BY RATTAN MALL
HELLS Angels high profile member Larry Amero, who’s been in jail in Montreal since 2012 for his alleged involvement in an international cocaine smuggling ring, could be out on bail this year and Sgt. Lindsey Houghton of the Combined Forces Special Enforcement Unit – BC (CFSEU-BC) cautions: “While it’s just one guy, could result in a number of different things happening.”
Houghton noted: “He’s probably one of the most high profile Hells Angels members in British Columbia in terms of his criminal profile. He was shot and injured during the murder of Jonathan Bacon.”
Red Scorpion leader Bacon, Amero and James Riach, a high profile member of the Independent Soldiers, along with two women, one of whom is reportedly related to several Hells Angels members, were attacked in Kelowna on August 14, 2011. While Bacon was killed, Amero and the two women sustained non-life-threatening injuries. Riach, who was also injured, fled the scene.
Jujhar Khun-Khun of Surrey, Michael Kerry Hunter Jones of Gibsons, and Jason Thomas McBride of North Vancouver were arrested on February 22, 2013, and charged with the first degree murder of Bacon as well as four counts each of attempted murder. Manjinder “Manny” Hairan, 29, who was shot dead on January 15, 2013, in Surrey, is believed to have also been involved in the Kelowna shooting. The trial will take place next April in Kelowna.
Houghton told The VOICE this week: “And so people who maybe don’t know or don’t understand might not think it [Amero being released on bail] is a big deal, but it could potentially be a big deal. I am not saying that it’s going to be, but it could be – just that one small thing happening.”
Houghton noted that Amero is just one such example. Take, for instance, Riach who was also injured in that attack in Kelowna. He’s also currently in jail with Barry Espadilla and Ali Shirazi in the Philippines after having been arrested in January 2014 for allegedly operating an international drug ring.
Houghton said: “I suppose there’s always the potential that James Raich could be released from the Philippines. And what if he were to return to B.C.? He and Amero were the targets of attempted murder. Presumably there may be people out there who may want to finish the job. And so them returning to B.C. … those people returning to our streets and maybe not being covert about their presence may result in violence and gunplay on our streets. We all would agree that’s unacceptable, but that’s not something that we can control.”
As The VOICE has reported in the past, on one side, there is the United Nations gang and all the remnants and allies of the Dhak-Duhre group, and on the other side, there is the so-called Wolf Pack, comprising certain Hells Angels like Larry Amero and their allies and associates, the Independent Soldiers and the people that they brought to the equation and the Red Scorpions.
HOUGHTON, who’s an expert on gangs, was responding to my question about what we could expect in the B.C. gang scene in the second half of this year.
He told me: “It’s extremely hard and perhaps it’s at our peril to try and predict what may happen because the gang environment is always so fluid and dynamic. One small thing could lead to a cascade of events.”
Take for example, the 2007 attempt on Gurmit Dhak’s life at an upscale Kitsilano restaurant in which he was shot in the abdomen at his 29th birthday party.
Houghton said: “That event resulted in dozens of retaliatory incidents back and forth between both of the sides, ultimately ending in Gurmeet’s murder and Sukh Dhak’s murder and then the murder of Jonathan Bacon and then all that stuff happened.”
Gurmit Dhak, 32, was shot dead in execution style in a black BMW SUV on October 16, 2010, at a parking lot of the Metrotown Shopping Centre, and his brother Sukhveer (Sukh) Dhak, 27, was gunned down on November 26, 2012, along with his bodyguard, Thomas Mantel, 30, in a Burnaby hotel.
Houghton said that right now we have been fortunate not to have had one of these flashpoint events occurring. He added: “But that’s not to say that one can’t happen, and it certainly can – it could happen at any time and any day.”
Houghton said: “In the last few years we’ve become very good and I would argue, better, at strategically anticipating (what may happen), because I would include under that our work that we have with human intelligence in talking with people who give us information, and our ability to share that information and action it, is unprecedented.”
He said that the way that various police forces in B.C. and other provinces share intelligence between themselves is “as good as it’s ever been.”
Houghton added: “So all of that works together to help mitigate the seriousness of any potential event, helps us prevent events, helps us to be able to warn people that they may be the victims of something that’s coming. … We do it whenever we believe there is a credible threat to somebody’s life. That happens regularly.”
INTERESTINGLY, Houghton compared the fluid crime situation to bringing a pot of water to a boil on a stove.
“You turn it down just a little bit so that it’s not boiling over, but you know that if you turn the element up just a fraction it will be a rolling boil again. We find ourselves at any given time in that very fine balance between those two points,” he noted.
“In 2006-2007 the temperature was turned up a bit and it came back down. In 2008-2009 it was turned up, so the thing was boiling over and then a combination of all these things happened and then the temperature was turned down a bit. Now we’ve been at a simmer for a few years, but that’s not to say that if someone who is a very high profile and very involved or an agitator or somebody who’s pulling strings, gets out of prison and is a target or wants to exact revenge – whatever it is – the temperature can get turned up very, very quickly.”
Houghton added: “Our our challenge is to keep our finger on the pulse of that and sort of be the counterforce, if you will, to that temperature being turned up. We have all these different things we do to help with that. There are a lot of “right” people in jail right now, there are a lot of “right” people who are not in British Columbia; they’ve fled or they are on the run or they have just moved out of parts of Canada or whatever.
“If anyone gets bail and whatever happens, happens. We do our best behind the scenes to mitigate whatever that might be. Locally, you’ve got a number of different trials and things that are happening and you’ve got people who five or six years ago were arrested and sentenced to significant sentences and terms because of significant crimes like kidnappings and extortions and violent gang-related assaults, they are getting close to finishing their jail terms.
“So they will be released at some time. Unless they have completely been rehabilitated, those people may go back to their old lifestyles and then we will have to try to prevent, suppress, disrupt and ultimately (deal with) whatever happens. And this is a cycle that continues all the time.”