Canadian roasted by Australian judge before landing 18-year sentence

‘You give a pretty imitation of someone almost licking their lips looking at the crystals in the bag in front of you,’ judge tells Alexandre Forcade

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A Canadian man was sentenced in Australia to 18 and a half years in prison for trying to smuggle $15 million worth of crystal meth, while his Australian co-accused was found not guilty and released.

Alexandre Francoise Gerard Forcade, 29, who grew up in Kelowna, B.C., and worked in Grande Prairie, Alta., before moving to Malaysia for university, was arrested in 2020 in a suburb of Melbourne, one of Australia’s largest cities, after 154 kilograms of methamphetamine was found hidden inside a huge shipment of silver concentrate sent from Mexico.

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His stiff sentence came despite a guilty plea.

Forcade was roasted by the judge at his sentencing, who said the Canadian told a “cock and bull story” to try to cover up his crime. The judge called him “a complete liar” whose excuses were “absurd” and “empty nonsense,” according to Australian news accounts of his trial.

At the time of Forcade’s arrest the Australian Federal Police, a national agency similar to the RCMP, said the investigation succeeded in “dismantling and disrupting the work of an organized crime syndicate.”

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Forcade attended Okanagan Mission Secondary School in Kelowna and worked at a Dairy Queen, Sport Chek and as a landscaper there from 2010 to 2014.

He moved to Grande Prairie to work in the oil and gas industry before relocating to Malaysia for university, according to his LinkedIn profile. He is a dual citizen of Canada and France.

It was while in Malaysia that he seemed to edget involved in the unwieldy plot to move a huge shipment from Mexico, one of the reddest of red flag source countries for illicit drugs, to Australia, one of the hottest drug-seeking markets.

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Court heard he was paid $40,000 by an international drug syndicate to help in the smuggling enterprise.

The shipping container arrived in Melbourne in January 2020 and was X-rayed by Australian Border Force officers. Images revealed block structures inside the declared contents of 19 tonnes of silver concentrate. Silver concentrate is a dry powder of almost pure silver. It is a popular way to transport silver because it reduces its weight and volume.

Police replaced the meth with an inert substance and allowed the shipment to continue its journey. Police linked Forcade to the shipment’s movement. Investigators searched both a storage unit and the motel where he was staying and recovered the silver concentrate and the fake drugs, along with cell phones and drug paraphernalia.

He was arrested along with a Sydney man by an organized crime task force.

Forcade at first told police he was just a tourist who came to Australia to celebrate his birthday. That was derided by Judge Michael Tinney of the County Court of Victoria as “absurd” because he knew no one in the country.

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He later said he was approached in a bar in Kuala Lampur, Malaysia’s capital, to handle a legitimate transaction. He said he used to have text messages that proved he was duped into handling drugs but had deleted them.

He admitted to cocaine and ketamine use but said he had tried meth only once, a contention the judge also disbelieved.

“You give a pretty imitation of someone almost licking their lips looking at the crystals in the bag in front of you,” the judge said in court.

154 kilograms of crystal meth was hidden inside a huge shipment of powdered silver concentrate and sent from Mexico to Australia.
154 kilograms of crystal meth was hidden inside a huge shipment of powdered silver concentrate and sent from Mexico to Australia. Photo by Australian Federal Police

Forcade was sentenced last year, but the investigation’s legal proceedings did not end until last week when the second man, an Australian who was accused of attempted possession of the meth, was found not guilty. Authorities released details on Forcade’s sentencing at the conclusion of both trials.

Forcade faced a maximum of life imprisonment. He had been in jail for more than a year by the time he was sentenced. He must serve 13 years and six months before being eligible for parole.

He will be deported after his release from prison.

“The illicit drug supply chain is littered with violence and had this amount of methamphetamine made its way to Australian streets, it could have spread through our suburbs fueling more violence, crime and drug addiction,” said AFP Detective Superintendent Jason McArthur.

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Canada and Canadians have been linked to many of Australia’s major illicit drug seizures recently.

In August, nearly $50 million worth of meth was found inside a hidden compartment in a charmless chipboard cabinet sent from Canada to Sydney. In May, a Canadian was sentenced to 11 years in prison in Australia after large quantities of meth were found in commercial dough mixers being shipped from Toronto to both Melbourne and Sydney.

Last summer, Australian authorities announced the country’s largest known fentanyl shipment arrived from Canada hidden in an industrial lathe shipped from Vancouver. Large loads of cocaine and meth, worth an estimated $135 million, were also found hidden inside a vintage Bentley luxury sedan sent in a shipping container from Canada to Sydney.

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