It was like a scene out of the movie: Maria Full of Grace – about a Colombian teen swallows condoms full of cocaine to smuggle to the U.S.
Only this was a real scenario that recently played out at Vancouver International Airport.
A man was arrested as a suspected drug trafficker April 26. He had swallowed 42 cocaine-filled condoms before trying to fly to Australia.
The Canada Border Services Agency released a few details about what happened, but not the man’s identity. He has not yet been charged.
Alert border guards suspected something was up with the traveller. Questionning the man further, it became apparent he had swallowed drugs.
Here’s our story:
Vancouver Police are investigating possible links between a shooting and double stabbing at two East Vancouver locations hours apart.
Const. Brian Montague said VPD responded to the 5200 block of Dumfries Street about 1 am Friday after 911 calls about gun shots in the area.
“A short time later, a 26 year old Surrey resident arrived at hospital with a non-life threatening gun shot wound,: Montague said in a release.
“Earlier in the evening, just before 9:00 p.m., a 17 and 19 year old were transported to hospital with stab wounds.”
He said both stabbing victims claimed their attacks took place in the in the 4700 block of Slocan St. The older teen has since been released from hospital.
“Investigators believe both incidents are connected and do not feel these attacks were random,” Montague said. “There are no suspects in custody.”
Anyone with information about either of these incidents is asked to contact the VPD investigators at 604-717-2541.
It has been almost nine years since Marc Rozen (picture above) was shot to death in his West End apartment after advertising an expensive engagement ring for sale at a bargain price.
And finally the Vancouver trial is beginning for the United Nations gangster accused of killing him.
Since Rozen’s death, Michael Bruce Newman has been convicted in Ontario on drug and gun charges. He was charged with first-degree murder in April 2009, while serving his Ontario sentence. And while at Kent, he was beaten up in August 2011.
The 43-year-old is now back in court, looking very thin and pale.
The Crown’s opening in the judge-alone case goes ahead this afternoon.
Here’s my story on the voir dire ruling delivered by Justice William Ehrcke this morning:
A statement given by a United Nations gang member to Ontario police in 2007 cannot be admitted at his Vancouver murder trial because his Charter rights were violated, a B.C. Supreme Court judge has ruled. Justice William Ehrcke said that a detective with York Regional Police lied to gangster Michael Newman about being a suspect in the 2004 slaying of Vancouver resident Marc Rozen. Ehrcke noted that Newman told the detective in the April 2, 2007 interview that he would want a lawyer present if he was being charged or investigated for murder, but that the officer claimed Newman was only facing drug and weapons charges at the time. Ehrcke said the detective made a “deliberate and considered decision to mislead Mr. Newman.” “This was a serious breach of Mr. Newman’s rights,” Ehrcke said, adding that the statements admission at trial “would bring the administration of justice into disrepute.” But Ehrcke admitted into evidence another statement Newman gave police on March 30, 2007, claiming he had drugs, two firearms and a silencer in an apartment he was renting in Vaughan, Ontario. Ehrcke’s rulings on the statements came after a three-week “voir dire” or trial within a trial. Crown Geordie Proulx is expected to give his opening address in the first-degree murder case this afternoon. Newman, 43, is charged with fatally shooting Rozen at his West End apartment in January 2004. Rozen, who gave up his law practice to work with troubled youth, had advertised an $18,000 engagement ring for sale for $8,900. Police believe robbery was the motive for the murder. Newman was arrested in March 2007 in a mall parking lot after York Regional Police witnessed three men in two SUVs exchanging three heavy suitcases for a silver briefcase. The suitcases turned out to contain ecstasy and cocaine, while the briefcase carried $220,000. Newman gave police a false name and tried to escape, before being arrested on drug charges. When York Regional Police learned his real identity, they saw the entry in the CPIC computer about him being a suspect in the Rozen homicide. In the April 2, 2007 statement, Newman “mentioned the Independent Soliders and the Bacon brothers” and told police he was in Ontario because “there are contracts out on all of us,” Ehrcke said. And he admitted to carrying a “45” most of the time he lived in B.C. Newman was finally charged in the Rozen murder in April 2009 while serving a sentence for the drugs and guns he possessed in Ontario. At the time of the charge, Vancouver police said they had linked Newman to DNA found at Rozen’s murder scene. Newman, looking thing and pale, wore a dark suit and white shirt in court. Rozen’s parents sat in the first row behind him in the high-security courtroom. Newman’s trial is continuing next door to the high-profile case involving six men linked to the UN gang who are charged with conspiring to murder the Bacon brothers.
