Talal Khatib's delayed drug trial resumes in Inuvik with testimony from police officers

·3 min read
RCMP searched Talal Khatib's home in 2017. They found about 500 grams of marijuana, 50 grams of crack cocaine, and 300 grams of powdered cocaine, over $25,000 of cash and restricted weapons, police said.  (Inuvik RCMP - image credit)
RCMP searched Talal Khatib's home in 2017. They found about 500 grams of marijuana, 50 grams of crack cocaine, and 300 grams of powdered cocaine, over $25,000 of cash and restricted weapons, police said. (Inuvik RCMP - image credit)

After some delays, the trial for former landlord Talal Khatib began in the Supreme Court of the Northwest Territories in Inuvik Monday afternoon.

Khatib is accused of possessing cocaine for the purpose of trafficking and possessing the proceeds of crime.

Khatib was 65 years old when he was charged in October 2017, after police searched his Inuvik home. Police said they found 500 grams of marijuana, 350 grams of cocaine and more than $25,000 in cash in various areas of the home, including about $260 stuffed inside a cut in a mattress.

The trial was supposed to begin last summer but was delayed as Khatib recovered from open heart surgery.

Four RCMP officers have testified as of Tuesday, with two of them appearing in court via video call. Khatib also is appearing in court this week by video call from Edmonton, where he lives.

Const. Mackenzie McGuffin testified Tuesday afternoon that he was part of surveillance operation and that he helped in the arrest and seizure of drugs and money from the home.

He said that there were two times where he was in an unmarked police car to watch Khatib's home leading up to the seizure. McGuffin told court that he and another officer saw five different people approach the home, then Khatib would open a window and exchange something by hand with the individuals.

McGuffin said that one person was dropped off by a cab before he "appeared to have a hand-to-hand exchange with Talal inside the window."

The vents

Police watched the house again on Oct. 19, 2017, the day before police arrested Khatib and searched his home, according to the agreed statement of facts from Crown Prosecutor Morgan Fane and defence lawyer Katherine Oja.

While executing the warrant, police also seized a piece of crack cocaine wrapped in paper that weighed 64 grams, an amount consistent with the amount usually intended for trafficking.

Officers also found various items including three cell phones and a small bottle of red and white pills along with money and cocaine.

Const. Todd Glemser and McGuffin said officers moved items out of a spare room during the search, until they found a vent in the floor. Inside the vent, they found what appeared to be crack cocaine in a paper towel, which was seized.

There was plywood and duct tape over areas of a different vent where officers found two plastic baby food bottles that McGuffin said contained a white substance that ended up being powdered cocaine.

Testimonies are set to continue Wednesday.

A history with police

Khatib has had a long history with police, stemming back to 2004 when he was charged with bootlegging. In 2008, he was charged with drug trafficking. Both times, the charges were either stayed or withdrawn.

In May 2016, Khatib was arrested and charged for drug trafficking after a search of his home, but the charges were again stayed.

After the most recent charges, the town of Inuvik wrote a letter to RCMP and Crown prosecutors asking that Khatib be barred from returning to Inuvik.

Khatib's lawyer at the time called the letter "scandalous and potentially defamatory."

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