Liban Mohamood Mohammed, a 29 year-old arrested in a 2017 drug bust, appeared by telephone at the NWT Supreme Court Monday for sentencing.
Mohammed, calling in from the Edmonton Young Offender Centre, was convicted of possession of cocaine for the purpose of trafficking and possession of property obtained by crime. In 2017 Mohammed was found with almost 300 grams of cocaine and more than $52,000 in cash in an apartment building in downtown Yellowknife.
Crown attorney Brendan Green is seeking six years imprisonment.
Defence lawyer Jake Chadi argues the punishment should be within the range of three-and-a-half to four years.
At the time of the arrest, Mohammed was still on parole for a similar drug trafficking offence. A factor that Green said is aggravating.
In 2015, Mohammed was arrested for the possession of 32 grams of cocaine for the purpose of trafficking and $12,000. He served 32 months.
Green said Mohammed’s reoffending demonstrates he was clearly not deterred and that a harsher sentence is therefore necessary, especially considering the “escalation” of quantity.
Green emphasized that Mohammed was considered as being at the top of drug trafficking operations in Yellowknife by a testifying RCMP officer.
In proposing a sentence for the judge’s consideration, Green pointed to previous sentences for wholesale traffickers stating that “wholesale is really about the weight in question.”
“It is clear my client is on the higher end of the street-level trafficking hierarchy,” he said, “but it still is a street-level trafficking level of operation.”
He explained that wholesale traffickers obtain large quantities from suppliers and sell them to “street level” dealers. Chadi maintained that wholesale is not a matter of quantity, but rather of placement in the trafficking hierarchy.
Both lawyers acknowledged that Yellowknifers are a population vulnerable to drug use. Denunciation and deterrence are therefore key considerations in the length of the sentence.
A pre-sentence report (PSR) advised that Mohammed, born and raised in Toronto, moved to Alberta in 2012 in search of employment in the oil and gas industry. After 12 months when his search continued to be unsuccessful, Mohammed relocated to Yellowknife to live with a relative who worked at the mines.
The PSR states that “upon release, Liban plans to resume living in the city of Edmonton, with his wife and son as well as secure full-time employment as soon as possible.”
Smallwood will hand down Mohammed’s sentence on Friday afternoon.