Nine suspected drug traffickers linked to organized crime have been arrested in Kamloops afer an eight-month undercover investigation.
Kamloops RCMP announced Thursday that all nine are expected to face charges related to trafficking and to committing their offences for the benefit of an organized crime group.
S.Sgt. Grant Learned said in a news release that the investigation has “shut down an organized criminal dial a dope operation in Kamloops and dismantled the main supplier of cocaine to that group.”
He said the probe, dubbed Project Enocturnal began last February after police got intelligence about the crime group setting up a dial-a-dope line for cocaine in Kamloops.
The local group has links to a Lower Mainland gang, Learned said, though didn’t identify which one.
“The group was mobile and would orchestrate the sale of cocaine at the street level via orders received via telephone communication,” he said. “The group was well organized, was trafficking large amounts of cocaine (close to 1 kilogram) on a monthly basis and were profiting on the addiction created by the sale of this illegal drug.”
The drug line served recreational cocaine users who were spending upwards of $1000 per month on cocaine.
Undercover police infiltrating the drug line and made 20 coke purchases.
“During the course of the investigation, an authorization to intercept private communications, including text messages, was granted and the investigative team began to monitor the private communications of two persons associated to the group and the drug line itself,” Learned said.
“Through different investigative techniques, all the individuals associated to this group were identified including the purchasers, distributors and the main cocaine supplier who is a Kamloops resident.”
Police also executed five search warrants and seized
During the later part of the investigation 5 seized more than a kilo of cocaine, $142,000 cash, a cocaine pressing kit, bullet proof vests and two rifles, a handgun, sawed off gun barrel and ammunition.
All those arrested are between 20 and 40. Their names won’t be released until they make first appearances.
It was third time lucky Monday for convicted cocaine trafficker Jean Gaetan Gingras.
In September, B.C. Court of Appeal Chief Justice Lance Finch denied him bail pending an appeal of his drug conviction, saying to release Gingras would diminish the public’s confidence in the administration of justice.
Again last month, five other appeal court judges agreed with Finch and denied Gingras bail a second time.
But on Monday, Gingras, 70, was released on bail by another appeal court judge, just in time for Christmas.
The fact that Gingras got three attempts in front of the same court to get out of jail until his April appeal frustrates Liberal MLA Dave Hayer, whose journalist father Tara was the target of an attempted bombing by Gingras in 1986. Gingras has never been charged in connection to the plot.
“I am really upset by this,” Dave Hayer said Tuesday. “We have heard over and over again how some of these criminals really know how to manipulate the system.”
Hayer said the courts appear to place the rights of criminals before the rights of victims.
“I have been raising this issue for a long time. Things need to change,” Hayer said.
Gingras was convicted last March of conspiracy to purchase cocaine and money laundering. He was sentenced in August to 10 years in jail.
The drug case stemmed from an undercover RCMP investigation into several attempts on the life of Tara Singh Hayer, who was murdered on Nov. 18, 1998. Hayer, who had helped police in the Air India investigation, was also paralyzed in a 1988 shooting.
During a 2008 police probe, Gingras admitted to a Mountie posing as a South American drug smuggler that he was hired to place a bomb outside Hayer’s Surrey newspaper office in January 1986 by a Montreal man linked to the Babbar Khalsa terrorist group.
Gingras told the cop the bomb was meant to send a message to Hayer. He also denied having anything to do with Hayer’s murder.
The conversation, like 80 per cent of those captured on intercepts during the investigation, was in English.
