Opinion stories

KNIGHT: Police score wins in battle against drugs and organized crime, but the war is far from over

Organized crime is the biggest problem facing this country.

This week, police in B.C. scored two impressive victories in the Sisyphean task of drug enforcement and in the process laid open the reach of gangs and organized crime and the drug trade. 

The first occurred in Kamloops with the joint efforts of the Kamloops RCMP and the Combined Forces Special Enforcement Unit (CFSEU).

Police descended on the Sunshine Gardens Superstore in Kamloops, a business owned by Hells Angels associate Zale Coty who is also a member of the puppet gang Throttle Lockers formed in 2009. Police also searched two residences also believed to be owned by Coty.

Police spokesperson Cpl. Jodie Shelkie said in a release police seized “over $350,000 in Canadian currency, substantial amounts of illicit drugs including what is believed to be cocaine, methamphetamine, fentanyl and marijuana, a 40 calibre handgun with ammunition and various items relating to drug trafficking.”

Puppet gangs are formed by the Hells Angels to do the dirty work full patch members won’t touch. They handle the drugs, money and often weapons as evidenced by what police found in their searches of Coty’s business and residences. But make no mistake, the Hells Angels’ fingerprints are all over this case. 

Coty was also close to full patch member of the Hardside chapter Chad Wilson who was found murdered under the Golden Ears bridge in November 2018. No one has been charged with that murder and speculation is that it was the result of a settling of scores within the club. 

Coty posted many photos of himself with Hells Angels members on his Facebook page, but the page was taken down after the searches and his arrest this week.

The other significant announcement was by the RCMP in the Fraser Valley who told us about the take-down of a dope-dealing ring run by a street gang called the Brothers Keepers (sic). Like the Hells Angels, grammar and punctuation is not their strong suit.

Chilliwack RCMP’s Crime Reduction Unit started its investigation into a local dial-a-dope trafficking ring and quickly learned it was tied to other rings in multiple jurisdictions. 

With the assistance of the Vancouver Police Department’s Organized Crime Unit, they executed several search warrants and “drugs believed to be fentanyl, cash, cell phones, paraphernalia consistent with drug trafficking, and clothing linking the Brothers Keepers crime group to the illegal operation were seized,” said spokesperson RCMP Cpl. Mike Rail.

This is a win, but unfortunately in the great scheme of things, it won’t make a dent in the problem. 

Despite the chatter of the hand-wringers about an ‘opioid crisis’ on our streets, people are still dying and the police struggle to take down rings such as these. But to understand the problem, Coty is just one guy who was in the orbit of a full patch Hells Angel and there are approximately 120 full patch Hells Angels in the province of British Columbia alone. 

Add to that street gangs like Brothers Keepers, United Nations, Red Scorpions and then add in Vietnamese gangs and the more than a thousand Asian Organized Crime (AOC) gangsters in B.C. And that’s before we talk about traditional organized crime (TOC) like the mafia who operate throughout Canada. 

At the turn of the century, I wrote that organized crime is the biggest problem facing this country. Despite the terror attacks of 9/11, I still stand by that statement. It’s a huge problem and full marks to the police who keep up the good fight and win the occasional battle.

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