Man rescued from highway after gang-related kidnapping
Seven people have been charged with kidnapping after police say they abducted a man from a Vancouver restaurant on behalf of an Eastern Canadian gang.
Vancouver Police Insp. Brad Desmarais told reporters Friday that the 29-year-old victim was kidnapped after a meeting downtown on the night of Oct. 20 and taken to Richmond.
Officers from the VPD and Richmond RCMP conducted what Desmarais described as an "extraordinary hostage rescue" the next day, after watching as the victim was led blindfolded into a car in front of a business on No. 5 Road and driven away.
"VPD emergency response and surveillance teams were developing a hostage recovery plan when the car carrying the man suddenly pulled over on Highway 91 in Richmond and the blindfolded victim was pushed from the car," Desmarais said.
Officers scooped up the injured man from the road, while other members of the team stopped the car and another suspect SUV. Five people were arrested at the scene, and a warrant was issued for another two suspects who have since turned themselves in to police.
Nazfar Mirhadi, 28, of North Vancouver, 42-year-old Demple Brar of Richmond, 30-year-old Thomas Crawford of Kamloops, 28-year-old Robert Carr of Abbotsford, 24-year-old Edmond Gammel of Surrey, 28-year-old David Tarrant of Kamloops and 20-year-old Veronica Moncur of Kamloops have all been charged with kidnapping and unlawful confinement.
Police say some of those charged have links to the Red Scorpions and Independent Soldiers organized crime groups, but investigators believe the root of the crime stretches far past the Lower Mainland.
"The kidnapping was financially motivated," Desmarais said.
"Our belief in this particular case is that the local group is acting on behalf of an Eastern criminal organization, the identity of which we do not know yet."
He says police are still investigating the alleged cross-Canada connection.
Police say the victim was not previously known to them.
Officers also seized an array of weapons and other criminal paraphernalia as part of their investigation, including body armour, two Glock handguns, a "spy kit" used to detect bugs and other listening devices, a GPS tracking device that can be attached to vehicles, handcuffs, zap straps, batons, a Billy club and two Tasers -- one of which was disguised as a cell phone.
The alleged kidnappers are expected to face weapons charges in connection with the haul.
In all, 41 investigators were involved in the operation, which Desmarais described as "the largest deployment of our kidnapping protocol in recent years."