VANCOUVER (NEWS1130) – A well-known BC Hells Angel and seven other men have been charged with drug offences in what the RCMP call a large drug conspiracy stretching from the Interior to the Lower Mainland and even overseas.
Superintendent Brian Cantera, the head of the RCMP Drug Enforcement branch in BC, says Project E-Predicate ran for 20 months and took police through four countries.

“The investigation began in January 2011 and initially focused upon the evidence suggesting a marijuana production and trafficking organization was active in the Southeast district of British Columbia,” says Cantera, standing near a table laden with nearly $4-million in seized cash, as well as guns.

“The second phase of the project was developed when RCMP investigators gathered evidence indicating the drug-trafficking organization was prepared to import and traffic 500 kilograms of cocaine.”

Cantera says using surveillance, help from international partners and even infiltrating the Hells Angels, officers managed to gather enough evidence to arrest seven men and search five sites over the weekend.

“On Saturday, multiple search warrants were executed following the arrest of four primary targets and their associates here in the Lower Mainland,” he says. “Searches took place in Kelowna, Osoyoos and Coquitlam, and included the clubhouse of the Kelowna chapter of Hells Angels.”

Vice President of the Kelowna Hells Angels chapter David Giles, Kevin Van Kalkeren, Michael Read and James Howard have been charged with conspiracy to import drugs and conspiracy to traffic drugs.

Cantera says Giles was arrested at the Grand Villa Casino in Burnaby without a problem.

All four men were to appear in BC Supreme Court today and Cantera says they hope to have prosecutors go right to trial if a direct indictment is approved.

“This investigation represents taking out some of the highest levels [of organized crime] and I think British Columbians, in terms of the public safety aspect, can appreciate the scope and the efforts in terms of the police here to ensure that safety,” he explains.

Orhan Saydam, Murray Trekofski and Shawn Womacks have been charged with possession for the purpose of trafficking drugs and were to appear in Provincial Court. 

Brian Oldham, who Cantera describes as the sergeant of arms of the Hells Angels Kelowna chapter, is also charged with possession for the purpose of trafficking drugs but is still at large. A Canada-wide warrant has been issued for his arrest.

“Searches recovered an assault rifle, handguns [and] over 200,000 further [pieces of] evidence to support the charges,” adds Cantera, along with nearly $4-million.

Assistant Commissioner Wayne Rideout, the head of Investigative Services and Organized Crime for BC RCMP, praised the mounties’ police partners from across the world.

“I would also like to thank the various US law enforcement agencies, the Mexican federal police, and Panamanian authorities for their contributions to this investigation,” says Rideout, although he wouldn’t elaborate on their involvement.

In 2008, David Giles was found not guilty of possessing cocaine, but two co-accused each received jail sentences.