Toronto DJ hired as drug mule by Vice Editor gets prison time
A popular Toronto music producer has been sentenced to prison for his role in a cocaine-smuggling trip allegedly arranged by former Vice Canada music editor Yaroslav Pastukhov.
Jordan Garner, 27, was arrested with three other Canadians and one American in December of 2015, when approximately $6 million worth of cocaine was found hidden in their bags at Sydney Airport.
The four men and one woman, all in their 20s, had been awaiting sentencing in an Australian jail ever since, until this morning when a judge handed down prison terms ranging from three years and four months to seven years and six months.
Gardner, who makes up one half of the Toronto-based EDM duo Ebony, received the heaviest sentence alongside travel companion Kutiba Senusi, 24.
Both young men were sentenced to seven and a half months in jail with a non-parole period of four years and four months, according to the Sydney Morning Herald.
The two other men received slightly lesser sentences, and 20-year-old Porscha Wade has yet to be sentenced.
In her ruling, Australia District Court Judge Dina Yehia said she was "firmly of the view that these offenders were exploited by people who were ruthless, persistent and manipulative in recruiting them."
One of those people is thought to be Pastukhov, who used to work for Vice under the name Slava Pastuk.
Gardner's lawyer alleges that Pastukhov had badgered Gardner into the smuggling trip while working at Vice, and that when Gardner tried to back out, Pastukhov threatened the lives of his family members and girlfriend.
Sensui also told court during the hearing that, when he tried to back out of the trip, he was told his safety couldn't be guaranteed and that razor blades had been placed beneath the fingernails of others in his situation.
Both Gardner and Senusi will be eligible for parole in April of 2020, but that's not nearly soon enough for the former's friends and supporters, who've been campaigning for his release February.
In the wake of today's ruling, supporters are once again placing blame on Pastukhov – who was called out in a National Post article earlier this year for trying to recruit three other employees at Vice's Toronto office to be drug mules.
"When a music editor turns roommates and aspiring musicians into drug mules," wrote one person on Twitter.
"How a white vice editor got a bunch of young poc thrown in jail," commented another.
Pastukhov has not been charged at this point, though police in Canada reportedly confirmed at the Australian hearing that the Toronto end of the smuggling ring is under investigation.
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