Gingras, a francophone originally from Montreal, is now appealing his convictions, claiming he was entitled to a trial in French. He also claims he only understood 30 per of what was said during the B.C. Supreme Court proceedings, despite the fact that he had a French interpreter throughout the trial and often chatted on breaks in English.
The Crown argued that Gingras never requested a trial in French, nor complained during the proceedings that he couldn’t understand. He is now saying that his former lawyer, Karen Bastow, gave him misleading advice about having a French trial.
The first two appeal court rulings said that Gingras’ grounds of appeal are not likely to succeed.
“The appellant has been convicted of serious offences and has received a sentence of 10 years imprisonment,” Chief Justice Finch said in his Sept. 5 ruling. “I consider none of the grounds of appeal advanced to be strong. On balance, I consider that public confidence in the administration of justice could well be diminished if bail were to be granted.”
The second appeal court ruling on Nov. 20 said “Gingras has some difficult hurdles to overcome. His prospects for success are far from certain.”
The new bail hearing was granted after Bastow swore out an affidavit about Gingras’ difficulty understanding English, as well as his hearing problems. The affidavit was considered new information and bail was granted.
The Integrated Homicide Investigation Team has confirmed that a man found dead in New Westminster Wednesday was in fact murdered.
And IHIT has identified the victim as 32-year-old Sam Balani, who was shot to death about 6:15 am in his basement suite in the 500-block of Colby Street.
“Investigators have been processing the crime scene overnight and in to the day and can say this suspicious death has been confirmed as a targeted homicide,” Sgt. Jennifer Pound said in a news release.
She said no one has been arrested. Investigators are asking anyone with information to contact the IHIT tip line at 1-877-551-IHIT(4448) or email email@example.com
Five men connected to a ruthless drug gang known as the Greeks have been convicted of three brutal slayings around Vernon after B.C.’s longest-ever jury trial.
A B.C. Supreme Court jury deliberated for a record 12 days before coming back just after noon Sunday to announce the verdict.
The 11 jurors found Peter Manolakos, Dale Sipes, Leslie Podolski, Sheldon O’Donnell and Douglas Brownell guilty for their roles in killing three men who had run-ins with the Greeks gang just before their deaths.
David Barry Marniuk, who delivered drugs for the Greeks, was beaten to death with a baseball bat, a hammer and a blowtorch because he had taken off with some cash and the gang’s cell phone in the middle of a shift in the summer of 2004.
Both Sipes and Podolski were found guilty of the first-degree murder of Marniuk. O’Donnell was convicted of second-degree and Manolakos was convicted of manslaughter in Marniuk’s death.
Thomas Edward Bryce was a rival drug trafficker fighting the Greeks for turf when he was also beaten with a wooden bat, then stomped, at a popular beach near Vernon in November 2004. He died 17 days later in hospital.
O’Donnell was convicted of second-degree murder in Bryce’s death, while the jury found Brownell guilty of manslaughter.
Ronald James Thom was shot to death on May 31, 2005 because Manolakos heard Thom may have provided police with information about the Greeks criminal activity.
Sipes, O’Donnell and Manolakos were convicted of the Thom’s first-degree murder, while Brownell was convicted of manslaughter.
Justice Bill Smart said the killers will be brought back to court Thursday for sentencing.
The four convicted of first-degree murder will receive an automatic life sentence with no parole eligibility for 25 years, while Smart will have to rule on Brownell’s term for two manslaughter convictions.
Smart thanked the jury for their service through 18 months of evidence, weeks of closing arguments and his own instructions, as well as 12 long days of deliberations.
Crown David Jardine, one of the senior prosecutors on the case, also expressed gratitude for the jurors’ commitment.
“We are extremely pleased and full of admiration for the work that the jury put in in18 months of service that’s over and above the call of duty,” Jardine said. “We are full of appreciation for the work that the jury put it.”
Some of the controversial key Crown witnesses at the trial cannot be named because of publication bans on any information that could identify them.
Defence lawyers for the accused attacked the credibility of the Crown witnesses, saying some of them were killers with lengthy criminal histories.
Crown lawyers said that despite the criminal records of some of the witnesses, jurors should not reject any of their testimony in its entirety.
