Eight alleged UN Gang members to go directly to trial
A group of alleged B.C. gangsters accused of plotting to kill leaders of a rival gang in a bloody drug turf war won't get a preliminary hearing, a spokesman for the Crown says.
Neil MacKenzie of the B.C. Criminal Justice Branch said Tuesday the prosecution will proceed by direct indictment against the men who police say are members of the United Nations Gang.
They will go directly to trial in B.C. Supreme Court.
The eight -- three who were already in custody and four of five others arrested in the last few days -- are charged with conspiring to murder brothers Jonathan, James and Jarrod Bacon.
Police say the Bacon brothers are leaders of the Red Scorpions, who've been feuding with the UN Gang over what investigators say is a struggle to control a shrinking but still lucrative supply of drugs coming north into Canada.
There have been about two dozen fatal shootings in the Metro Vancouver area so far this year. Police have called them gang-related.
Barzan Tilli-Choli, Karwan Saed, Aram Ali, Soroush Ansari, Dilun Heng, Daniel Russell, Yong Sung John Lee and John William Croitoru face one count each of conspiracy to commit murder.
Heng remains at large, wanted on a Canada-wide warrant. Police say he is considered armed and dangerous.
It's the second time in a week the Crown has opted for direct indictment in a major gang case.
It's also being used against alleged Red Scorpions James Bacon, Cody Haevischer and Matthew Johnston, charged with murder in the 2007 killing of six people in a suburban Surrey apartment.
Four of the victims had suspected gang ties but two were bystanders caught in the wrong place at the wrong time.
MacKenzie gave no reasons for using direct indictment.
"We don't discuss specifics," he said in an interview Tuesday.
He pointed to Crown counsel policy guidelines for using the procedure.
The guidelines include the danger of physical or psychological harm to witnesses, logistical problems or complexity that might create delays that go against the public interest, the need to protect an informant's identity or the security of ongoing police investigations.
Even without a preliminary hearing, evidence must still be disclosed to the defence and could face challenges at pre-trial hearings before an actual trial begins.
MacKenzie said the decision to use direct indictment in the two cases does not signal a policy for all major gang files.
"Each one is decided on a case-by-case basis," he said.
The Crown's application must be approved by B.C.'s deputy attorney general, MacKenzie added.
With files by The Canadian Press