Vernon man among 7 charged in big drug bust connected to Hells Angels

Drug ring spanned BC

A Vernon man is among seven charged in a large-scale drug investigation that resulted in the seizure of two kilos of cocaine and $650,000 in cash, along with other drugs and weapons.

The Combined Forces Special Enforcement Unit of British Columbia says the bust resulted in the seizure of firearms, various drugs, and 25 charges, including against a full-patch member of the Hells Angels Haney Chapter.

The investigation began in early 2020 and "quickly led investigators to believe the individuals involved were suspects in an alleged large-scale, drug trafficking operation on behalf of a criminal organization that spanned the Lower Mainland and Okanagan," says Sgt. Brenda Winpenny.

Vernon's Oakley Charest, 34, is charged with trafficking a controlled substance for a criminal organization, conspiracy to traffic a controlled substance, trafficking a controlled substance, possession of a prohibited weapon, two counts of possession of a restricted firearm with ammunition, and possession of a firearm while prohibited contrary to a court order.

Between September 2020 and July 2021, a total of 12 search warrants were executed at locations throughout the Lower Mainland and Okanagan.

Police seized approximately $650,000, two kilos of cocaine, one kilo of MDMA, one kilo of fentanyl, 200 grams of ketamine, 10 kilos of marijuana, along with 16 kilos of cutting agent.

A 9-mm handgun, .45 calibre handgun, prohibited SKS rifle magazines, three rifles, a shot gun, other prohibited magazines, and ammunition were also seized, as were body armour, two vehicles, and a cocaine press.

A Hells Angels Motorcycle Club vest and various items of Hells Angels support clothing were also found in one of the raids.

Charges of directing a criminal organization and others were also approved on Tuesday against Jonathan Lutar, 39, of Vancouver.

Also charged were Courtney Lafreniere, 41, of Maple Ridge, Matthew Shaw, 31, of Tsawwassen, Allan Arcangel, 51, of Vancouver, Roman Tassone, 28, of Vancouver, and Lukas Tassone, 34, of Vancouver.

Arrest warrants have been issued for Roman and Lukas Tassone.

The other five have been arrested and released on conditions as they await the court process.

“This investigation resulted in the seizure of potentially deadly drugs, firearms, and disruption of a sophisticated drug trafficking operation securing a number of significant criminal charges,” says Assistant Commissioner Manny Mann, Chief Officer for CFSEU-BC.

More Vernon News