Former Vice Canada Music Editor Sentenced to Nine Years for Drug Smuggling

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Slava Pastuk recruited young, aspiring musicians, promoters and models he met through his job to become drug mules.

Former Vice music editor Yaroslav Pastukhov was sentenced to eight years and 252 days in prison on Tuesday, his attorney has confirmed with Billboard. The 28-year-old known in the industry as Slava Pastuk, was editor of Vice’s music-focused Noisey Canada and recruited young, aspiring musicians, promoters and models he met through his job to become drug mules. 

On Sept. 9, 2019, Pastukhov pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit the offence of unlawfully importing commercial quantity of controlled drug into Australia. Pastukhov's attorney, Dan Kirby, said he is eligible for parole after fulfilling one-third of his sentence.

Ontario Court of Justice Judge Heather Pringle deducted the 113 days from the nine-year sentence for the time Pastukhov had already spent in custody before his mother agreed to bail conditions. Since then, he had been on house arrest prior to sentencing.

Pastukhov’s downfall came after five of his drug mules botched a smuggling effort in Australia just days before Christmas of 2015.

On Dec. 22, 2015, customs officials at Sydney Airport detected 40 kilograms of cocaine inside mules’ luggage arriving from Los Angeles on American Airlines. The drugs worth an estimated 22.67 million Australian dollars ($15.4 million) had been collected by the five mules -- four Canadians and one American -- during a stop in Las Vegas. All five were tried and convicted in Australia and served sentences between three and five years. 

According to the Sydney Herald, court documents revealed the mules were badgered, manipulated and eventually relented to carrying the drugs. Although some did try to back out, but were allegedly threatened with bodily harm, including torture. The case's judge, Dina Yehia, remarked at the time, "I am very firmly of the view that these offenders were exploited by people who were ruthless, persistent and manipulative in recruiting them.”

In February 2016, Pastukhov left Vice and moved to Montreal, where lived under a new legal name of Leonid Yari Farrow. The Royal Canadian Mounted Police arrested and charged him in on Jan. 31 of this year and he pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to import cocaine into Australia. 

“I greatly regret the decisions I made and the lives I impacted,” he said in court on Oct. 31, as reported by the National Post. “I got swept up in something I didn’t fully grasp at the time, but I do now. I ruined my chance to turn into the man I’d like to have become and I’ll always be remorseful for this.”

But a private Instagram post the previous day revealed a more unrepentant side. “The education I’ve had as a result of having to rebuild from scratch was almost worth going through the scandal, and I’m ultimately better off for it,” he wrote, also referring to himself as “the most prolific and notorious music journalist Toronto will ever see.”


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