A man who ran a large-scale drug trafficking operation throughout the Okanagan and Kootenays will likely spend the majority of his 20s behind bars.
Abd'l Loubissi-Morris, 25, appeared in Kelowna court Friday for sentencing, after he struck a plea deal with the Crown last October, pleading guilty to conspiracy to traffic controlled substances and possession of a restricted firearm.
The charges stem from a July 2018 police raid on an apartment unit on Kelowna's Academy Way, near UBC Okanagan. In the apartment, police found 1.13 kg of fentanyl, 1.552 kg of methamphetamine, 671.55 grams of cocaine and 20.51 grams of ketamine, along with six firearms and more than $170,000 in cash. Of the cash found, $100,000 was found in the freezer. Crown prosecutor Tareyn Warren said the total value of the drugs if sold at the street level was more than $350,000.
Prior to the raid, police witnessed Loubissi-Morris and his co-accused, Tien Roy Mai Dang and Noah Didhra, enter and leave the apartment several times. Mai Dang was the registered tenant of the apartment unit.
In an agreed statement of facts, Loubissi-Morris admitted he directed the “high-level trafficking operation,” which distributed drugs through the Okanagan and Kootenay regions. He was just 21 years old when he was arrested. Mai Dang and Didhra are believed to have worked for Loubissi-Morris.
Police had entered the Academy Way apartment on July 10, 2018 to covertly install audio and video recording devices in connection to a Surrey RCMP shooting investigation, but some of the drugs, guns and cash were in plain site when the officers entered.
During sentencing, Justice Steven Wilson said police essentially “stumbled upon” the drug trafficking operation during their shooting investigation.
A 62-year-old woman, an innocent bystander visiting the Lower Mainland from Ontario, was struck by a bullet during the July 2017 shooting in Surrey. At the time, police said the shooting was connected to the ongoing gang conflict in the Lower Mainland.
Loubissi-Morris eventually pleaded guilty to aggravated assault and using a firearm to commit an offence in March 2021, stemming from the 2017 Surrey shooting, and he was handed a 46-month sentence.
During the shooting investigation, police intercepted cell phone communications from Loubissi-Morris to others involved in his trafficking operation. During Friday's sentencing hearing, Crown prosecutor Warren read some of these intercepted conversations.
In a June 6, 2018 conversation, Loubissi-Morris said they were "blessed," and noted the importance of recruiting more drug dealers.
“We got to get more kids bro, it's a big deal,” Loubissi-Morris said. “Talk to Bucky and say 'Yo, you wanna make eight bands a month? Ten bands a month?”
A “band” is slang for $1,000.
During a July 4, 2018 phone call, Loubissi-Morris told another unknown man he had been recruiting kids to work for him: “He told them he was playing it smart and that the kids were holding everything,” Warren said.
Loubissi-Morris said he'd been working in Cranbrook, Creston, Nelson, Trail and Fernie.
“Places that I don't even know bro, but like it's worth it you know,” Loubissi-Morris said.
The men also discussed how “Kyle” had been arrested, which would allow them to “take over [drug trafficking in] the province.”
“I've got the Kootenays going out too ... maybe we could do something on the Island though, I was thinking,” Loubissi-Morris said during a July 8, 2018 intercepted conversation.
Despite admitting to directing the “high-level drug trafficking operation,” and discussing “taking over” the B.C. drug trade, Warren said Loubissi-Morris is not alleged to be involved in any particular gang.
During the July 10, 2018 police raid on the apartment, Mai Dang showed up at the apartment and called Loubissi-Morris.
“Ya like, F bro, everything was there right? ... Files and s*** too?” Loubissi-Morris asked during their intercepted conversation.
“Everything bro ... it was 100 per cent, a million per cent,” Mai Dang replied.
Loubissi-Morris was facing a total of 15 charges, including six counts of possession for the purpose of trafficking and seven firearms charges, but Warren stayed the remaining 13 charges at the conclusion of sentencing as part of the plea deal.
Both Warren and defence counsel Conor Muldoon agreed on a joint sentencing submission of 8.5 years minus 14 months of enhanced presentence custody. Justice Wilson ultimately accepted the sentence.
Loubissi-Morris completed his sentence on the shooting-related charge last July, but he's remained in custody on the trafficking charges since.
While the Crown and defence both agreed an 11-year sentence fell within the Supreme Court of Canada's sentencing range for large-scale fentanyl trafficking convictions, they factored in his sentence for the shooting conviction, and determined a shorter sentence was appropriate.
The “totality principle” of sentencing requires a court to craft a total sentence that is not “excessive” when dealing with multiple convictions. Justice Wilson said he was initially “troubled” by the idea of taking into account a somewhat unrelated conviction when dealing with the trafficking sentence, but ultimately agreed with the joint submission.
“The victim in a drug-type of charge is society as a whole and our communities, this is not a victimless crime,” Justice Wilson said during sentencing. “There is a significant health crisis across British Columbia and Canada relating to illegal drugs, especially fentanyl.”
But Justice Wilson noted Loubissi-Morris' “rudderless adolescence” in Vancouver likely contributed to his criminal lifestyle.
“Young men often believe in their own invincibility,” Justice Wilson said. “Mr. Loubissi-Morris tells me he's now wiser than he was then. Time will tell; words are easy, but it's his future actions that will ultimately determine whether he becomes a productive member of society, leading a normal, productive life.”
Loubissi-Morris apologized to the court for his actions, and said he recognizes the harm he has caused. He said he hopes to work with young people once he's released from custody to help others from going down the same path he did. He also said he plans to enrol in a college business program once he's released.
Justice Wilson also acceded to the joint submission's request that he recommend Loubissi-Morris be incarcerated at the Mission Institution – a minimum and medium security facility – so he can be close to his extended family and partner.
Warren also consented to returning $7,000 in cash that police had taken from Loubissi-Morris in August 2018, and a Louis Vuitton purse that had been taken in October 2018.
Loubissi-Morris' co-accused, Mai Dang and Didhra, have also pleaded guilty to charges connected to the 2018 bust. They're currently out of custody on bail, and they're scheduled to face sentencing in April.