Hells Angel, convicted killer charged in high-profile gang executions
Two more men – one of whom has been identified as a member of the Hells Angels – are facing charges in connection with the brazen public executions of two high-profile gang members in Metro Vancouver.
The arrests were announced almost exactly six years after Sandip Duhre was shot repeatedly at a window table in Bar One, a busy restaurant in the Wall Centre hotel. The 36-year-old victim was identified as a former associate of the infamous Bacon brothers and an ally of the United Nations gang.
The Wall Centre shooting came just a few months after a gang ambush in Kelowna that killed Red Scorpions gang leader Jonathan Bacon and injured Hells Angel Larry Amero.
Police announced Thursday that Amero had been charged with one count of conspiracy to commit Duhre's murder.
He faces a similar charge in connection with the November 2012 shooting death of Sukhveer (Sukh) Dhak, also a UN gang ally. Dhak and his bodyguard, Thomas Mantel, were fatally shot at a Burnaby hotel in front of shocked staff members.
Amero was arrested in Ottawa, and will remain in custody until being transported to B.C. to face charges.
Police said Friday that Amero could face further charges as the investigation continues.
"Murder investigations involving pre-planning and conspiracy and multiple suspects involved in gang and organized crime activity often take longer because of the sophistication of the criminals," Supt. Mike Porteous said.
Charges against another Ontario resident, 32-year-old Dean Michael Wiwchar, were also announced Thursday. Wiwchar has been charged with the murder of Duhre, and conspiracy to commit the murder of Dahk.
Wiwchar made headlines the year of the shootings when he was arrested in connection to the death of a Toronto man gunned down in a café in Little Italy. Sources told CTV News at the time that the Vancouver police were investigating him in connection with targeted gangland shootings, but did not say which cases he may have been linked to.
He was found guilty in the death of John Raposo in May of last year.
Also guilty in that case was Rabih (Robby) Alkhalil, a man who faces a first-degree murder charge in Duhre's death in Vancouver.
"These are national-level tactical targets for police, national threats, so it was a cross-country partnership that went on for many, many years," Porteous said.
Vancouver police said the arrests mean they now have all major suspects in the murders.
A member of the province's Combined Forces Special Enforcement Unit – an integrated team tasked with dismantling organized crime – said the time of the shootings was marked by years of tit-for-tat shootings and murders.
The escalation in violence began around the murder of Dhak's brother Gurmit, and essentially had two sides. On one was the "Wolfpack," made up of Hells Angels, Red Scorpions and Independent Soldiers, and on the other was the UN gang, Dhak brothers and Duhre group.
There were many high-profile incidents and arrests, some of which are still playing out in court, CFSEU's Lindsey Houghton said.
And Houghton added that it's unlikely the charges announced Thursday will have much impact on the gang landscape, as Amero was in custody in Quebec until recently but managed to remain involved and relevant.
At a press conference in Ottawa Friday, police told reporters they believe Amero had been establishing himself in the drug trade there with the Hells Angels since his release from prison.
Earlier in the week, Vancouver Police Chief Const. Adam Palmer made reference to a turf war involving the Red Scorpions and United Nations when addressing the death of a 15-year-old caught in the crossfire.
Alfred Wong was hit by a stray bullet while riding in the back of his parents' car, and died in a Vancouver hospital two days later.
"We haven't seen gang violence like this probably in the last 10 years," he told reporters Monday. "We've got several groups that are at odds with one another and they're going out and killing each other."
Porteous says the current gang conflict in Metro Vancouver likely stems from the historic turf war between the UN Gang and Red Scorpions.
“Current people we believe are involved in gang conflict now, we believe are associated to those groups, but are a younger generation,” Porteous explained. “Many of the people in those original groups have either been the victims of homicide or have been incarcerated.”
Former Solicitor General Kash Heed says the latest charges and arrests from the 2012 murders likely won’t do much to cool down the spike in gang activity in Metro Vancouver.
“There are no signs of it abating going forward. Although we made some high profile arrests of individuals, but the void is so easily filled by up and comers wanting to get involved in it,” Heed explained.
SFU Criminologist Rob Gordon says Amero’s arrest may be good optics for Vancouver Police as they deal with the spate of gang violence, but agrees it’s unlikely to affect what’s happening between gangs operating the illegal drug trade in Metro Vancouver.
“I don’t think it’s going to change the landscape here to any significant degree,” Gordon said. “Part of this exercise is trying to assure the public the police are active and have rounded someone up, even if it’s disconnected to what’s been happening the past couple weeks.”
Amero will soon be transported back to B.C. from Ontario to face the new charges against him. Vancouver Police are not providing details on when that might happen, citing concerns around security.