No booze, no drugs, no jail for dope dealers

Pair serve sentences at home for operating pot pipeline to North

By JANE GEORGE

Two former drug dealers in Salluit won’t be boozing, smoking up or partying while they serve out their conditional sentences at home.

Maggie Saviadjuk, 27, and her spouse, Isaacie Okituk, 34, are under house arrest for their role in the drug pipeline, broken up last year by the “Project Crystal” police operation.

In sentencing the couple last month, Quebec court Judge Donald Bissonnette noted that they operated a network for postal deliveries of drugs in exchange for money transfers.

Court documents say between Feb. 22, and Apr. 8, 2005, Saviadjuk and Okituk received more than 10 packages of marijuana.

These packages each contained from 200 to 299 separate bags of pot, 1.2 to 1.5 grams each, which were sealed, and sprinkled with black pepper to mask the smell. Each bag was sold for $50, of which $30 went back to the drug supplier.

In return for the drugs, Saviadjuk and Okituk sent back $51,000 in sales to the network run by Montreal-based kingpin Marcello Ruggiero. The two probably pocketed a profit of $32,500.

Saviadjuk also acted as an intermediary between Ruggiero’s organization and two pushers in Ivujivik who were also connected with the network.

“Maggie Saviadjuk would receive the proceeds of their drug sales in a parcel and would transfer them via the Northern Store in Salluit to the Ruggiero organization,” a court document reads.

The gig came to an abrupt end on May 31, 2005, when the Aboriginal Combined Forces Special Enforcement Unit broke the long-time drug pipeline from Montreal to Nunavik and Nunavut in a series of early morning raids. The operation resulted in 325 charges against more than 40 people. Those arrested included 23 Inuit in 12 Nunavik and Nunavut communities.

For her involvement in this network, Saviadjuk received a conditional sentence of two years less a day, including 15 months of house arrest in Salluit, starting on Oct. 26, to be followed by a nightly curfew. Saviadjuk isn’t to drink any alcohol or use drugs during the period of house arrest or even be in the presence of people consuming alcohol.

Her spouse, Isaacie Okituk, 34, received a similar sentence.

Trafficking, money laundering and conspiracy charges also netted conditional sentences for three other Nunavimmiut.

On Oct. 24, Judge Bissonnette sentenced Lucassie Cookie, 38, of Umijuaq to serve a conditional sentence of 12 months, with three months of house arrest and several restrictions, followed by a probation period.

At the same court sitting, Jeffrey Kasudluak, 25, of Inukjuak received a three-month conditional sentence with one month of house arrest and restrictions.

Jonah Naktialuk, 29, also of Inukjuak, received a 12-month conditional sentence, with three months of house arrest and restrictions.

Others involved in the drug network are serving time in jail.

On Sept. 8, network boss Ruggiero received a two-year jail sentence, with no probation until next September. He also lost his BMW convertible, a Land Rover, Harley Davidson motorcycle, residence and a downtown commercial building.

Last December, Myva Quarak of Kuujjuraapik was sentenced to 30 months in jail minus time served in preventive custody; in February, Daniel Kasudluak of Inukjuak received 26 months in jail, minus a credit of 22.5 months for time served in preventive custody; and, Isaac Amitook and Bobby Eyaituk, both of Sanikiluaq, were sentenced to 22 and 24 months, respectively, minus 22.5 months for time the two served in preventive custody.

The Kativik Regional Police Force worked with the Aboriginal Combined Forces Special Enforcement Unit on the Project Crystal investigation and raids.

Because of Project Crystal and other activities, the International Association of Chiefs of Police presented the aboriginal combined force in September with an award for “quality in law enforcement.”

But the KRPF suspended all involvement in drug-fighting operations following the firing of former chief Brian Jones in September.

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