A Whitehorse man is on trial this week as part of the Yukon RCMP’s massive Project Monolith investigation into an alleged drug trafficking ring in the Yukon.
Kuntoniah Graham is facing two cocaine-related charges: trafficking and possession for the purpose of trafficking.
The three-day trial is expected to wrap up today with closing arguments from both sides.
Graham was allegedly present when a former drug dealer turned police agent came by to pick up a kilogram of cocaine from the stove drawer in a Porter Creek house.
Graham’s fingerprints were later found on the plastic bag the drugs were wrapped in.
The informant testified in court on Monday. His name is protected under a publication ban now that the RCMP has given him a new life.
The former dealer told the court he had been selling drugs in Whitehorse for about 12 years. He agreed to work for the police because he wanted out of the drug trade but didn’t believe the people he worked for would allow it, he said.
For his services he was paid $1,500 a week during the investigation. On top of that he got $235,000 - half at the end of the investigation and half after he has testified at multiple trials.
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.”
Graham was not considered a high-ranking member of the organization, the informant said.
Three men from the Lower Mainland were the main players, he alleged. They haven’t gone to trial yet.
Amid tight security in the courtroom, the former dealer told the court about the multiple meetings and psychological tests he had to go through before working with the police. He had been a confidential informant before, but this was the first time he would be required to testify in court, he said.
He says on Aug. 30, 2013, after being instructed by the police, he drove to a home in Porter Creek and picked up a kilo of cocaine from the bottom drawer of a stove.
He had gotten a text from one of his associates telling him the drugs would be there, he said.
When he got there, Graham was outside the house, he told the court.
The two men went inside, and the informant asked if “the work” was still there, referring to the cocaine.
Graham said yes and pointed to the stove drawer, he said.
The man testified he took a package out of the drawer and brought it back to an RCMP safe house to turn it over to the police.
Graham’s lawyer, David Tarnow, suggested the man on the witness stand was actually making everything up.
He suggested the former dealer was willing to say anything to take advantage of the police and get the “windfall” of cash and a new life coming his way.
The witness admitted to hating Graham, alleging that Graham stabbed his friend, but he insisted he wasn’t making up his testimony.
Graham was never charged with a stabbing. The police were never called, the witness said.
The man admitted to having a long history of crime in the territory. He had to reveal everything to the police before working with them.
He shot and killed his dog after it destroyed the inside of his rental car.
He told police about being ordered to go to Prince Rupert to bring back a man his boss believed was talking to the police.
The man was brought back to Whitehorse and duct-taped to a chair inside a room covered in plastic to catch any blood. The former dealer admitted that he and another associate beat the man and threatened to cut him up until he admitted to being an informant.
He described that even from jail, he was able to organize the sale of some drugs that he’d left hidden inside the wall of a house.
He once beat someone with a pool ball inside a sock, cracking the man’s skull.
Tarnow spent a lot of time going over the rules for when someone agrees to work with the police like this.
Weeks before signing the official agreement to become a police agent, the informant signed a contract laying out the rules.
Cpl. Lindsay Ellis, a member of the Yukon RCMP’s Federal Investigations Unit and lead investigator for Project Monolith, admitted on the stand that the informant continued to receive shipments of drugs for the group even while police were considering using him as an agent.
That’s not supposed to be allowed.
But Ellis said that not following the group’s orders would have been a “death sentence” for the informant.
The group had been active for a very long time and police were concerned the man’s safety would be at risk and the investigation could be compromised, she said.
The only witness called by the defense was Graham’s twin brother, Kouciah.
He testified that both he and his brother had been to the house multiple times for barbecues.
They would bring their own food, often in plastic bags, he said.
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