In the first day of a scheduled two-day sentencing hearing, prosecutors called for an eight to 10 year sentence for 22-year-old Todd Dube, the person once at the centre of a sophisticated drug ring in Yellowknife.

Dube pleaded guilty Wednesday morning to conspiring to sell fentanyl, cocaine, heroin, MDMA (known as ecstasy), and other drugs. He also pleaded guilty to conspiring to have a man in Edmonton, who he believed was a snitch, beaten into a coma.

In calling for the sentence, prosecutor Annie Piche noted greed was the sole motivation for Dube's drug dealing. He was not doing it to feed a drug addiction, as some of the people working for him were. He was also out on bail on other charges at the time he was dealing.

According to his lawyer, Dube was 18 when he came to Yellowknife. By the time he was 19, he presided over the biggest drug ring in the city, and by the time he was 20, he was in jail on the charges he's being sentenced for. He's celebrated his last two birthdays at the North Slave Correctional Centre.

Dube used four street-level dealers in a dial-a-dope operation that ran 24 hours a day, feeding a demand for drugs — in particular cocaine — that's disproportionately large for the city's population of about 20,000. According to the prosecutor, Dube's drug ring was selling between six and eight kilograms of powdered and crack cocaine each month.

Recorded conversations played at hearing

Pale-faced, bearded and wearing glasses, Dube looked more like a young hipster dressed in dark clothes and loafers than a hardened drug dealer during his sentencing hearing. His lawyer, David Baker, said his mother, a police officer in Ontario, wanted to be at the hearing but couldn't because of her work. Dube's girlfriend sat a few feet behind him in the front row of the courtroom gallery.

Dube seemed to be listening intently as the prosecutor played numerous telephone conversations he had with others, conversations that were secretly recorded by the RCMP as part of its 'Green Manalishi' drug investigation.

In one, he urged a man in Edmonton to attack another man Dube suspected of snitching to police. Dube offered the man and his friends $5,000 to carry out the attack. When asked how bad a beating he wanted, he responded, "put him in the hospital, in a coma."

Dube gave them the man's address, told them where in the building his apartment was, and said he typically left each day to buy alcohol. Listening in on the conversation in Yellowknife, the RCMP immediately relayed the information to police in Edmonton, who arrested the man on outstanding warrants before the attack.

Dube had the drugs brought up from British Columbia. One of the men doing the deliveries, Eddy Radeka, was earlier sentenced to five years in prison. Dube admitted he told Radeka to hand off one shipment to a car being driven by a Ndilo woman and her grandmother. On March 18, 2016, the RCMP pulled them over and seized almost two kilograms of cocaine, more than five kilograms of marijuana, 85 grams of ecstacy and 5.5 litres of a syrup containing a tranquilizer.

RCMP seizure

A display of drugs, cash, and merchandise seized by RCMP as part of Operation Green Manalishi. (Garrett Hinchey/CBC)

In recorded phone conversations, Dube seemed to regard it as a minor setback, saying "it could have been much worse."

Three weeks later, police pulled over Radeka and found more than 1,000 fentanyl pills, more than two kilograms of cocaine and six litres of the tranquilizer syrup.

Police executed search warrants in Yellowknife that evening, arresting Dube, Radeka and six accomplices, including Dube's younger sister, Brittany.

Dube's lawyer, David Baker, urged the judge to reject Piche's suggestion that there is little prospect of rehabilitating Dube.

"Young people change, they become wiser, they become better as they age, often," said Baker. He said his client wants to become a tradesman, a carpenter or electrician.

Dube had the last words at his sentencing hearing. Reading from a written statement, he told the judge, "I know what I've done is wrong and I've hurt a lot of people. I've made it my goal to better myself, to make an honest life and an honest living."

The judge is scheduled to hand down her sentence Thursday afternoon.