A Yukon judge has found a man not guilty of possession of cocaine for the purpose of trafficking. She ruled there wasn’t enough proof he had ever possessed the drugs in the Yukon.
Jason McMillan of B.C. was arrested as part of Project Monolith, an RCMP investigation into a drug trafficking operation between the Lower Mainland and the Yukon.
The Crown alleged that McMillan was involved in the packaging and transportation of drugs into the territory. The key piece of evidence was two of McMillan’s fingerprints found on Tuck Tape and a plastic bag used to package a one-kilogram brick of cocaine.
That’s the same brick of drugs that a former drug dealer turned police agent would later pick up from inside an oven drawer in Porter Creek.
McMillan was charged with possession “on or about August 30, 2013, at or near Whitehorse.”
In order for him to be found guilty in this case, prosecutors have to prove all three parts of that charge: the possession, the date and the location.
Yukon territorial court judge Karen Ruddy focused her decision on the time and location components. The Crown didn’t prove either of those, she said.
During a three-day trial earlier this year, no one testified to seeing McMillan at the home around the time of the pickup.
Even the police informant, whose identity is protected by a publication ban, “was not aware of any involvement by the accused in the transaction,” Ruddy wrote.
“He testified that he did not really know Mr. McMillan, but that he had met him at least one time.”
He “did not identify the accused as someone who had delivered cocaine to Whitehorse in the past,” the judge said.
Prosecutor Eric Marcoux admitted that the evidence was circumstantial, but argued that the only conclusion you could reach from evidence was that McMillian was guilty as charged.
McMillan’s lawyer, Jeremy Guild, disagreed. There are lots of innocent ways fingerprints could get on tape and a plastic bag, he said. Even if the prints were enough to prove that his client had possessed the drugs at some time, the Crown hasn’t proven the specific time and location of this charge.
When it comes to the actual date of the possession, Ruddy agreed the law allows for some leeway for when this actually happened.
The evidence suggests that the cocaine arrived in Whitehorse sometime between August 24 and 27, likely the 25th or 26th, she said.
Showing that McMillan possessed the drugs some time between the 24th and the 30th would have been enough in this case, according to the judge.
But “there is no direct evidence that the accused was in Whitehorse at any time close to August 30, 2013. There is no paper trail indicating that he took a trip here, and no evidence that anyone saw him in
Whitehorse or the Yukon around that time,” she said.
In cross-examination, an RCMP fingerprints experts agreed that the print on the Tuck Tape would have been placed before the brick of cocaine was heat sealed in a plastic wrapper. He also testified this wrapping would most likely have been done before the drugs were transported to Whitehorse, not while they were there.
Ruddy agreed that this kind of packaging would have happened before the drugs made it to Whitehorse.
“Transporting the brick without this layer of protection would have made it more vulnerable to things like water and friction and also would have rendered it more easily detected in the event that the car was searched en route to Whitehorse,” she said.
“The fact that the accused’s left thumbprint is on Tuck Tape sealed with the cocaine under this layer strongly suggests his contact with the brick of cocaine took place before it left the Lower Mainland.”
Multiple people are facing charges after the Monolith investigation, which police have called “one of the most significant organized crime investigations in the territory to date.”
Earlier this month, Yukoner Kuntoniah Graham was convicted of possession for the purpose of trafficking. He has not been sentenced yet.
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