An accused Kelowna drug trafficker is once again back behind bars.
Jason Keehn, one of five men charged in a massive Kelowna drug bust back in October 2020, has been taken back into custody after he jumped bail earlier this month and remained on the lam for three weeks. This is the fourth time a warrant has been issued for his arrest in this matter.
The five men were arrested about three years after the Kelowna RCMP's Project E-Precedent investigation targeted the Lower Mainland-based Red Scorpion gang's alleged drug trafficking in the region.
The large investigation involved 15 search warrants at homes and businesses around the Kelowna area in 2017 and 2018. Police said they seized 5.5 kilograms of fentanyl and carfentanil, 3 kilograms of methamphetamine, 1.5 kilograms of cocaine, as well as GHB, ecstasy, and other pharmaceutical drugs in the bust. They also said they found a Mac-10 sub-machine gun, two semi-automatic 9-mm handguns, a .45-caliber handgun, a .38-caliber handgun, other semi-automatic rifles and long guns, and over $130,000 in Canadian cash.
As a result of the investigation, 37-year-old Keehn is facing two drug trafficking charges, four possession for the purpose of trafficking charges and 10 weapons charges. All offences are alleged to have occurred in December 2017.
Keehn failed to show up to his court date on March 3 and a warrant was issued for his arrest. That warrant remained in place until last week, when he was re-arrested. On March 24, Judge Lynett Jung issued a detention order for Keehn, and he remains in custody.
Keehn's next court appearance is set for June 19, when a preliminary inquiry will be held in Kelowna court. A preliminary inquiry is held in particularly serious cases, where the Crown will present its evidence before the court and a judge will determine if there is sufficient evidence for it to proceed to a Supreme Court trial.
Keehn missed his very first court date on the matter back in November 2020, but he was arrested and granted bail in late December of that year. More than a year later, he once again failed show up to a voir dire appearance on Feb. 1, 2022 and a warrant was again issued. He was taken back into custody and then released again on Feb. 22, 2022.
He pulled his third no-show on April 11 of last year, but he was re-arrested two days later. Once again, the Crown consented to his release and he was granted bail again.
“If you don't follow the conditions, you could get arrested and be charged with a breach. If you don't come to court when you're required to, you could get arrested and you could be charged with a failing to appear charge,” Judge Monica McParland told Keehn last April.
But according to online court records, it appears Keehn has not been charged with any failing to appear charges.
In March 2022, the Crown stayed charges against Keehn's co-accused, Jonathan Sierra, although it's not known why. Another man charged in the Project E-Precedent investigation, Benjamin Bridger pleaded guilty in August 2021 to possession for the purpose of trafficking and possessing a prohibited firearm. He was given a three-year suspended sentence, which allowed him to serve his sentence out of custody.
Nikolas Parisee, another of the five accused, also struck a plea deal with the Crown in February 2021 and was handed two years of probation.
Travis Cumming, who's facing four charges of possession for the purpose of trafficking and one firearm charge, was scheduled to face trial in February 2023, but the trial was delayed. New trial dates have yet to be set.
While police said Project E-Precedent targeted the Red Scorpion gang, they did not say if any of those who were charged were allegedly affiliated with the gang.