B.C. man convicted of trafficking cocaine in Yellowknife

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A Burnaby, B.C. man has been convicted of possessing cocaine for the purpose of trafficking and possessing marijuana, but will remain free until he is sentenced next month.

Hassen Abdul Kerim Mohamed was arrested in a raid on a Yellowknife house on April 15, 2015.

It was obvious to police who entered the Finlayson Drive townhouse that it was being used as headquarters for a drug trafficking operation — there was cocaine, marijuana, scales and large amounts of cash out in the open in the living room, with some of the cocaine packaged in small amounts typically sold on the streets.

Mohamed, now 50 years old, was in an upstairs bathroom as police broke open the back door. After handcuffing him, they found a small bag of individually wrapped “street grams” of crack and powdered cocaine on the floor between his legs.

The townhouse was leased to William Nelson Castro, a convicted cocaine dealer and the target of the raid. Castro jumped out of a second-floor bedroom window, but was arrested.

Castro pleaded guilty to possessing cocaine, fentanyl, marijuana for the purpose of trafficking and possessing the proceeds of crime and was sentenced to six years in prison.

Out on bail

Mohamed was not in the courtroom as the verdict was delivered. He listened by telephone from Burnaby as he has been out on bail since shortly after his arrest.

Following the verdict, Crown prosecutor Dwayne Praught asked that Mohamed be immediately jailed until his sentencing, which is scheduled for Nov. 14.

“We would oppose him being incarcerated at this point,” said Mohamed’s lawyer, Jennifer Cunningham. “Yes, he’s been convicted, but we can’t assume he’s not going to appear in court for sentencing.”

“Given his convictions, the risk of non-attendance goes up,” said Praught, who noted the starting point for sentences for trafficking cocaine is three years in prison.

Justice Shannon Smallwood allowed Mohamed to remain out on bail, but required him to report to police in Burnaby twice a week instead of once, and ordered him to turn himself in to police a week before sentencing.

Acquitted of most serious charge

Mohamed was facing the same charges as Castro, but was acquitted of possessing the proceeds of crime and possessing fentanyl for the purpose of trafficking.

Smallwood found that, although police found $1,000 in cash in a shoe with his passport in the guest room Mohamed occupied, it could have been travel money he brought from B.C. when he arrived a week before the raid.

Smallwood acquitted Mohamed of the fentanyl trafficking charge — the most serious charge he was facing — saying she could not conclude beyond a reasonable doubt he knew the drug was in the house.

Police found 90 pills in baggies in a glass jar on the fridge. Smallwood said the walls of the jar were obscured enough that Mohamed may not have known it contained the fentanyl pills.

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