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Three years for 856 'enforcer'
Mid-level dealer with gang pleaded guilty to trafficking charges, sentenced last week

Shane Magee
Northern News Services
Friday, April 22, 2016

A 24-year-old man was sentenced to 4.5 years in prison Friday for trafficking cocaine after a judge ruled Friday he is a member of the notorious 856 gang.

Joshua Petten of Surrey, B.C., had pleaded guilty to possessing cocaine for trafficking but refused to admit he was a member of an organized criminal group that has been the subject of multiple RCMP investigations in the city.

Territorial court Judge Bernadette Schmaltz credited him with 14 months for the nine months he has already served in pre-trial custody, meaning his actual prison sentence amounts to 40.5 months.

The 856 gang originates in the B.C. Lower Mainland and is named after a phone area code where it began.

Petten had only said the members were just a group of friends, laughing and snickering at the idea they were a gang during a police interview.

That meant evidence was presented from RCMP during a hearing to establish his links to the gang, including the tattoos he has that are a ranking system for the group.

Schmaltz told the court that according to RCMP testimony, drug runners have an "8" lip tattoo. Managers have "85," and a person who "runs" a city has "856." Petten has an "85," among other tattoos elsewhere on his body. She referred to an earlier report that called Petten an "enforcer" for the gang.

"I am satisfied beyond a reasonable doubt," Schmaltz said about his involvement with the criminal group.

She decried the impact drug dealing, particularly cocaine, has on the community and said his sentence must serve as an example that trafficking is not acceptable.

She said it's hard to imagine what attracts people to the lifestyle, suggesting that most people are blind to the consequences of getting caught.

"Something has to make him realize the harm he is causing by being a member of a criminal organization," Schmaltz said.

Petten was sentenced to 18 months in jail in May 2014 after he brought a loaded handgun into downtown Yellowknife bars.

He was among six charged last July as police cracked down on the 856 gang. Court records indicate he is one of the last to be dealt with from that group of drug searches and arrests.

Justin Pelletier of Langley, B.C. was sentenced in March to possession of property obtained by crime. Possession and trafficking charges were withdrawn. He was sentenced to 347 days in jail but was released with credit for time served in pre-trial custody.

Jesse Maley of Langley was sentenced to a year in jail but will also serve a reduced sentence because of the time he spent in custody awaiting trial. A charge of possession of a weapon (knives) for a dangerous purpose was withdrawn.

The judge noted both Maley and Pelletier admitted their membership in the 856 gang..

Charges against Caitlin Larsen and Jacob Feldman were withdrawn.

Dennis Foster of Yellowknife is set for a preliminary inquiry May 4 on charges of trafficking cocaine and possession of a weapon (knives) for a dangerous purpose.

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