April 20, 2011
The B.C. Lions released a very vague and terse statement Wednesday afternoon saying that running back Yonus Davis had been "detained" in California, the club was aware of the incident and would be investigating. That left plenty of CFL observers sitting around and waiting for the other shoe to drop, as there was very little information anywhere on anything Davis had been involved with. The Vancouver Sun's excellent Lions' reporter, Mike Beamish, somehow managed to track down the details, though, and Sun sports editor Scott Brown tweeted them this evening. They're pretty staggering.
According to Brown, Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) agents say Davis (seen above returning a punt against Saskatchewan last Halloween) was in possession of 67 pounds of ecstasy. That adds up to around 40,000 tablets, so this is not some minor recreational drug usage. Brown added that Davis could face up to a $1 million fine and/or 20 years in prison, which fits under the DEA's penalties for a first-time offender found guilty of trafficking "other Schedule I & II drugs." The Sun's story was posted shortly afterwards, and contains the information that Davis has been charged with possession with intent to distribute. Here's the part of the story on what reportedly happened:
According to court documents obtained by The Sun, Davis was detained by DEA agents on April 9 after the suspect parcel was delivered to the address of Jane Davis, in Milpitas, Calif. Yonus Davis told DEA agents that he lived at the same address.
Agents also observed another man, identified as "Robert Jordon", fleeing from the scene. It is not known whether the individual named "Jordon" is Robert Jordan, another Lions rookie last season who lost his starting job as the team's main kick returner to Davis. "Jordon" was taken to the Milpitas police station and booked on state charges of evasion and delaying an investigation.
In a statement, Davis acknowledged that he was expecting a Federal Express parcel containing 40 "boats" of ecstasy. One "boat" is street slang for approximately 1,000 tablets. Davis said the ecstasy shipment of April 9 was the second he had received from a Haitian male, identified as "Red", an individual Davis had met before in downtown Seattle.
A DEA search of Davis's BMW 745i also found a large amount of U.S. currency in the amount of $7,000.
That certainly doesn't sound good for Davis at all. If that statement is accurate, acknowledging that he was expecting a delivery of 40,000 tablets of ecstasy (and that it wasn't the first one) would seem to indicate that he's preparing to plead guilty (if he isn't, he would have appeared to submarine most of his potential defence tactics). Of course, there's a long legal process that still needs to run its course, and it's possible that Davis wasn't the intended recipient of this shipment (or was only very minorly involved), but that statement would seem to suggest the opposite.
The question now is what will the Lions do? Wally Buono has long been willing to give players second chances, but he has his limits (as proved in the case of Josh Boden, who the Lions released despite assault and robbery charges against him being dropped; Boden signed with Hamilton, got cut, and was recently on trial for several charges of sexual assault). However, Boden was a minimal contributor to the team, while Davis was one of their up-and-coming stars last year; he'd be a far greater loss, especially considering Andrew Harris's recent injury, Jamall Lee's knee reconstruction and Jerome Messam's (less-severe) legal issues. With Davis and Jamal Robertson, the Lions' running game looked to be one of the potential strengths of the team even considering those injury issues. If Davis is dropped, their running and kick-return game could still be good, but it would be much harder to count on that.
This is still very early in the legal process, although it's already 11 days after the reported incident, so we may not see a decision for a while. The Lions would seem unlikely to instantly axe Davis right now, especially considering that their statement said he remains a member of the team for the moment. If what's come out so far is true, though, it's going to be very interesting to see what decision they make. Davis could be a key component of their team, but what he's accused of here is very serious, and dealing drugs is something the CFL as a whole and the Lions in particular have taken strong stances against in the past. This is a league that promotes itself on community connections and providing role models for young people, and while it hasn't always employed the most outstanding characters (Trevis Smith and Adam Braidwood come to mind), few have lasted too long after getting in serious trouble. (Braidwood is still listed as a member of the Eskimos right now, but I'm not sure he'll make it to the season; they may just be waiting for the court case to run its course.) It's worth noting that there are significant issues with crossing the border if you have a criminal record, too, and that wouldn't make it all that easy for the Lions to continue to employ Davis if he is convicted.
In the end, the Lions' decision will likely depend on the evidence against Davis, his account of the story and if there are any extenuating circumstances. They shouldn't move rashly; legal cases take time to develop, and they still have plenty of time before training camp starts. Still, the information out there at the moment certainly doesn't look promising for Davis. Unless more comes out that makes this situation look a little better, it seems highly likely that we've seen the last of him in the Lions' orange and black.