Man sentenced to 1 year for selling crack to undercover RCMP

One of the minor players caught up in an RCMP drug investigation in Yellowknife has been sentenced to a year in jail.

Brandon Topilikon, 28, was sentenced in territorial court on Friday. He had earlier pleaded guilty to trafficking cocaine and numerous breaches of his release conditions.

Topilikon was among 15 people charged in a 2018 RCMP investigation called Project Gloomiest, though he was far from being a target of the investigation.

The RCMP say the main target was Toufic Chamas. Late last year the Edmonton man was sentenced to four-and-a-half years in jail for cocaine trafficking and firearms charges. Others arrested in the same investigation have yet to go to trial.

Bad choice of buyer

According to a statement of agreed facts read out in court during his sentencing on Friday, in March of 2018 Topilokon initiated a cocaine transaction in front of Centre Square Mall. He approached a man and asked if he wanted to buy any "hard or soft," meaning crack cocaine or powdered cocaine.

The man he approached was an undercover RCMP officer. The officer agreed to buy a gram of crack, which Topilikon sold to him for $60. Topilikon also told the officer he owed another $20 for a phone number the officer could use to buy additional cocaine.

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In the months since, Topilikon has been released and re-arrested for violating the terms of his release, only to be released again. In addition to the drug trafficking charge, he was being sentenced for failing to obey his release conditions six times.

A background report prepared for the sentencing indicated Topilikon, who is Inuit, suffered many of the same disadvantages growing up that other Indigenous people have suffered. His father was never part of his life. From a young age, he was left to take care of his mother, who had from schizophrenia. He stayed with relatives who abused alcohol and lived in three foster homes.

Just before being sentenced Topilikon said that drug and alcohol addictions were his "normal."

"I hate it," he said. "I despise it every day."

Topilikon dabbed away tears as his lawyer talked about the situation in which his incarceration has left his two children. He and his partner were also taking care of two of her younger siblings.

Judge Garth Malakoe noted Topilikon was selling to support his own drug habit, and suffers from disadvantages from his childhood through no fault of his own.

"If the stars align and Mr. Topilikon can avoid the old normal, as he says, and replace it with a new normal that focuses on parenting and working and dealing with his mental health issues then I think he can lead a productive life that does not rely on criminal activity," said Malakoe during his sentencing.

After serving his jail time, Topilikon will be on probation for two years.

His legal troubles are not over yet. Topilikon is accused of an April 10 knifepoint robbery. He's accused of robbing a man of his backpack. He's scheduled to appear in court on that charge June 16.