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Couple charged with pot trafficking

Andrew Raven
Northern News Services

Fort Simpson (Mar 25/05) - A well-known Fort Simpson couple was charged with drug trafficking last week after police discovered more than 200 grams of pot and $5,000 in a home.

Arnold and Jacqueline Hope, 50 and 35 respectively, each face one count of possession of marijuana for the purpose of trafficking and possession of the proceeds of crime.

The pair was arrested Sunday evening after a police raid discovered the cache of drugs and money.

Heavily involved in band politics as a member of the Liidlii Kue and Dehcho First Nations, Arnold Hope finished third in the race for Nahendeh MLA in 2003 gaining 12 per cent of the popular vote.

He is currently a director on the Fort Simpson Housing Authority Board and was previously a director with the NWT Power Corporation until December of 2003.

Reached at his home Monday, Hope declined to discuss the charges.

"I have no comment. I just don't have any comment," he said.

The Hopes were each released on a $500 bond following their arrests and are scheduled to make an appearance in Territorial Court May 5, in Fort Simpson.

RCMP Const. Bruce Rice said the 203 grams of marijuana seized was enough to roll 900 joints. According to Drum estimates, the pot had a street value in the neighbourhood $6,000.

"The seizure itself was significant for a community this size and it certainly has had an impact," he said. The seizure was based on information provided to police by a confidential informant.

"The residents of Fort Simpson have expressed concerns about drugs in the community and the RCMP are responding to those concerns," he said. Rice encouraged anyone with information about the illegal drug trade in the village to contact police.

The police investigation is ongoing and Rice said there could be more charges laid against the Hopes in the future. While there is undoubtedly "someone higher up" in the distribution chain, it was unlikely anyone else would charged in connection with the operation, he said.

The seizure was the second major bust for Fort Simpson RCMP in the last three weeks.

On Feb. 25 they charged resident Floyd Browning with drug trafficking and possession of an illegal substance for the purpose of trafficking, Rice said.

While the police investigation continues, Rice said there was "nothing pointing towards" a link between the two operations.

Browning is also slated to appear in court May 5.