3.5 year sentence sought for Ndilo drug trafficker

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The Crown is seeking a three-and-a-half-year sentence for a 58-year-old Ndilo woman convicted of trafficking cocaine and other drugs.

Mary Anne Lafferty was found guilty of eight drug trafficking and possession charges following a jury trial in September.

Her mother, 79-year-old Vitaline Lafferty, faced the same drug offences during the weeks-long trial, but was acquitted of all charges.

The two women were arrested after being pulled over by Mounties near Fort Providence on March 18, 2016.

The traffic stop, masked as a random checkstop, was part of a large-scale RCMP investigation into high-level drug trafficking in the territory and its capital.

Inside Vitaline’s vehicle, police seized 1.7 kilograms of cocaine, 5.8 kilograms of marijuana, 11 bottles of liquid codeine and 85 grams of MDMA.

Mary Anne Lafferty denied knowing she was on her way to pick up the haul of drugs, and testified at trial she believed she was participating in a legitimate pickup for her daughter’s employer, Jerrie’s Delivery Service.

She testified her daughter, Katrina Stiopu, asked her to make the trip – to Indian Cabins near the NWT/Alberta border – on her behalf.

Stiopu received a four-and-a-half-year prison sentence in January after being convicted of stashing drugs for Todd Dube.

Dube, who used the delivery service to peddle powerful narcotics including fentanyl and cocaine as the leader of a Yellowknife-based drug ring, is currently serving a nine-year prison sentence.

Jurors heard over 60 intercepted phone calls and text messages, many of which included conversations between Dube and Mary Anne Lafferty.

Lafferty knew “from the get-go” that she was going to pick up the drugs, and understood they’d be trafficked or sold in Yellowknife once provided to her daughter or others, said Crown prosecutor Duane Praught Friday.

She may not have not known the specific kind or quantity of drugs she’d be picking up, Praught said, but she knew she was picking up drugs.

Lafferty’s lawyer Thomas Boyd called the intercepted communications “fairly innocuous,” and said they aren’t indicative of his client’s knowledge about of the wholesale trafficking of cocaine.

The starting point for the wholesale trafficking of cocaine is four-and-a-half years, but the Crown is calling for a year less due to Lafferty’s unique circumstances as an Indigenous offender.

In a call for a-two-and-a-half-year sentence, Boyd asked the court to consider his client’s tumultuous upbringing, one that was marked by abuse in the residential school system, domestic violence and addiction.

Boyd described Lafferty as a “pinch hitter,” saying she was a last-minute replacement for Stiopu.

He alluded to a letter submitted to the court by Stiopu in which she apologizes to her mother, prompting Lafferty to break down in tears, burying her face in her hands as she sobbed.

Justice Shannon Smallwood is expected to sentence Lafferty Thursday.