NEWS

Operation Razorback: Two key players in cocaine ring sentenced

11/18/2014 02:39 EST | Updated 01/18/2015 05:59 EST
Two key players in a "relatively sophisticated" cocaine ring that was busted by police in early 2010 have been sentenced in Newfoundland and Labrador Supreme Court.

Peter Blok-Andersen, considered a leading figure in the ring, was sentenced to seven years in prison for convictions of possession for the purpose of trafficking and his involvement with a criminal organization.

He was given credit of 263.5 days for time served, which will be deducted from his sentence.

Meanwhile, Ben Strongitharm received a total sentence of five-and-a-half years for multiple convictions of trafficking and being involved with a criminal organization.

Strongitharm was credited with 443.5 days for time served.

They are both from British Columbia, and were among 13 people arrested during Operation Razorback in January 2010.

Most of the others have been sentenced, with prison terms ranging from two to seven years.

The operation was a joint investigation involving police in Newfoundland and B.C.

The two were convicted following a nine-week trial this past spring.

Sentences less than requested by Crown

The sentences by Justice Maureen Dunn were substantially less than those requested by Crown prosecutor Brenda Boyd.

During a sentencing hearing in July, Boyd argued that Blok-Andersen should get between 12 and 14 years, and Strongitharm should receive 10 to 12 years of incarceration.

Boyd declined comment following Tuesday's sentencing, saying she will review the sentencing report before making any decisions on an appeal.

Blok-Andersen was represented by Jack Lavers, while Strongitharm was represented by Bob Buckingham. 

Both declined comment.

Blok-Andersen's sentence was comparable to that of Evan Brennan-Smith of St. John's, who was also sentenced to seven years in prison.

Dunn described Brennan-Smith as "instrumental" in the drug ring, but said Blok-Andersen "ranked above" Brennan-Smith.

Drugs discovered in secret vehicle compartment

Operation Razorback was commenced in September 2009, and was a joint investigation by the RNC and the RCMP, along with police agencies in Vancouver and Victoria.

During the investigation, police carried out "sneak and peek" operations at so-called stash houses, gathering video evidence of drugs and money in varying quantities and amounts.

Police also discovered drugs and money stored in a hidden compartment of a vehicle that Strongitharm and another accused had driven from B.C. to Newfoundland.

Dunn described the ring as a criminal organization dealing in "multi-kilograms of cocaine."

She said Blok-Andersen was the "directing mind" in arranging the transport of cocaine to this province, its distribution and collection of money.

However, she said it was not proven that Strongitharm occupied some "elevated position of trust."

In letters to the court, both offenders apologized for their actions, with Blok-Andersen stating he was "changing his life and who he associated with."

Strongitharm said he was "directionless" during the time period involved and said he looks forward to paying his debt to society so he can get back to his family.

MORE:cbcNews