By Michael Potestio, Kamloops This Week
A B.C. Supreme Court justice has granted a publication ban protecting the identity of undercover officers expected to testify at the upcoming trial of three men accused of drug crimes connected to a biker gang support club.
Justice Lauren Blake has accepted the RCMP’s application for a publication ban on any evidence or information that could identify those officers.
Lawyers representing the three accused — Shawn William Carlisle, 49, Jacob Andrew Cavanagh, 27, and Zale Coty — also appeared in court last week on a first appearance following the case proceeding by direct indictment, meaning there will be no preliminary hearing before a trial begins.
The matter was adjourned at the request of defence counsels for five weeks, to Oct. 3, to review disclosure documents.
According to police, the charges against the three men, who are believed to be linked with the Throttle Lockers gang, was the result of an organized crime investigation by the Kamloops RCMP and the Combined Special Forces Enforcement Unit of B.C. (CFSEU-BC) that began in 2017.
Using three search warrants in November 2019, police said they found a number of items, including $330,000 in Canadian currency, 174 grams of fentanyl, 704 grams of cocaine, 1.7 kilograms of methamphetamine, weapons that included a .40-calibre handgun, an Airsoft replica handgun and a pair of brass knuckles, a Throttle Lockers Motorcycle Club vest, Hells Angels support gear, digital scales and cash-counting machines.
Kamloops RCMP Supt. Syd Lecky said police received information early on that indicated the Throttle Lockers, which he called a “support club” for the Kelowna chapter of the Hells Angels, were attempting to establish a presence in Kamloops.
The investigation began under former Kamloops RCMP superintendent Brad Mueller and was led by former Kamloops RCMP staff sergeant Simon Pillay. CFSEU-BC took over the investigation in July 2018 after its scope continued to grow.
One of the search warrants targeted the Sunshine Gardens Greenhouse Superstore in Valleyview. Corporate records show that Sunshine Gardens Greenhouse is owned by Zale Coty, a close associate of Hells Angel Chad Wilson, who was gunned down in November 2018. The 50-year-old Coty incorporated the business in 2000 and is the sole director, according to the B.C. Corporate Registry.
Land title records show that Coty also owns a property at 173 Knollwood Dr. — the same block where police executed one of the warrants. He purchased the Knollwood property, currently assessed at $410,000, in March of 2017. He also owns two other properties — one in Tappen, east of Kamloops in the Shuswap and assessed at $1.23 million, and another one on Inskip Road in Westsyde assessed at $339,000.
Coty’s only convictions in B.C. are for two instances of driving when his licence was suspended in 2007 and 2017, according to the B.C. online court database.
Coty is facing seven drug-related charges, including trafficking, possession for the purposes of trafficking and conspiracy to commit an indictable offence. Carlisle is charged with trafficking a controlled substance and a violation of the Cannabis Act, while Cavanagh is charged with possession for the purpose of trafficking.
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