Two B.C. men will spend two and four years, respectively, in a penitentiary on drug trafficking charges stemming from a mid-level Kelowna-based operation.
In the Vancouver Law Courts April 6, Justice Michael Tammen called the trafficking operation in which Noah Didhra, 24, and Tien Roy Mai Dang, 26, were involved, “extremely serious criminal activity.” He said sentencing must reflect society’s condemnation of such activity.
Crown prosecutor Tareyn Warren said the street value of the seized drugs was about $350,000.
Tammen agreed with a joint submission on sentencing from Warren and Mai Dang’s and Didhra’s lawyers, respectively Donald Muldoon and Stanley Tessmer.
Both defence lawyers noted their clients’ young age, lack of criminal records and good performance while on bail in the three years since they were charged.
Mai Dang pleaded guilty in January to conspiracy to traffic in cocaine, fentanyl, methamphetamine, ketamine and heroin. He got four years.
Didhra pleaded guilty in January to two counts of possession for the purposes of trafficking — one for cocaine, the other for fentanyl. He received sentences of two years for each to be served concurrently.
Asked by Tammen if he wanted to say anything, Mai Dang said, “I’m deeply regretful, deeply sorry about the things I’ve done.”
Didhra said, “No comment.”
“Both the sentences recommended to the court by counsel are penitentiary sentences,” Tammen said. “That in and of itself represents a significant sentence for any youthful offender.”
Tammen said the two were subordinates of Abd'l Loubissi-Morris, 25, who ran the operation in the Okanagan and Kootenay regions.
Loubissi-Morris pleaded guilty to conspiracy to traffic controlled substances and possession of a restricted firearm and was sentenced to 8.5 years in prison.
The charges stem from a July 2018 police raid on an apartment unit on Kelowna's Academy Way, near UBC Okanagan. There, 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.
More than $170,000 in cash was seized — some $100,000 of that was found in the freezer.
Prior to the raid, police witnessed Loubissi-Morris, Mai Dang and 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.
In a tapped July 4, 2018 phone call, Loubissi-Morris said he'd been working in Cranbrook, Creston, Nelson, Trail and Fernie.
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 Loubissi-Morris’s 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 cellphone communications from Loubissi-Morris to others involved in his trafficking operation. During Friday's sentencing hearing, Crown prosecutor Warren read some of those intercepted conversations.
With files from Nicholas Johansen