Drug case against 2 Edmonton men collapses

Drug charges against two Edmonton men were stayed earlier this summer due to problems with the warrant police used to search a Yellowknife hotel room, where they found just under 200 grams of crack cocaine.

Judge said warrant for search that turned up almost 200 grams should not have been issued

RCMP display drugs and cash seized in a December 2017 search of a Yellowknife hotel room. A judge said the warrant to search the room was not valid and excluded the drugs as evidence in the trial of two Edmonton men. As a result, the charges against them were stayed. (Yellowknife RCMP)

A drug case against two Edmonton men ended suddenly earlier this summer due to problems with the warrant police used to search a Yellowknife hotel room where they found just under 200 grams of crack cocaine.

Quintin Glasgow-Brownlow and Mahmoud Taliani were charged with possessing cocaine for the purpose of trafficking at the conclusion of the search in December 2017.

The two men challenged the validity of the search warrant, arguing police did not have enough information to justify a search warrant for that room.

During a hearing in February, the police admitted they were initially targeting the room across the hall, but added the second room in the search warrant after seeing some of the suspects enter and then leave that room.

"None of the police officers at the time believed that this was sufficient to establish grounds to include Room 114 in the search warrant and I agree with their assessment," noted N.W.T. Supreme Court Justice Shannon Smallwood in her written decision.

Smallwood said the warrant to search that room should not have been issued just because the suspects were seen entering and leaving the room.

"It established a link to Room 114, but I cannot conclude it established reasonable grounds to believe evidence would be found in Room 114."

The judge said the officer who prepared the application for a search warrant should have asked the investigating officers for more supporting information.

Smallwood said the breach of Taliani's and Glasgow-Brownlow's Charter right to not be subject to arbitrary searches was serious enough that the drugs seized should be excluded from the trial.

Without the drugs seized, the case against the men collapsed.

Taliani and Glasgow-Brownlow were part of a group of five men targeted by the same investigation. It began on Nov. 30, 2017, when the RCMP received a tip from the Saskatoon Police Service's vice unit. A woman who worked as an escort there had called them saying she needed help to escape from men who were trafficking her.

Charges of human trafficking against two of the men were dismissed at their preliminary inquiry when the woman recanted her story. A fifth man, Mohamed Abdula Ali, was convicted of obstruction.