A sentencing hearing has begun for two men the Crown says were key players in a major cocaine ring in the St. John's area.

Peter Blok-Andersen and Ben Strongitharm were convicted after a nine-week jury trial.

Both men were arrested following a four-month joint drug investigation launched in 2009 by the RCMP and RNC, and dubbed Operation Razorback.

Crown prosecutor Brenda Boyd called Blok-Andersen the kingpin of the lucrative cocaine ring.

And Boyd said Strongitharm was no mere player, but a trusted operator who brought cocaine across the country to St. John's, met with known drug dealers, and was seen many times coming and going from stash houses.   

Boyd told a Newfoundland and Labrador Supreme Court justice that hard drugs have a detrimental impact on individuals and society, and that dealers like Blok-Andersen and Strongitharm are parasites who prey on the weak for money.

She said it was clear that, during the months of the investigation, there were 28 kilos of cocaine in play, worth about $1.2 million.

Thirteen people were charged as a result of Operation Razorback. Most pleaded guilty, with sentences ranging from two to seven years.

Boyd argued Strongitharm should get 10 to 12 years, while Blok-Andersen should get the stiffest sentence, in the range of 12 to 14 years.

Later Thursday afternoon, a major technical issue halted the sentencing hearing.

Blok-Andersen’s lawyer argued the judge couldn’t sentence his client on one of the charges for which he had been convicted: being a member of, or benefiting from, a criminal organization.

The matter is expected to return to court next week for a status update.