It was an arrest this week in Greece this week that put Canada's gang violence into perspective. The capture of Canadian Rabih "Robbie" Alkhalil in Athens for a first-degree murder in Toronto represents another enlightening piece of the puzzle that is Canada's role in the global war against organized crime.
To understand how it all fits together, it pays to revisit a bright, sunny day in June 2012. Toronto's Little Italy was alive with soccer fans who'd crowded the area's restaurants and cafés to watch a European Cup game. At the Sicilian Sidewalk Café at the corner of College and Montrose, the patio out front was packed. But there was one guy who didn't have a problem finding a seat.
Johnny Raposo was the leader of the McCormick Boys, and commanded respect in his community. As he was sitting out front enjoying the Sicilian's renowned gelato, he was approached by two road workers -- who in Toronto in the summer are as commonplace and unremarkable as flies. Suddenly, the two men opened fire on the crowded patio. They knew what they were doing. Raposo died on the scene. Another man was badly injured. No other people on the crowded patio were hurt.
It was also a bright sunny day in Kelowna, B.C., in August 2011. Jonathan Bacon was pulling his Porsche Cayenne SUV out of the Delta Grand Okanagan Resort & Conference Centre when a Ford Explorer blocked his way. Four masked gunmen jumped out and filled the Porsche full of holes. Bacon died on the scene, another man was critically injured, a young woman was paralyzed from the neck down and two other passengers were mildly injured.
These two murders -- ten months and more than 4,000 km apart -- are two examples that illustrate how organized crime is fomenting violence in Canada .
Raposo was a drug dealer. The McCormick boys were a small but influential street gang with about 10 members and maybe two dozen associates they could count on. Like many street gangs in Canada, they took their name from a park they used to hang out in as teenagers -- McCormick Park in Toronto 's west end that is overlapped by Little Italy and Little Portugal.
Though few in number, the McCormick Boys wielded great authority because their drugs came directly from the Italian Mafia. They had graduated from street dealers to middlemen who moved product from the Mafia to other street-level dealers, including Hispanic and black gangs, in west Toronto . Although he was not known to be related to Luis "Chopper" Raposo, who was one of the Bandidos killed in the April 2006 Shedden Massacre, the two likely knew each other through shared connections with the Loners motorcycle gang.
Bacon was also a drug dealer. He was heavily involved with, said to be the co-leader of, the Red Scorpions. A multi-ethnic gang based in the rapidly growing Fraser Valley communities, the Red Scorpions began in a youth detention centre by a pair of Southeast Asian kids convicted of murder who sought mutual protection and, later, a source of income from drug sales. Like many other B.C. gangs, violent men (often white, like Bacon) worked their way to the top.
The two were not just similar, they were connected; allies in a global crime war.
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Raposo was allegedly killed by Dean Wiwichar and Alkhalil. Wiwichar was a bad dude who had made his way through the Canadian corrections system. Suspended from high school for fighting, he had been arrested several times for robberies and assaults, often employing masks and weapons.
When he hit 18 in 2005, he was given a 10-year sentence. At his March 2009 parole hearing, the decision-makers heard that while in prison he had been caught with weapons 10 times and had been involved in five assaults. They paroled him anyway. A month later, he was in a car wreck in Maple Ridge, B.C., that broke his leg. The driver was a fellow parolee and the car was leased by a fugitive. Since the police found a loaded handgun and marijuana in the car, Wiwichar went back behind bars. Inside, he continued his aggressive ways, even assaulting a guard with the walker he was issued to help with his broken leg.
After his next release, Wiwichar was arrested again in May 2012 and charged with 37 counts of firearms offenses. His co-accused were a woman named Juanita Hyslop and an alleged gangster named Philip Ley. Ley is alleged to be a member of the Red Scorpions (Bacon's gang) and is also alleged to have been the target of a failed assassination attempt orchestrated by the Dhak gang, which is also alleged to have been behind Bacon's murder.
Alkhalil has had a similarly checkered past. With two of his brothers already dead due to their involvement in gangs, Alkhalil appeared undeterred. In November 2012, he was one of several people arrested in Montreal in an operation police allege moved 75 kg of cocaine per week. At the scene, police confiscated 400 firearms, explosives, $255,000 in cash, marijuana, cocaine and other drugs. Among those arrested was the man police allege is the ring leader, Larry Amero. Not only is Amero well known as a high-ranking member of the Hells Angels, but he was also the man critically injured in the assault that killed Bacon.
According to police, Wiwichar and Alkhalil were working under the orders of Nicola "Nick" Nero (arrested at his Niagara Falls home) and Martino Caputo (arrested in Germany). Both men are alleged to have close ties to the Mafia and the Hells Angels.
The men who are alleged to have killed Bacon -- Jujhar "Gianni" Singh Khun-khun, Jason Thomas McBride and Michael Hunter Jones -- have ties to the Dhaks and also to their associated gang, the Duhres, and another gang, the Reds Scorpions' archrivals, the United Nations.
Many of those gangs get their drugs not from the Mafia, but from sources in East Asia. It's also not a coincidence that the method Bacon's killers used originated in Colombia and is commonly used in Mexico , the places where cocaine distribution has led to sophisticated, incredibly bloody wars. All of the crime organizations that operate in Canada have some direct or indirect connections to the cartels there.
The consensus among law enforcement is that Raposo and Bacon were on the same side of the great organized crime divide, but killed for different reasons.
Raposo's was disciplinary. He worked as a middle manager for the Mafia/Hells Angels drug organization, but was eliminated when his gambling problem put him in so much debt with the suppliers that they felt they had no choice but to get rid of him. It's not just a code; it's a lesson to other employees.
Bacon, however, was a casualty of war. Long a very visible representative of his side, he was taken out by the other side. The motive might have been revenge for recent killings of Dhak/Duhre/United Nations associates, or it might have been because his plotting with Amero of the Hells Angels and James Raich of the closely associated (and inaccurately named) Independent Soldiers would have given his organization and allies the upper hand in British Columbia. Odds are it was both.
But it's misleading to say that Bacon was a victim of a Canadian gang war. It's more accurate to say that he was killed on the Canadian front in a global drug war that involves all the heavy hitters from Italy, China, the U.S., Latin America and everywhere else drugs originate or make their stop on their way to Canadian streets.