Vernon's 'Greeks' Dismantled

It was a parade of drug and murder suspects at the Kelowna courthouse Monday following last weekend's big organized crime bust in Vernon.

RCMP figure they've taken down an organized crime group called the ‘Greeks’ that allegedly controlled the flow of cocaine and heroin in the North Okanagan. A total of 10 people have been charged including women. Some are also accused of murder and manslaughter. All of them made brief court appearances Monday with their supporters in the gallery.

Andre Robert George Raymond, Dale Gordon Sipes, Leslie Podolski and Sheldon Richard O'Donnell are charged with the first degree murder of David Barry Marniuk.

Marniuk, 45, went missing in August 2004 and several months ago, police put out an appeal to information leading to his body as they were convinced he was the victim of foul play. It's not clear if his body has been found now that murder charges have been laid in connection with his death.

In a strange twist, several months ago media reports suggested there may be a link between Marniuk's disappearance and Eric Fish. Fish is charged with the death of a Vernon senior killed during a home invasion last year. It was later learned that Fish had a fridge magnet in his storage locker with Marniuk's name on it. Police insisted there was no link between the two men.

Marniuk's death is also linked to last year's extensive search of a Vernon warehouse that has links to the Hells Angels. The place on Fairweather Road is owned by Zenon Stepkowski whom police confirm is an associate of the Calgary chapter of the Hells Angels. He has not been charged with anything. Police were also hoping a search of the warehouse might shed some clues leading to the disappearance of Falkland resident Stanley Wade Polak. Police believe Polak was also the victim of foul play and his body has yet to be found.

In fact, there are five other murders linked to Vernon's drug trade in the past two years. All remain unsolved.

Police say the “Greeks” have links to the Hells Angels and the alleged ring leader of the group is Peter Manolakos. The 38-year-old owns a pizzeria in Vernon – a place police alleged was being used as a ‘front’ for his drug business. Manolakos is charged with manslaughter in connection with Marniuk’s murder. He’s also facing drug charges.

RCMP stress the Hells Angels are not implicated in any of the homicides under investigation in the Vernon area.

Vernon RCMP are holding a special news conference Tuesday and are expected to release more details now that charges have been laid.

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