Yellowknife

Alberta cocaine dealer who preyed on NWT residents is sentenced

Last modified: October 3, 2020 at 9:49am


An Alberta cocaine trafficker busted twice in the NWT “might want to reconsider coming back to the Northwest Territories,” a Supreme Court judge said on Friday afternoon.

In sending Liban Mohamood Mohammed, of Calgary, to prison for a total of five and a half years, Justice Shannon Smallwood noted police considered him to be the head of a local drug operation.

“He is one of the many southern drug dealers who come to Yellowknife to sell drugs because they know there is the demand and it is a lucrative enterprise,” Smallwood said.

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“Fortunately, he has also been caught twice and has had to bear the consequences of his actions.”

The judge appeared unperturbed by Mohammed’s stated intention to appeal.

“In the pre-sentence report, Mr Mohammed did not take responsibility for the offence and indicated he intends to appeal his convictions,” she said.

“That is his right to pursue an appeal; I wish him luck. Remorse and acceptance of responsibility can be mitigating factors in sentencing and they are not present in this case.

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“In terms of mitigating factors, there is nothing mitigating.”

Mohammed, now 29 and married, moved to Yellowknife in 2013 to get a job. He moved back to Alberta, courtesy of a parole order, in 2015 after pleading guilty and being convicted of trafficking “at more than the commercial scale” – 55.2 grams of crack cocaine and $12,102 in proceeds obtained by crime.

In 2017, a safe in a bedroom at Yellowknife’s Executive Apartments –connected to Mohammed – was found to contain 294.5 grams of cocaine and cash proceeds of crime totalling $52,325.

At trial last year, an RCMP expert testified Mohammed would likely have a couple of street-level dealers working for him, while he would also sell to people. Smallwood ruled this was a “wholesale level,” meaning he could be sentenced at a higher starting point.

“This tells me Mr Mohammed only escalated his criminal behaviour following his previous conviction,” said the judge, noting he was illegally in Yellowknife on parole when busted in 2017. 

“Cocaine continues to be a problem, destroying lives and tearing apart families, its ripple effect spreading throughout the community. [Dealers come here] to profit off the additions of others. They prey on the most vulnerable members of society for profit.”

Seven arrested in sweep

In addition to the sentence for trafficking, Mohammed was sentenced to two years concurrently for possession of property obtained by crime. He will have a firearms prohibition for 10 years after release. A DNA sample will be taken for the national databank.

Evidence seized during the raid will be held for a future legal proceeding for the final person arrested in the same operation.

With his remand credit of eight months, Mohammed has four years and 10 months left to be served.

His defence sought a sentence of total sentence of three and a half to four years, less credit for the remand time.

In the summer of 2017, Mohammed was spotted in the city by RCMP as they were carrying out another drug investigation. Police then set up surveillance on the Executive Apartments building.

A major drug sweep followed and resulted in the arrest of seven people – five suspected of moving to Yellowknife to sell drugs.

During a raid on the Executive Apartments on September 8, 2017, police used a battering ram on the apartment door, finding Mohammed inside. He initially gave a false name. 

Police gained entry to an upstairs bedroom by kicking in the door. Inside were two safes, the cocaine and the cash, plus small baggies, digital scales, and several cellphones – one with text messages about drug deals.

In February, Mohammed was convicted while Gary James Gattie, 52, of Yellowknife, walked free.

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