Kelowna was a key location in a Surrey gang’s drug trafficking network years before it brought a war to local streets, the court heard Wednesday.
A witness in Michael Jones, Jason McBride and Jujhar Singh Khun-Khun’s murder trial said he was making a brisk living selling drugs in the Okanagan, supplied by Sukh Dhak — the younger brother of Gurmit Dhak, a member of an Indo Canadian gang that rose to prominence in the Lower Mainland in the early 2000s.
“I moved here 10 years ago and started a dope line. I’d drive around and hand out free dope samples and give out my number,” said the witness, whose name is protected under a publication ban.
Soon he was making more than when he dealt in Surrey.
“That phone … was probably pulling in, on average, $4,000 or $6,000 a day,” he said, explaining that “dope” was cocaine and crack.
Early on he even had a tow truck business set up so he could transport drugs and guns from one end of the valley to the other, unnoticed. If, on the off chance he was pulled over, he explained, he could say he didn’t know anything about the contents of the vehicle attached to his hitch. He’d return to Surrey every week—sometimes three times a week —to replenish his supply and bring back cash.
“Some of my vehicles had hidden compartments so if I couldn’t find someone to bring up ($70,000), I’d jump into one of my vehicles and bring it down,” he said. “Or sometimes Sukh (Dhak) would bring me down and talk about how we could sell more. Sometimes I’d stay down for a week. Sometimes an hour.”
Sukh Dhak, the witness explained, had been a friend since they were in their teens, selling pot. As they got older he and a small group of friends started dealing cocaine and crack.
“Me and Manny (Hairan) became good friends and Suhk was always around supplying weed and coke and we were all kind of just buddies,” he said.
“At that time we were just a bunch of young kids selling drugs to make money and Sukh was kind of the boss, but also our buddy.”
In just a few more years, he said, the bonds they forged earlier in life took the shape of a criminal organization, with a hierarchy falling into place. Sukh Dhak’s leadership became more clear. If they wanted to sell dope they “had to go through him” and he was “giving out orders.”
The witness said he never met with Gurmit Dhak, to secure a line of drugs. He did, however, discuss their shared business interests over dinner with friends, at hockey games, in clubs and at concerts.
He was also present for conversations where Gurmit Dhak’s role in the organization was highlighted.
“When the Bacons and all that started happening, and those guys came into Surrey and started dope lines there … we looked at it as these guys coming into our town. They were moving things around and making guys work for them,” he said.
The Bacon brothers were the heads of the Red Scorpion gang that was based out of Abbotsford.
“That became a problem,” the witness said. “And when that happened Gurm would step in and deal with it.”
He made an arrangement with the “Bacon guys” allowing them both to deal in Surrey, without conflict.
While Gurmit Dhak was able to broker a peaceful co-existence between the Red Scorpions and the Dhak Group, he was gunned down by other rivals in a Metrotown parking lot in 2010.
“After Gurm died a lot changed,” said the witness, noting the drug operation they’d been running got “bigger over time” and Sukh started hanging out with “other guys,” like Jujhar Khun-Khun.
“Sukh was pissed” about his brother’s death, he said. “He was mad. He was sad… He told us to keep our ears open and see what happened.”
Sukh Dhak was looking for who killed his brother and, in time, came to the understanding that Larry Amero was responsible for his brother’s death and James Riach was also involved, said the witness.
The witness testified he knew Riach was an Independent Soldier from the Vancouver area and Amero was a full patch Hells Angel. Sukh Dhak’s associates were to look for them.
The court has already been told how the search culminated in a shooting outside the Delta Grand hotel — something the witness has not indicated he knew would happen, though he was active in the surveillance the night before.
Bacon, Amero and Riach were in the shot up Porsche Cayenne August 2011, along with Leah Hadden-Watts and Lyndsey Black. Bacon was the only one who died. Amero was shot in the face, wrist and chest, Hadden-Watts was shot in the neck and rendered a paraplegic, Black was shot through both upper legs. Riach escaped without injury.
While much of the testimony was dedicated to the inner workings of the war between rival drug gangs, there was also a more dismal element offered to those in court.
Sukh Dahk and Manny Hairan were killed in the years that followed the Kelowna shooting and the witness started to do an unsustainable level of drugs.
He testified earlier that he had a Percocet habit that required dozens of pills. He could afford it when his corner of the drug trade was booming, but after his friends were killed that network didn’t seem to sustain his income in the same way. He was relying too heavily on a supply of money he’d saved in those years, and he had to come up with new streams of income.
With only a Grade 6 education, and job experience limited to drug dealing, his career choices seemed limited. He started robbing other dealers at gunpoint and stealing tailgates to sell to a chop shop.
At one point he was arrested, and things got worse.
In Kelowna cells, as he detoxed from the many drugs he was taking, his cellmate offered him something to lessen the pain — heroin from a baggie he snuck in. He pulled it out and they did lines on the prison bench.
From there on he used heroin more frequently and, he said, his drug addiction grew out of control.