Plea deals avoid lengthy drug trafficking trials
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 If charges of gangsterism are withdrawn, many of the defendants will plead guilty to conspiracy.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.