Woman pleads guilty to trafficking cocaine in Hay River

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A 25-year-old woman arrested in 2017 after Mounties infiltrated a Hay River slo-pitch tournament has pleaded guilty to trafficking cocaine.

Starr Martel appeared before NWT Supreme Court Justice Andrew Mahar in a Yellowknife courtroom Tuesday. She re-elected to be tried by a judge alone, and entered a guilty plea to the lone trafficking charge.

Martel was one of 11 people arrested in Project Grand Slam, a joint-drug enforcement operation launched by RCMP G Division’s federal investigation unit and Hay River RCMP.

Mounties coincided the clandestine crackdown with Coors Mixed Slo-Pitch Tournament, with some undercover officers even suiting up and playing in the tournament. The operation saw RCMP members conduct search warrants at five Hay River homes, and netted cocaine, morphine, GHB, codeine, and cash.

By pleading guilty on Tuesday, Martel accepted the facts of the case agreed to by both her lawyer, Leslie Moore, and Crown prosecutor Duane Praught.

After midnight on Aug. 6, 2016, the court heard, an undercover Mountie was introduced to Martel through a mutual acquaintance during a dance at the Hay River legion.

The officer asked Starr if she could get him a gram of cocaine. According to the agreed statement of factors read in court, Martel said she could, and returned with 0.5 grams of cocaine. The Mountie gave her $80 in exchange.

Martel was arrested on Aug. 8 after RCMP searched her home and located over 40 grams of marijuana.

She was released on a recognizance shortly after.

Mahar, who ordered a pre-sentence report, is expected to sentence Martel for the single hand-to-hand transaction on Feb. 26, 2019.

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Brendan Burke
As the Yellowknifer’s crime reporter, it’s my job to keep readers up to speed on all-things “cops and courts” related. From house fires and homicides to courtroom clashes, it’s my responsibility to be there - day or night, rain or shine. When I’m not at court gathering stories, I’m in the office, making calls to lawyers, emailing RCMP and tracking down sources. After hours, I rely on the public to let me know what’s happening and where. Entering my second winter in Yellowknife since leaving my hometown of Peterborough, Ont., in October 2017, everyday on this beat continues to be challenging, rewarding and fulfilling. Got a story? Call me at (867) 766-8288 or shoot me an email at editorial@nnsl.com.