It was seven years ago that police labelled him a “big-box retailer” in the drug world and one of Surrey’s most wanted criminals.
Now, Malakias Swales is behind bars, handed a 15-year prison sentence for a multitude of drug and weapons charges.
In July 2006, Surrey RCMP seized a pile of cocaine, crystal meth and ecstasy, as well as $260,000 cash and a stash of guns from Swales’ apartment and vehicle. The estimated street value of the drugs was more than $2 million.
Swales, then 35 years old and well-known to police, wasn’t captured until June 2007, when he turned himself in.
In May 2012, B.C. Provincial Court Judge Peder Gulbransen convicted him of trafficking in four kilograms of cocaine, failing to stop when he was being pursued by police, possession of 19 kgs of coke, 108 grams of crack, 1,956 grams of meth and 2,394 ecstasy pills for the purpose of trafficking, 19 counts related to possessing restricted or prohibited firearms and one count of possessing eight silencers – intended to muffle the sound of guns.
And last month, Gulbransen sentenced Swales to 15 years of prison for the long list of offences. In his sentencing decision, the judge spoke about the need to deter and denounce drug trafficking.
“Cocaine is a particularly destructive drug. Those of us who sit in provincial court see the effects of cocaine addiction on a daily basis,” said Gulbransen. “Addicts often have to steal to get money to support their habit. They often lose their families and their own personal health. Methamphetamine is equally destructive.”
He noted drug trafficking was harmful to society in other ways as well, including creating an underground economy, “untaxed and unregulated,” and that those in the business don’t pay taxes, thereby making no contributions to roads, schools, hospitals or other essential services.
“The culture of large-scale drug traffickers is essentially outside the law. Rules are enforced by violence or killing,” Gulbransen said. “Firearms are an essential part of this culture. Inevitably, innocent persons are endangered and sometimes victimized as they end up in the ‘crossfire’ of the violence of the drug world.”
According to court documents, Swales, now 42 years old, suffered two serious strokes in August 2011, causing loss of speech, vision loss, paralysis and numbness and diaphoresis (profuse sweating). He suffered further strokes in hospital and has been in intensive therapy since. He requires help performing many day-to-day tasks, and it’s unlikely he will ever be able to work.
“It appears that his condition has improved slightly,” reads the court background, “but it is clear that the strokes resulted in both life altering and life threatening conditions.”