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Province looks to seize Kelowna business involved in alleged drug trafficking

Drug trafficking and money laundering are alleged to occurred at Empire Motors, a Kelowna business, along with 6 other properties
(ALERT photo)

A Kelowna business and five other Okanagan-based properties alleged to have been purchased and maintained with proceeds from crime may have to be forfeited to the government after being named in a suit filed by the Director of Civil Forfeiture on Feb. 9.

The Civil Forfeiture claim filed in the Supreme Court of B.C. requests that six properties owned and operated by alleged drug trafficker Kulwant Singh Bal, his wife Catherine Angela Bal, and associates Darshan Kaur Bal, and Jaskaran Singh Sidhu, be turned over to the government.

Thirteen bank accounts and all associated funds alleged to be connected to the properties’ mortgages and criminal activity are also requested in the forfeiture claim.

The lawsuit states that Kulwant Bal, who will be referred to as K. Bal in this article, is a member of a criminal organization and is facing charges relating to drug trafficking and fraud.

An article published by Kim Bolan, a B.C. gang and crime reporter, in the Vancouver Sun, alleges that K. Bal has ties to the Wolfpack gang alliance and the Hells Angels.

One of the six properties named in the forfeiture suit is Empire Motors, a business which is located on Highway 97 North in Kelowna.

K.Bal is the current owner and operator of the company.

Capital News contacted the business and was told that Empire Motors is unavailable for comment at this time.

The forfeiture suit claims that K.Bal used proceeds from crime to purchase and maintain the properties. It also alleges that the properties and bank accounts were used by the defendants to further engage in unlawful activities including the production and trafficking of controlled substances, laundering the proceeds of unlawful activity, and fraud.

In 2021, two simultaneous RCMP investigations were commenced by police in Alberta and Kelowna.

The suit claims that a fraud investigation found that an associate of K.Bal named J. Sidhu was employed at Valley First Credit Union in Kelowna and used his job to secure mortgages. The lawsuit states that K.Bal provided J.Sidhu with falsified documents, which were then used to apply for mortgages. The mortgages were then approved, based on the false information in the documents. It is then stated that K. Bal used the mortgage funds to purchase and maintain the six properties.

The suit states that some or all of the funds used to purchase and maintain the property were proceeds of unlawful activity from drug trafficking, fraud or tax evasion.

In the spring of 2021, the Lloydminster RCMP began an investigation into a “dial-a-dope” drug trafficking operation.

The investigation found that K.Bal was a supplier to the drug trafficking line. Between December 2021, and April 2022, an undercover officer purchased illicit drugs from either K. Bal or an associate who was working for him at the Empire Motors property, located on Highway 97, on multiple occasions.

READ MORE: Kelowna men among 6 suspects facing drug charges in Alberta

Then, in May 2022, K.Bal was accused of agreeing to launder $25,000 for the undercover officer and exchanging two cheques for cash.

In June 2022, K.Bal was arrested and subsequently charged with trafficking a controlled substance and conspiracy to traffic a controlled substance.

At the time of the arrest, search warrants were executed at three of K.Bal’s properties, including Empire Motors. Officers found drugs, firearms and ammunition, anabolic steroids, large amounts of powdered medications including erectile dysfunction medication in powdered form, stun guns, silver bars, large amounts of cash, multiple cell phones and SIM cards, a fake soda can with a secret compartment and an envelope marked “stolen IDs” which contained 10 identification documents.

The director states that the six properties and bank accounts named in the suit are “proceeds and instruments of unlawful activity,” namely the laundering of proceeds of crime, and the production, possession, and trafficking of controlled substances and fraud.

K.Bal and the defendants also named in the suit have not yet filed a counterclaim but have until March. 1, to respond.

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Jacqueline Gelineau

About the Author: Jacqueline Gelineau

I'm a reporter in the beginning stages of my career. I joined the team at Capital News in November 2021...
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