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Drug kingpin gets nine years

A handcuffed Todd Dube exits a prisoner transfer van at the Yellowknife Courthouse on Wednesday. Dube was sentenced to ___ years in jail after he pleaded guilty to conspiracy to traffic in cocaine, fentanyl and MDMA and conspiracy to counsel someone to commit aggravated assault. Dube was the admitted kingpin of a sophisticated drug ring in the city. John McFadden/NNSL photo

A Yellowknife man has been sentenced to nine years in jail after he pleaded guilty to being what the prosecutor described as the kingpin of a sophisticated illegal drug ring in the city.

Todd Dube, 22, also pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit aggravated assault and possession of proceeds of crime which included cash and diamonds.

Dube was handed his sentence by judge Shannon Smallwood in Supreme Court yesterday following a dramatic sentencing hearing on Wednesday.

She told the court that cocaine ruins lives and fentanyl sometimes ends them, adding Dube's moral blame worthiness was high. Smallwood gave Dube 1.5 days credit for each day spent in pre-trial custody, meaning Dube will have about six years and eight months left to serve. He has been in jail since his arrest in April 2016.

During the sentencing hearing, 41 incriminating phone calls involving Dube were played in court and text messages were read out by prosecutors.

Crown prosecutor Annie Piche referred to Dube the boss of the organization and called for a sentence of eight to 10 years in jail, noting that Dube coordinated the shipments of illicit drugs to Yellowknife, arranged storage of them and oversaw several street level dealers. His phone was wiretapped by RCMP between February and April of 2016. He has been in custody since his arrest as part of the Mounties' anti-drug initiative known as Project Green Manalishi. Dube was out on bail for less serious drug charges at the time of his arrest.

Court heard that Dube oversaw a dial-a-dope operation that was up and running and was moving up to two ounces of cocaine a day. Indeed, in one of the intercepted phone calls Dube can be heard boasting to an associate that they were selling six to eight units (kilograms) of cocaine in Yellowknife every month.

According to an agreed statement of facts, some of those working under Dube used Jerrie's Delivery Service to make their cocaine sales as well as enlisting the help of local taxi drivers.

According to Sgt. Dean Riou of the RCMP's Federal Investigation Unit, ownership of that delivery service was transferred to Dube from Norman Hache who was sentenced to five years in jail earlier this year on drug trafficking charges. Riou said the two were in the drug business together at one time but eventually severed the relationship and became rival drug dealers.

As part of the drug sweep, police seized tens of thousands of dollars worth of cocaine, fentanyl and MDMA along with more than $50,000 in cash, firearms and drug paraphernalia from residences in Yellowknife, Ndilo and Dettah.

In one of the intercepted phone calls Dube can be heard counselling the other man on the line to commit assault.

“I'll give you five grand to put him in the hospital. Put him in a coma,” Dube said. Court heard that Dube believed the person he wanted assaulted was a confidential informant for RCMP. That person was living in Edmonton at the time. Edmonton police went to his residence to arrest him on outstanding warrants and warned him his life was in danger but court heard the man told police he did not need their protection.

In other intercepted calls, Dube can be heard arguing with others over money and drugs and who in fact was running the operation – Dube making it clear that he was the boss. In yet another call, Dube can be heard discussing how to use women for prostitution, claiming they could make up to $800 an hour. He has not been charged with any prostituted related offences.

In making her case Piche pointed out that Dube was dealing in large amounts of both cocaine and fentanyl for a single reason.

“All of Mr. Dube's activities were motivated by greed. He has seen addiction in his own family yet he chose to exploit the addictions of others for his own benefit,” Piche said. “He exploited the most vulnerable members of our society.”

Dube's Vancouver-based lawyer David Baker told Smallwood that a sentence of between six and seven years would be more appropriate. He told the court that Dube grew up in Welland, Ontario in Niagara Region where he was raised by his mother – a police officer. He also said Dube moved to Yellowknife at 18 and pointed to his young age as a reason to spare him a longer sentence.

“He was only a teenager when he started this enterprise. He was kicked out of the house at age 15 after problems at school and he has been fending for himself ever since.”

Baker said the chest thumping heard on the phone calls is just the way Dube talks, having had to stand up for himself for many years.

Dube, looking scholarly with a brush cut, thick beard, glasses, black dress shirt and slacks, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to traffic in cocaine, fentanyl, MDMA and heroin.

Dube addressed Smallwood at the end of the sentencing hearing – reading from a prepared note.

“I know what I have done was wrong. I know I have hurt people. People may have died because of my actions,” Dube said. “I want to live an honest life and steer clear of drugs and drug dealing. I'm thankful that I am young enough that I can still make something of my life.”

Dube kissed his girlfriend who was sitting behind him in the public gallery, before being led from the court by RCMP.

Baker said he was considering appealing the sentence.

“I'm disappointed. Nine years is too long for such a young man,” he said outside court following the sentencing.