Cocaine, cash and the Hells Angels
The RCMP confirmed Monday that the raid on the Hells Angels clubhouse in Kelowna was only the tip of the iceberg.
The raid was connected to a series of simultaneous raids held throughout the province and involved an international coalition of enforcement officers.
At a press conference held in Vancouver Monday afternoon, they announced that senior members of the Hells Angels are facing charges for conspiracy to import and traffic 500 kg of cocaine.
The arrests came as part of a significant Federal Drug Enforcement Branch led investigation which netted $4 million in alleged drug money.
The investigation, dubbed "E-PREDICATE," lasted more than 20 months and was helped by contributions from RCMP Detachments and specialized units throughout the Southeast District, various US law enforcement agencies, the Mexican Federal Police and Panamanian authorities.
The investigation focused on allegations that marijuana was being produced to fund the importation of cocaine to Canada.
"This investigation demonstrated how organized criminal groups engaged in drug trafficking have no respect for municipal, provincial or international borders," says Superintendent Brian Cantera, Officer in Charge of the RCMP Drug Enforcement Branch in BC.
"More concerning is the complete disregard these groups show for Canadian families and public safety, both of which pay the devastating price exacted for criminal profits."
David Giles, Kevin Van Kalkeren, Michael Read and James Howard have been charged with Conspiracy to Import a Controlled Substance and Conspiracy to Traffic a Controlled Substance and were scheduled to make their first appearance in BC Supreme Court on Monday August 27.
Giles is well known to police as the Vice President of the Kelowna Hells Angels Chapter. The clubhouse was one of five locations secured and searched by the RCMP Sunday afternoon.
Orhan Saydam, Murray Trekofski, and Shawn Womacks have been charged with Possession for the Purpose of Trafficking a Controlled Substance and will be slated to be in Provincial Court on Monday as well.
An eighth man is facing arrest in the case, but remains at large.
Brian Oldham is charged with Possession for the Purpose of Trafficking a Controlled Substance and a Canada-wide warrant has been issued for his arrest.
The RCMP is requesting anyone with knowledge of his whereabouts to contact their local police or Crimestoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS (8477).
"This investigation clearly demonstrates the international and domestic capabilities of the RCMP when the full weight of the organization is brought to bear," says RCMP Assistant Commissioner Wayne Rideout, Organized Crime and Investigative Services.
"I want to personally congratulate all of the many men and women who worked tirelessly and under pressure to deliver on behalf of all Canadians.
Serious and Organized criminal groups will continue to be the primary focus of the RCMP Federal resources across Canada, as will the commitment to work in close cooperation with Provincial and Municipal partners towards Public Safety."
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