Top stories of 2017: Gang shooting trial offer insights into Kelowna’s underworld

Kelowna was a key location in a Surrey gang’s drug trafficking network before the violence

It took six years to get to court, but the trial looking into the broad daylight shooting of B.C. gang-leader Jonathan Bacon has been one of the most eye-opening cases to have hit Kelowna.

Jason McBride, Jujhar Kuhn Kuhn and Michael Jones have been on trial for murder since May in a case that seems to have no shortage of delays and grainy CCTV footage of people walking.

Much of the case has been focused on details too dry to make it to print, like phone records and fragmented text messages, but there have been moments that have shone a light on the dark corners of B.C.’s underworld—particularly Kelowna’s.

Much of that came from testimony of one man who used to be associated with the three accused and has since become a Crown witness. His name, like that of the three others who are expected to testify in the new year, is under a publication ban.

When offering testimony that highlighted his ties to the accused, the witness told the court that Kelowna was a key location in a Surrey gang’s drug trafficking network years before it brought a war to local streets.

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,” he said.

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.”

He also offered some insight into how the Bacons rose to prominence.

“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.

Bacon, Larry Amero and James Riach were in the shot up Porsche Cayenne August 2011 in Kelowna, 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.

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