BY RATTAN MALL
HOW the mighty have fallen!
Indeed, our last week’s story “Planned resurgence of Independent Soldiers disrupted by Combined Forces Special Enforcement Unit of B.C.” showed how the leftovers from once mighty gangs are desperately struggling to regain some of their past glory.
CFSEU-BC spokesperson Sgt. Lindsey Houghton told me on Thursday that the current situation reflects a number of things. It includes the enforcement, disruption, suppression and even prevention activities of the police forces and how police themselves have evolved.
But it also reflects some key gang members serving jail time, people such as the United Nations gang members Barzan Tilli-Choli and some of his crew, the Red Scorpions’ Bacon brothers Jamie and Jarrod (Jonathan was shot dead in Kelowna in August 2011), and Larry Amero, who was involved from the Hells Angels’ side in the Wolf Pack (alliance of Independent Soldiers, Red Scorpions and Hells Angels that were in conflict with remnants of the Dhak-Duhre and United Nations groups), and the death of gang members such as the Dhak brothers (Gurmit and Sukhveer) as well as Sandip Duhre.
Houghton added: “So people are left to sort of pick up the pieces from there and a number of people who are highly positioned in a number of those cells or groups that were associated to a number of the gangs have moved on. Many of them have either left, been killed or incarcerated. So it’s a combination of sort of all the above.”
He noted that some people who had been involved in gangs for 10 to 15 years had “seen the light” and left gangs and the gang lifestyle.
He said: “They are certainly to be commended for it because it is not an easy thing, but they’ve made that very difficult but important choice.”
Yet, “on any given day, there are still groups out there looking to take each other out, they are looking to take over each other’s drug lines, they are looking to infiltrate each other, backstab each other, all that kind of stuff happens in that world every single day.”
HOWEVER, as last week’s story showed, “there are still members in different cells of Independent Soldiers and people aligned to the Independent Soldiers either a decade ago or more recently in different communities around British Columbia,” Houghton pointed out.
The CFSEU-BC seized a large variety of drugs and drug paraphernalia, a high-powered prohibited handgun, a 20 gauge shotgun, an AR-style .22 calibre rifle, assorted ammunition, a crossbow, and three large boxes of new clothing bearing the Independent Soldiers logo during their investigation.
Houghton added: “Much of their overt activity has ceased and desisted because some people are dead, and some people are in jail, either here in British Columbia or across Canada or even internationally like in the case of James Riach.”
Incidentally, last week a ruling by a B.C. Supreme Court judge revealed that Riach was one of the gang members seen in a downtown Vancouver hotel bar when Sandip Duhre was killed there on January 17, 2012. Riach was with Jonathan Bacon and Larry Amero when they were attacked in Kelowna in 2011. Riach and another gang member were arrested in the Philippines in January 2014 for allegedly trafficking illegal drugs from Mexico.
Houghton told me: “But many of the people have sort of evolved or moved on from some of their past alliances or allegiances but there are still people who are loyal to the name or like the name Independent Soldiers and want to see that name continue on because it still does have some credibility and strikes fear in that world.”
He noted: “We know that the Independent Soldiers is nothing today [compared to] what it looked like originally because it developed out of the South Slope of Vancouver from the Sunset Boys [named after the Sunset Community Centre where they were active] 20 years ago within the South Asian community and there were some people around there that time like Bal Buttar and [Sukhvinder Singh (Bicky)] Dosanjh (who died in a car accident in 2005) who were involved in and around that time period [in that group].”
Houghton added: “But that Independent Soldiers name has been taken on and used by many different groups throughout the last 15 years.”
Asked about the Red Scorpions, Houghton said they still exist, adding: “There are still members of the Red Scorpion out in communities both here in British Columbia and [in Alberta where] we saw the RCMP take down a Red Scorpion member who was trying to set up shop in Red Deer last year.”