A former cab driver nabbed by police after illegally selling alcohol to a 17-year-old passenger in Iqaluit has been sentenced to 30 days in jail and fined $10,000.
Gabriel Martinez, who pleaded guilty to charges of bootlegging, imported 265 sixty-ounce bottles of alcohol into Nunavut between April 1 and June 23, 2020.
The large quantity of liquor resulted in authorities with the Nunavut liquor permitting system alerting the police, who began surveillance of Martinez. On June 23, the RCMP caught the offender selling a single sixty-ounce bottle of vodka to a 17-year-old male passenger for $180.
The police later obtained search warrants for Martinez’s home and vehicle and seized $5,270 as proceeds of crime. That amount was applied to the fine imposed by the court on March 16.
The Crown and defence lawyers estimated that Martinez made a profit of $25,725 from his bootlegging activities.
“There is no doubt that Mr. Martinez was running a business and benefitting substantially from the illegal sale of alcohol to anyone willing to pay his price,” stated Justice Bonnie Tulloch. “The exorbitant price charged causes substantial heartbreak, impoverishment, and danger to the people of Iqaluit.”
Martinez, who had no previous criminal record, came to Iqaluit in September 2019. Although he lost his job as a cab driver after he was criminally charged, he has been steadily employed since arriving and he sends a good portion of the money he makes to his family in Cuba, according to the court.
“I feel really, really ashamed to be in the news and the court right now. I really regret what I did and am really, really sorry,” he told the court.
The maximum fine he could have faced for this first offence was $25,000, in addition to up to one year in jail.
“Mr. Martinez, I sincerely hope that you have learned your lesson, but more importantly that you have a much better understanding of how wrong your actions were,” Tulloch stated. “It is impossible to know or to quantify the amount of damage caused by bootlegging in Nunavut, but the certainty is that it is substantial. I accept your remorse and hope that I never see you in court again.”