Drug trafficking trial begins in Yellowknife for Ndilo elder and her daughter

The trial of a Ndilo, N.W.T., elder and her daughter, accused of trafficking drugs in 2016, got underway Wednesday in Yellowknife.

Vitaline and Mary Anne Lafferty face charges related to drug possession and trafficking

Court heard that police seized 1.7 kilograms of cocaine, 5.4 kilograms of marijuana, five litres of liquid codeine, and 85 grams of a substance believed to be MDMA at a checkstop near Fort Providence, N.W.T., in 2016. (RCMP)

On Sept. 21, Mary Anne Lafferty was convicted of eight counts of possession for the purpose of trafficking. Vitaline Lafferty was acquitted of the same charges.


The trial of a Ndilo, N.W.T., elder and her daughter, accused of trafficking drugs in 2016, got underway Wednesday in Yellowknife.

Vitaline Lafferty and her daughter, Mary Anne Lafferty, were arrested near Fort Providence during an RCMP vehicle checkstop. They were charged with eight counts each related to trafficking cocaine, codeine and MDMA.

Vitaline was 77 at the time of the arrest; Mary Anne was 55.

The two appeared before Justice Shannon Smallwood in N.W.T Supreme Court as the trial began Wednesday afternoon. A jury will determine the fate of both women.

[Did they] prefer to be blind to the truth... or deliberately ignorant to the truth?- Duane Praught , Crown prosecutor

In his opening statements, Crown prosecutor Duane Praught said this case is about drugs and whether or not the accused were in possession of them.

"Being in possession could mean joint possession between the accused and other parties," Praught told the jury.  

"[Did they] prefer to be blind to the truth … or deliberately ignorant to the truth?"

Court heard that on March 18, 2016, Vitaline and Mary Anne were pulled over while driving a 2014 blue Ford Escape that was registered to Vitaline.

More witnesses to come

RCMP had designed the checkstop to catch a blue SUV as part of a police investigation named "Green Manalishi," court was told.

Const. Philip Unger, who was stationed in Hay River, N.W.T., on the traffic services unit and conducted the checkstop, testified on Wednesday.

"Through [information] we received, there was going to be a transaction of drugs and cash," Unger told the court.

The tip indicated that the transaction was related to a blue SUV heading from Indian Cabins, Alta., to Yellowknife, said Unger.

In court, Unger identified Vitaline as the driver of the vehicle, and Mary Anne as the passenger.

Unger said the vehicle was searched and approximately 1.7 kilograms of cocaine was seized, along with 5.8 kilograms of marijuana, five litres of liquid codeine, and 84.5 grams of MDMA.

The trial continues Thursday morning. The Crown is expected to call upon more RCMP witnesses who were involved with the operation.