed former Winnipeg property developer Jared Devloo’s appeal of his conviction and 10-year sentence for cocaine trafficking.

Devloo, 40, was convicted of drug trafficking and conspiracy to traffic cocaine in October 2017, and is currently serving his 10-year prison sentence. He was one of about a dozen people arrested in 2014 following a year long investigation by the RCMP and Winnipeg Police Service called Project Distress.

During his initial trial, court heard the joint police task force used a civilian agent to target high-level drug dealers. That agent had been involved in criminal activity and entrenched in organized crime circles for more than 20 years before working with police on Project Distress.

The Crown said Devloo sold cocaine to the agent by putting him in touch with Jason Ong, who was Devloo’s co-accused at trial and was also later convicted of trafficking drugs.

At trial, the Crown said the two men were part of a sophisticated operation that moved kilograms of cocaine with couriers and used counter-surveillance techniques to avoid getting caught.

Devloo was the owner of Jerway Holdings Ltd., a property development company that built a number of homes in Winnipeg, Including this condominium complex in St Norbert. (CBC)

Devloo was a successful property developer and owner of Jerway Holdings Ltd. — a company that built a number of homes across the city, including a 30-unit condo development in St. Norbert.

He was also one of the pallbearers for Franco “Frank” Nucci, a high-level cocaine dealer with ties to organized crime who was shot to death in Montreal in 2005.

In his appeal, Devloo argued the trial judge made a number of mistakes, including her assessment of the civilian agent’s credibility. Devloo argued some of the audio in recorded conversations between him and the agent was inaudible.

The agent also testified in court about a 2014 meeting between the two in a steam room that could not be recorded.

“The accused argues that, based on the agent’s unsavoury character, independent evidence was required to confirm his testimony,” the appeal court’s decision said.

But in its decision, which was delivered on Tuesday, the appeal court agreed with the trial judge that the investigation “was directed, controlled and [the agent’s] activities surveilled by a police cover team at all times.”

The Court of Appeal found that inconsistencies in the agent’s testimony noted in Devloo’s appeal were minor.

“I agree with the Crown that there were many areas where his testimony was independently confirmed and the trial judge was capable of making this observation without listing every consistency,” Justice Diana Cameron wrote in the unanimous decision.

“Likewise, she did not have to address every inconsistency asserted by the accused. Her decision regarding the credibility of the agent is supported by the record.”

Sentencing appeal rejected

Devloo also appealed his 10-year sentence, but the appeal court rejected his argument that he was not a high-level drug dealer.

At trial, the judge found that Devloo was effectively in charge of three drug transactions that led to the sale of four kilograms of cocaine, for which undercover officers paid a total of $212,000.

Devloo argued that the Crown didn’t prove that he received the entire amount, and that based on conversations intercepted by police, the most he would have received would have been $1,000 per kilogram.

But the Court of Appeal rejected that argument too.

At sentencing, Devloo was ordered to repay the money within five years of his release from prison or face an additional three years behind bars.

His sentence ends in 2028, but he can apply for parole before that.