07/29/2015 12:20 EDT | Updated 07/29/2016 05:59 EDT

Saint John man sentenced for drug ring bust involving N.S., Quebec

A Saint John man has been sentenced to 30 months in prison for his role in what police allege was a "major" drug trafficking network that stretched across three provinces.

James T. Mailman, 38, who was arrested on Sept. 10, 2014, as part of a joint-force investigation dubbed Operation J-Tornado, changed his plea to guilty last month of possession for the purpose of trafficking.

He has been in custody since June 17 and was sentenced in Saint John provincial court on Wednesday, based on a joint recommendation from the federal Crown and defence.

"It was a sophisticated network Mr. Mailman was involved in," Crown prosecutor Jillian Jordan told the courtroom.

Mailman was one of 28 people charged in connection with a drug trafficking network that stretched from New Brunswick to Nova Scotia and Quebec, according to a news release issued by the the RCMP​ last fall. Fifteen of the people charged are from Saint John.

"Large quantities" of drugs, including heroin and cocaine, were supplied to two crime groups in Saint John via routes from Montreal and Halifax, and from another crime group in Moncton, RCMP Staff Sgt. Al Farrah said at the time.

The drugs were then redistributed to dealers around Saint John, Fredericton, Oromocto, Sussex, St. George and Grand Manan to be sold on the street, said Farrah, who led the three-year joint-forces investigation.

"This was a large organization. There was a lot of money being made by the group," the Crown said on Wednesday.

"At the same time, there is no indication of what profit Mr. Mailman received for his role," which was described as being "passive."

Mailman, who had no prior criminal record, "was simply holding [the drugs] for a third party who was actually involved in the trafficking," Jordan said.

Judge Andrew LeMesurier also ordered Mailman to provide a DNA sample, and prohibited him from owning or possessing firearms for 10 years.

Items seized from Mailman's home, including drug, a scale and a bag of marijuana, have been forfeited.

Police seized large quantities of heroin, cocaine, and marijuana, at least seven firearms, drug paraphernalia and cash from several homes and businesses in eight communities in southern New Brunswick last September, as part of Operation J-Tornado.

The operation involved the RCMP, the Saint John Police Force, Kennebecasis Regional Police Force and Canada Border Services Agency.