Yellowknife drug ring 'kingpin' receives 9-year prison sentence

A 22-year-old Ontario man has been given one of the longest prison sentences ever handed down for drug trafficking in the Northwest Territories.

Dube was in charge of a 'large scale, sophisticated operation,' Justice Shannon Smallwood says

Todd Dube leaves the Yellowknife courthouse Wednesday afternoon. Dube was sentenced Thursday to nine years for trafficking in cocaine, fentanyl, ecstasy and other drugs. (Richard Gleeson/CBC)

A 22-year-old Ontario man has been given one of the longest prison sentences ever handed down for drug trafficking in the Northwest Territories.

On Thursday, Todd Dube was sentenced to nine years in prison for conspiring to traffic in cocaine, fentanyl, ecstasy and other drugs.

"This was a large-scale, sophisticated operation," said Justice Shannon Smallwood in handing down her sentence.

Smallwood noted Dube had accumulated 24 criminal convictions by the time he was 19 years old. His first came when he was 14.

Dube, who grew up in Welland, Ont., was arrested in April 2016 after police spent months listening in on his cell phone conversations and reading his text messages.

In one particularly sinister conversation that was played in court during the sentencing hearing, Dube, then 19, offers an Edmonton man and his accomplices $5,000 to beat a suspected snitch. When asked how badly he wanted the man beaten, Dube responds, "put him in the hospital, in a coma."

After Dube told his accomplices where the man lived, police arrested the man on outstanding warrants to prevent the attack. Dube was sentenced to three years for that attempted assault, but the sentence will result in no additional prison time. 

"The judge needs to take into consideration the global sentence that will be imposed and has to make sure that that sentence, because there are several charges, is not excessive," explained prosecutor Annie Piche.

"So in this case the judge chose to impose a concurrent sentence on the charge of conspiracy to commit aggravated assault."

Piche had called for a sentence of between eight and 10 years. Dube's lawyer had argued for six to seven years.

Boasted and bragged

In other conversations, Dube gave instructions on how to keep prostitutes in line, boasted about being in charge of the North Slave Correctional Centre, and bragged about the brisk drug business he was doing in Yellowknife.

The prosecutor said Dube was selling between six and eight kilograms of cocaine each month in the city of about 20,000 people.

But it was Dube's trafficking in the deadly opiate fentanyl that resulted in the long jail sentence. Though there have been only a few convictions for fentanyl trafficking, in their sentences judges in the N.W.T. have treated fentanyl as far more serious than cocaine, and on par with heroin trafficking.

In a letter to the judge, Dube's mother, a police officer in Welland, said she was "in disbelief and heartbroken" to hear her son had been charged with trafficking hard drugs, considering his sister had struggled with drug addiction.

Dube's sister, Brittany, was earlier sentenced to five years in jail for her role in the drug scheme.

Dube was out on bail on charges from High Level, Alta., when he was arrested in Yellowknife. He was charged with breaching conditions to not possess or consume drugs, not to have a cell phone and to report to RCMP in High Level weekly. He's due to be sentenced on those charges on Friday.