Yellowknife man charged with cocaine trafficking asks judge to return seized money for lawyer fees

A Yellowknife man facing cocaine trafficking charges has applied to use seized cash to pay for a lawyer.

The applicant says he faces up to $100K in lawyer fees

Large imposing building in soft light.
A Yellowknife man is asking the N.W.T. Supreme Court to return money seized by RCMP last spring. (Natalie Pressman/CBC)

A Yellowknife man facing cocaine trafficking charges is applying to use cash seized during a raid of his apartment last year to pay for a lawyer.

Abdulkadir Dirshe appeared in N.W.T. Supreme Court in Yellowknife Monday morning to argue for the return of $61,335 police seized from his apartment last spring.

In his application Dirshe, who was released on bail in November, says it will cost between $75,000 and $100,000 to hire a defence lawyer. He's facing three drug trafficking charges and one charge of possessing the proceeds of crime.

Almost an hour into the hearing, Justice Louise Charbonneau imposed a publication ban on all the evidence presented during the hearing to avoid complicating any potential jury trial.

Crown prosecutors Nikita McFadden and Brendan Green argued that the money should not be returned. Dirshe answered questions from his lawyer, who appeared over a video link, and the prosecutors. A police witness also testified.

At the time of Dirshe's arrest, RCMP said the charges against him and four others were the result of a three-month investigation. They said a total of $70,535 in cash was seized along with 20 pieces of cocaine and a small amount of powdered cocaine.

The application to get back seized funds happens in two stages. The first stage determines if the applicant meets the criteria for return of the money — including being lawfully entitled to the seized possession and having no other assets or means available. If Dirshe is found to meet the criteria, the hearing will move into the second stage to determine the reasonableness of legal expenses. 

None of the charges against Dirshe have been proven in court.

Charbonneau is expected to give a decision on the money Feb. 6.



Jenna Dulewich

Current affairs reporter

Jenna Dulewich is a journalist with CBC North. She joined the team in Yellowknife in 2020, after a career in print journalism in southern Alberta. In 2017, she was awarded Excellence in Rural Reporting from News Media Canada for her reporting on the lack of emergency shelters in rural Alberta. In 2020, she won the Emerging Indigenous Journalist Award from the Canadian Association of Journalists.