Liban Mohamood Mohammed was sentenced Friday to five-and-a-half years in prison for the possession of cocaine for the purpose of trafficking and possession of property obtained by crime.
Mohammed, 29, was arrested in 2017 after he was found with 294 grams of cocaine, $52,325, a digital scale with white residue, cellphones, and other trafficking paraphernalia in a Yellowknife apartment.
In their sentencing submissions, Crown and defence lawyers disagreed on whether this was a case of commercial or wholesale trafficking.
Crown Prosecutor Brendan Green said that given the quantity of the drug, the sentence should reflect a wholesale trafficking level of operation. He suggested a sentence of six years in custody.
Defence lawyer Jake Chadi said that while Mohammed “is on the higher end of the street-level trafficking hierarchy,” it is “still street-level” and sought three-and-a-half to four years imprisonment.
Chadi argued that wholesale is not a matter of quantity, but rather of placement in the trafficking hierarchy and that there is not enough to indicate Mohammed would be on the wholesale level.
In delivering her sentence, Justice Shannon Smallwood ultimately sided with the Crown.
During Mohammed’s trial for the case, an RCMP officer said it was his opinion that Mohammed was likely to be at the head of the Yellowknife drug trafficking operation with perhaps one or two street sellers.
Smallwood referred to that testimony in her decision and said she would accept the position that this case was on the wholesale level, based on the quantity of cocaine found and the other trafficking paraphernalia.
At the time of his arrest, Mohammed was still on parole for a similar drug trafficking offence from 2015. One of the conditions of his parole was that he remain in Calgary.
In her decision, Smallwood said that there appeared to be “no legitimate reason (for Mohammed) to be in the Northwest Territories.”
She also told the court of evidence that he was sending money back to his wife in Alberta though there is no indication he had a “legitimate source of income.”
Smallwood acknowledged the “prevalence” of drug related crimes in the North.
She said that Mohammed’s actions “prey on the most vulnerable community members for profit,” and that cocaine is “destroying lives and tearing apart families.
“(Mohammed is) one of the many Southern drug dealers who come to Yellowknife because they know there is a demand and it is a lucrative enterprise,” she said. “Mr. Mohammed might want to reconsider coming back to Yellowknife in the future.”
Smallwood said that Green’s recommendation of six years is “reasonable” and that she “could easily accept it.” She said, however, that she would exercise restraint.
After applying the credit Mohammed has earned for pre-trial custody, he has a remaining 58 months to serve.
In the pre-sentence report prepared for sentencing, Mohammed said that he does not take responsibility and that he intends to appeal the decision.