Plea deals avoid lengthy drug traf­fick­ing tri­als

Sherbrooke Record - - LOCAL NEWS - Record Staff

Two long jury tri­als re­lated to co­caine traf­fick­ing that were sched­uled for early 2018 have been avoided as the ac­cused have cho­sen to set­tle their cases without a trial.

The ac­cused ar­rested un­der Project Mu­raille cut short le­gal pro­ceed­ings Mon­day and Tues­day at the Sher­brooke court­house by com­mit­ting to plead guilty to charges con­nected with the traf­fick­ing of co­caine in the re­gion of Granby.

Twenty-six ac­cused, in­clud­ing the heads of the two cells in­volved, An­dré Madore of Rox­ton Falls, Jean-mau­rice Viens of Rox­ton Pond, and Richard Skin­ner of Cowansville, re­sponded in the af­fir­ma­tive when they asked if they in­tended to en­ter guilty pleas,

Ac­cord­ing to an agree­ment in prin­ci­ple be­tween the pros­e­cu­tion and the defense, the ac­cused pledged to plead guilty at var­i­ous times over the next few months, be­gin­ning on Oc­to­ber 30.

Most of the ac­cused are charged with con­spir­acy to smug­gle co­caine, metham­phetamine, MDMA, cannabis, and hashish be­tween March 15, 2015 and June 29, 2016 in and around Granby, Re­pentigny, Brossard and else­where in Que­bec and On­tario

De­tails of the acts al­leged against each of ac­cused will be filed in court. If charges of gang­ster­ism are with­drawn, many of the de­fen­dants will plead guilty to con­spir­acy.

Sev­en­teen ac­cused, who have been de­tained since June 29, 2016, have also com­mit­ted to plead guilty and lawyers in the case told the court that com­mon sug­ges­tions will be pre­sented to the court and will be sen­tenc­ing will take place be­tween the end of this month and March 2018.

The ac­cused have also agreed to drop the nu­mer­ous ap­pli­ca­tions that were heard be­fore Su­pe­rior Court Judge Yves Tardif chal­leng­ing a wire­tap, call­ing for the ex­clu­sion of ev­i­dence, to stay pro­ceed­ings, and to have a bilin­gual trial that were to be heard by the end of 2017.

The first trial was sched­uled to begin in Jan­uary 2018 for four months, while the other Cell was sched­uled to begin in April for three months.

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