DELTA, B.C. – Three men suspected in the bloody shooting death of an organized crime kingpin outside a Kelowna, B.C., hotel nearly two years ago have been arrested, but police say that may not put an end to the periodic gangland killings in the province.
The suspects are accused in the first-degree murder of Red Scorpion boss Jonathan Bacon and are alleged to have gang ties, RCMP announced Monday.
Officials with the Combined Forces Special Enforcement Unit said the men were nabbed Friday in a large-scale takedown involving 100 officers in Vancouver, Surrey, B.C., and Toronto.
It would be “naive” to think that removing some central figures in the recent rash of violent activity will cap it, said RCMP Assistant Commissioner Wayne Rideout.
“This is going to go on for some time,” he told a news conference. “We are doing everything we can to reduce that risk and to identify and disrupt and arrest those involved, but it’s not over.”
“I still have 50 investigators that are working on that case this week,” said the unit’s Chief Officer Dan Malo. “I fully expect that I’ll have 50 investigators working on that case for several weeks to come.”
Jujhur Khun-Khun, 25, of Surrey, Michael Jones, 25, of Gibsons, and 37-year-old North Vancouver resident Jason McBride — who recently moved to Toronto — have also been charged with attempting to murder four people who were with Bacon.
Matthew Nathanson, who is the legal counsel for McBride, said his client is expected to appear in Kelowna provincial court March 21.
“The allegations against my client are very serious, but at this stage they are nothing more than allegations,” he said. “My client is presumed to be innocent of all of these offences, and at this stage absolutely nothing has been proven against him.
“We look forward to receiving the information relied upon by the police and the Crown so that we can analyze it and begin preparing for my client’s defence.”
The eldest of three brothers at the centre of a long-standing gang war died of his injuries when at least one masked gunman unleashed a hail of gunfire as the 30-year-old was climbing into a white Porsche SUV on Aug. 14, 2011.
Bacon was out with friends and gang associates who had recently come together in a loose association dubbed “the wolf pack,” police said.
The drive-by hit also wounded a full-patch member of the Hells Angels, Larry Amero, a member of the Independent Soldiers gang, James Riach, and two women — including one who was left a paraplegic.
The brazen shooting outside the luxury Grand Delta Hotel and Resort in the B.C. Interior spurred a series of reprisal killings, Malo said.
“There’s been several homicides that have occurred through the last 18 months or so … that caused groups to align, groups that we had not seen align in the past and a sustained conflict amongst those groups.”
Malo wouldn’t comment on the motive for Bacon’s death. But he noted there was a key flashpoint in the gang war with the death of a man tied to another prominent crime group. Gurmit Dhak was shot dead in his BMW outside a suburban Burnaby, B.C., mall in October 2010.
“Jonathan Bacon was part of the global conflict,” Malo said about the warfare has played out.
Malo said there was no specific trigger that prompted the arrests to occur now, adding one other person, who he wouldn’t identify, was part of the conspiracy to murder Bacon and is now dead.
Tit-for-tat clashes have been an ongoing occurrence in B.C.’s Lower Mainland in the last four years.
Prior to the violence stemming from the Bacon incident, at least four dozen shootings occurred during several months of turf battles in 2009 alone.
After Bacon’s death, police took the unusual step of issuing a public warning that anyone with links to two notorious crime families — the Dhak and Duhre groups — should take care, because they expected retaliatory violence.
In January, two others with links to those gangs were shot dead in separate incidents in Surrey and Richmond: Manjinder Hairan and Manjot Dhillon.
Among the trio just arrested, Khun-Khun has been wounded twice in shootings, police said.