Smart began his six-day charge to the jury on Nov. 7. The jury started their deliberations on Nov. 14 and generally met from 9:30 am to 7:30 p.m. with a one break for lunch.
Jurors heard that Manolakos led the deadly gang, named after his Greek heritage. Sipes, Podolski and O’Donnell were senior gang members, while Brownell was an associate who did drug deals with the Greeks.
Manolakos provided gold rings and vests to his members, who also had a tattoo of the word “ema” – which means “blood” in Greek – as well as the omega symbol.
And jurors heard that the Greeks had different ranks within the organization, including “runners” like Marniuk who worked the drug lines at the street level, “bankers” who would supply drugs to the runners and collect the profits, and “enforcers” who would mete out punishment to those who broke the Greeks’ rules.
They also listened to testimony of gruesome evidence about how Marniuk’s battered remains were taken out to a remote spot and set on fire. A former gang member testified that Manolakos wanted Thom’s bullet-ridden body left on a Vernon street as a warning to others not to cross the Greeks.
More than 100 Crown witnesses testified at the trial, which was held in the special high-security courtroom built for the Air India bombing case. Twenty-five lawyers were involved in the historic trial.
The RCMP put together a special task force to look into the gang’s activities in 2004 and 2005, resulting in arrests and charges in May 2006.
While jurors heard evidence in three murders, Greek gang members are also suspects in four other slayings in the north Okanagan.
At the time of their arrests in May 2006, police said the Greeks were major players in the drug trade in the Okanagan and also had tentacles that reached to Grande Prairie, Edmonton, Vancouver and other cities. The Greeks also had links to the Hells Angels.
A Vernon lawyer connected to the Greeks is due to go to trial in January on criminal organization charges.
Abbotsford Police announced Monday that officers had made a record seizure of cocaine over the weekend. In a news release, Const. Ian MacDonald said the department’s patrol division came upon a man in a parking lot in the 2000 block of Clearbrook Road about 7:45 am Saturday.
He was in possession of two medium-sized duffle bags, which had padlocks on them.
When police asked him about the bags, he was unable to explain why they had the locks on them
“A search of those bags revealed numerous packaged bricks of what is suspected to be approximately 60 kilograms of cocaine,” MacDonald said.
The 24-year old was arrested for possession for the purposes of trafficking. The investigation is continuing.
“This represents the largest cocaine seizure in the department’s history,” MacDonald said.
NOTE: I was off Monday and skiiing and NOT on this blog, so am just going through comments now.
And this CP story about the Asian crime boss was really fascinating. Hopefully I can cover the immigration hearing later this month.
A Surrey substitute teacher has been suspended after being charged with possession for the purpose of trafficking and trafficking.
Eugenio Alfonso Bahamonde, 41, will next be in court on the charges Jan. 16.
Richmond RCMP Cpl. Sherrdean Turley said that Mounties witnessed what they believed was a hand-to-hand drug transaction near an elementary school in Vancouver Nov. 7 while working on an unrelated property crime investigation.
“A vehicle approached the area at which time the plainclothes officers watched as the driver of the vehicle appeared to make a drug transaction with a pedestrian. The driver was also seen smoking what appeared to be a marijuana cigarette,” Turley said in a release. “The vehicle drove away & was pulled over in a neighboring parking lot where the driver was arrested & issued a 24 hour driving prohibition. A search incidental to arrest revealed marijuana and evidence of drug trafficking.”
Bahamonde told police he was a teacher as they were arresting him.
Richmond RCMP is updating information about the woman shot in a local tattoo parlour Friday night.
Sgt. Cam Kowalski told the Richmond News that the woman, who is recovering in hospital, was an innocent victim and not the target of the shooting at the Floating World Tattoo Parlor about 8 pm Friday.
Fortunately it looks like she will be okay. Police are always saying it is only a matter of time before more innocent bystanders are caught in Metro Vancouver’s gun violence. Now it looks like we have someone who was just out patronizing a local business who is now dealing with serious injuries.
Here’s the story: