Two members of the Kelowna chapter of the Hells Angels have pleaded not guilty to charges that they played a part in conspiracy to import hundreds of kilograms of cocaine into Canada.
Vice-president of the Kelowna chapter David Giles and sergeant at arms Bryan Oldham, are currently on trial in Vancouver with Hells Angels associates James Howard, Michael Read and Shawn Womacks.
The arrests came as part of a federal investigation that netted $4 million in alleged drug money.
The investigation, dubbed "E-PREDICATE," lasted more than 20 months and involved Canadian, U.S., Mexican and Panamanian law enforcement agencies.
It focused on the production of marijuana 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," RCMP Supt. Brian Cantera said in 2012.
In 2012, Giles, Read, Howard and Kevin Van Kalkeren were charged with conspiracy to import a controlled substance and conspiracy to traffic a controlled substance, while Oldham, Womacks, Orhan Saydam and Murray Trekofski were charged with possession for the purpose of trafficking a controlled substance.
Three of the eight have entered guilty pleas.
According to the Province newspaper, Crown counsel Chris Greenwood said in court Monday that Giles and Van Kalkeren were the principal negotiators in a plot to purchase more than 500 kilograms of cocaine for more than $14 million.
“Mr. Giles lent his name to the deal, including the fact that he was a Hells Angel, and he backed up Mr. Van Kalkeren in the negotiations and the deals,” Greenwood told B.C. Supreme Court Justice Carol Ross, the Province reported.
Crown counsel alleges the men were caught in a sting in which undercover RCMP officers met with conspirators in Canada, Mexico City and Panama.
Crown says the men planned to buy the cocaine in South America and distribute it throughout Canada.
In early 2008, Giles was acquitted on all charges regarding dealing cocaine for the benefit of, or in association with, a criminal organization. His co-accused, David Roger Revell and Richard Andrew Rempel were found guilty on the lesser charge of possession and trafficking cocaine.
The current trial is expected to run for several months.