Former WWE wrestler and Hamilton biker boss, Ion Croituru, plead guilty in B.C. Supreme Court Monday to conspiring to kill rival gang members. Croituru wrestled in the World Wrestling Federation under the name Johnny K-9.
He was among two dozen people who plotted to murder Jonathan, Jarrod and Jamie Bacon and their Red Scorpions' gang associates over the course of 14 months that saw gang violence escalate across Metro Vancouver, court documents revealed Monday.
The conspiracy was fuelled by a cash reward that reached hundreds of thousands of dollars and took place during the lethal gang war over drugs and criminal supremacy in 2008 and 2009.
Barzan Tilli-Choli, Yong Lee, Dilun Heng, Croitoru and Karwan Saed of the United Nations gang pleaded guilty in B.C. Supreme Court on Monday to conspiring to kill the Bacon brothers and their associates — a development deemed a victory by the Integrated Homicide Investigation Team.
"It is vital to remove the illusion of invincibility these individuals use to intimidate others and expand their violence and illegal operations," says Supt. Kevin Hackett in a written statement.
"These charges bring well known gang members before the Courts to face justice and send a vital message to all criminals and perspective gang members that they will be held accountable for their actions."
Murder conspiracy began in 2008, court documents say
According to an agreed statement of facts filed in the court, the murder conspiracy began in January 2008, after UN gang leader Clayton Rouche was shot at by one of the Bacon brothers' associates.
Rouche then put out a reward for the murder of each of the Bacon brothers, as well as for three of their associates. The sum for the murder of Jamie Bacon, the youngest of the Bacon brothers, went as high as $300,000 at one point.
Up until May 2008, when he was arrested and detained in U.S. custody, Rouche was the mastermind behind the plot to kill the Bacon brothers, the court statement said.
There were multiple attempts to co-ordinate and carry out the murders, some of which were tracked by the police through listening and tracking devices.
On May 8, 2008, UN member Duane Meyer, who attempted to kill a Bacon brother associate earlier in the year, was shot to death in Abbotsford.
Rouche and his associates then set out in separate vehicles the following day to scout out where the Bacon brothers and their associates could be found. The court statement said, "they were out for revenge ... now on the spot."
A chance encounter with Bacon brother associate Michael Le set off a chase along Highway 1 through two Metro Vancouver communities that saw Le's car sprayed by bullets.
Bystander mistaken for gang member killed
At one point in the day, Rouche was even stopped by the police, who were monitoring the intercepts. When asked by an officer when the violence would stop, Rouche said it won't, and "that it would be the same if a police officer was murdered, the police would also want revenge, that was just the way it was."
It was on that same day that an innocent bystander was mistaken for Jamie Bacon and killed.
Jonathan Barber was a stereo installer and a friend of Jonathan Bacon's, court documents said. That night, Jonathan Bacon, the eldest of the Bacon brothers, drove a Porsche to meet Barber, who took the car to install a new set of speakers.
Meanwhile, UN gang conspirators pulled up at the same location. After Barber got into the driver's seat of the Porsche, his girlfriend Vicky King followed in her own vehicle.
Seconds later, both vehicles were showered with bullets, and Barber died instantly. King sustained gunshot wounds to both her arms.
Murder charges stayed
Earlier this year, UN gang member Daniel Russell pleaded guilty to manslaughter for his part in the death of Barber. He also pleaded guilty to murder conspiracy and was sentenced to 12 years in prison, minus time served.
The five UN members who pleaded guilty to the same conspiracy charge on Monday were also charged with murder and attempted murder in the attempts on Barber and King's lives. However, those charges were stayed.
Crown spokesman Neil MacKenzie would not elaborate on the decision to stay the more serious murder charges, saying only that, "The evidence that will be put forward in the proceeding does not establish that any of these accused were directly involved in the death of Mr. Barber, or the attempted murder of Ms. King."
Barber's death was only one example of the type of gang shootings that escalated to a near-daily occurrence in the Vancouver area in early 2009. Many of the shootings were fatal and targeted known gang members.
Jamie Bacon is facing trial for conspiracy to commit murder in relation to a case known as the "Surrey six" murders in October 2007, a separate case that resulted in the death of six people, including two innocent bystanders.
The Bacons' middle brother, Jarrod, is serving a 12-year sentence on drug trafficking charges.
Jonathan Bacon was fatally shot in Kelowna in 2011.