Charged with trafficking, Edmonton duo appear in court

Iqaluit cops seize 1.5 kilos of crack cocaine


Two Edmonton men appeared in an Iqaluit courtroom March 10 after RCMP in Iqaluit seized more than 1.5 kilograms of crack cocaine and $8,300 in cash.

Darrean Wesley Hall and Jacob Allen Friskie, both of Edmonton, are each charged with two counts of drug trafficking after Mounties executed search warrants on three apartments in Nunavut's capital.

In a news release, police said they seized 1,900 individual doses of crack worth nearly $385,000.

"Obviously crack cocaine isn't made in Nunavut, so obviously it's tied to southern criminal elements that are impacting northern life," Sgt. Mike Toohey said in an interview.

Crack cocaine has emerged as a major concern in Iqaluit. While the RCMP once insisted there was little to no signs of the drug here, they've now made their second major crack bust in six months.

Last October, police seized nearly $400,000 worth of crack, $92,000 in cash and a rifle during a raid in Iqaluit. They arrested Rafic El Cherkkaowi, also of Edmonton, who made a court appearance in Iqaluit last week. Cherkkaowi is due back in court March 17 to learn when he will stand trial.

It's not clear if the two busts are related, but Toohey said Nunavut RCMP are working with police in Alberta to prevent more cocaine from entering the territory. He refused to give more details about the investigation.

Al Hayward, an Iqaluit city councillor who has previously criticized the Mounties for being slow to react to the city's crack problem, praised the RCMP for last week's bust.

"The Iqaluit detachment should be really commended on their efforts to rid Iqaluit of this plague of foreigners who come in, with no ties or vested interests in Iqaluit, and sell poison to our citizens," Hayward said.

Appearing separately before a Justice of the Peace Monday, Hall and Friskie were each remanded into custody while their Edmonton lawyer applies for a certificate to practice law in Nunavut. That process could take a week.

Friskie appeared haggard, with mussed hair and a red mark on his right cheek, calling Bill Riddell, the Justice of the Peace, "sir" as he answered questions and had the charges read to him.

Hall, a big bearded man with a mop of blonde hair and tattoos, also spoke to Riddell politely as the JP read charges to him.

The two appeared together yesterday as the Crown and Chady Moustarah, their Edmonton lawyer, tried to determine if he can represent them in a bail hearing.

Moustarah is not a member of the Nunavut bar and typically must be granted what's called a "restricted appearance certificate" before he can appear in court here.

Riddell was to determine if Moustarah could represent Friskie and Hall in a bail hearing Wednesday, after the Nunatsiaq News deadline this week.

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