BY KEITH LACEY
A huge cocaine trafficking case in Greater Sudbury, dating back three years, came to a screeching halt this week. The four local men involved pleaded guilty to conspiracy to traffic huge amounts of the addictive white powder.
The guilty pleas came on the eve of several weeks of pre-trial motions scheduled against Michael Anderson, 31, also known as Michael Hubert. He was described as one of the ringleaders of a cocaine trafficking ring from spring to late fall of 2004.
Torrie Dunlop, 30, described as another major player at the top of the ring, also pleaded guilty to conspiracy to traffic cocaine.
Federal Crown prosecutor Michael Jones told the court Anderson and Dunlop were involved in operating a huge cocaine distribution ring, which involved members of Hells Angels from Sherbrooke, Que.
Anderson was involved in dealing large amounts of cocaine not only across Greater Sudbury, but also parts of British Columbia, Quebec and New Brunswick, said Jones.
Two local “distributors” who worked for Anderson and Dunlop, Robert Dominelli, 34, and James Peterson, 52, also pleaded guilty to conspiracy to traffic charges.
A joint investigation between the RCMP, OPP and Greater Sudbury Police included extensive surveillance and gathering of hundreds of hours of wiretap evidence, said Jones.
Court heard Anderson and Dunlop were caught with more than a kilogram of cocaine when they were arrested in the fall of 2004 in Barrie.
Justice John Poupore of the Ontario Superior Court of Justice was brought in for sentencing after negotiations were initiated between Jones and various defence lawyers.
Justice Patricia Hennessy was prepared to hear a scheduled six weeks of pre-trial motions relating to Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms issues and legality of police wiretaps.
After spending more than 27 months in pre-trial custody, Anderson was granted in excess of two-for-one credit or a five-year penitentiary term, and sent free Tuesday.
All charges against Anderson’s father, Max Hubert, were dismissed.
Dunlop, who spent one year behind bars before being released on bail a year ago, was given a conditional sentence to be served in the community for the next 18 months.
During that time he’s to be under a daily curfew, except for work purposes, and he’s not to take any illicit drugs. He’s prohibited from owning or possessing weapons for 10 years.
Dominelli, who spent almost one year behind bars, was given a three-month conditional sentence to be served in the community. During that time he’s to adhere to a daily curfew and not take any illicit drugs.
Peterson will be sentenced Sept. 10.
The federal Crown prosecutor told the court a joint investigation team started its investigation in the spring of 2004 and targeted Anderson and Jason McGonagle.
McGonagle also pleaded guilty to conspiracy to traffic cocaine charges on Feb. 13. He was sentenced to 207 days in jail on top of several months he spent in custody before being released on bail.
The ringleaders received regular shipments of cocaine from three men from Sherbrooke affiliated with the Hells Angels motorcycle organization.
The Quebec men would drop off drugs in isolated, wooded areas in Greater Sudbury. The cocaine would be picked up, cut with agents to lower its purity and given to lower-level distributors such as Dominelli and Peterson, said Jones.
Anderson’s lawyer Michael Lacy and Dunlop’s lawyer Melanie Dunn, didn’t dispute the agreed statement of facts, but wanted on the record neither of their clients belong to the Hells Angels.
The court heard dealers purchase a pound of cocaine for about $18,000, and once it is cut it is worth about $25,000 a pound.
When Dominelli and Peterson were arrested, both were found in possession of large amounts of dextrose, an agent used to reduce the potency of cocaine and other drug paraphernalia, said Jones.
On Aug. 13, 2004, Peterson was caught with 110 grams of cocaine and arrested. One hour later, Dominelli showed up at the same location and searched the area, but couldn’t find any drugs, said Jones.
A few days later, Dominelli was arrested after being caught with a significant amount of cocaine that was 74 percent pure, he said.
According to the federal Crown prosecutor, on Sept. 24, 2004, two Quebec men were charged near Sudbury after police found them with $18,000 in cash and Hells Angels paraphernalia.
On Aug. 27, 2004, Anderson and McGonagle were caught with more than two kilograms of cocaine, which was 80 percent pure, after getting off a train in New Brunswick.
Anderson was released and a few weeks later on Sept. 16, 2004, a police wiretap recorded a conversation between Anderson and Dunlop.
During that discussion, they talked about how they were moving large amounts of cocaine in the range of two to three kilograms each month in Greater Sudbury, Jones said.