Alleged gang leader and associates face attempted murder charges

The alleged leader of the notorious UN gang has been arrested along with his 'lieutenant' and a number of his associates, according to Vancouver police.
An alleged leader of the notorious United Nations gang has been arrested along with his "lieutenant" and a number of his associates, according to police in Vancouver.

Barzan Tilli-Choli, 26, was arrested and charged over the weekend with two counts of attempted murder, police said Tuesday morning in Vancouver.

Investigators allege Tilli-Choli is a key leader of the UN gang, which is involved in a turf war over the drug trade in British Columbia's Lower Mainland.

"We caught the bad guy," said Vancouver police Chief Jim Chu at a joint news conference with the RCMP. 

"To be clear, this is not your average run-of-the-mill bad guy. He is one of the top threats to public safety in the Lower Mainland," said Chu. "This is a major blow, to the gangs generally and to the UN gang specifically." 

Also charged were Aram Ali, 23, of Vancouver, who police said is an associate of the UN gang, and Nicola Cottrell, 26, of New Westminster, who police allege is a known associate of Tilli-Choli.

Sarah Jane Trebble, 28, of West Vancouver was also arrested. She is charged with one count of occupying a vehicle knowing that there was a firearm in that vehicle.

And Karwan Saed, 32, of Burnaby was charged with accessory after the fact to attempted murder, said police. Saed is also a member of the UN gang, alleged police.

All have made an initial appearance in provincial court in Surrey.

Arrests followed joint investigation

The group was charged in a shooting outside the T-Barz Lounge, a strip club in Surrey, on Feb 16.

Police believe the target was an associate of the Bacon brothers, three brothers alleged to be involved in the rival Red Scorpion gang.

"During that incident, a Range Rover had stopped at an intersection when an SUV approached and shots rang out striking the male driver in the left shoulder," police said in a statement released Tuesday.

"In this Range Rover were two women and one other male who was seated behind the driver. The target of the shooting is a known associate of the Bacon brothers," said police.

The arrests were part of the work of a multi-agency investigation called Project Rebellion mounted by Vancouver police and the RCMP six months ago, said Chu.

The operation was led by Insp. Mike Porteous of Vancouver police and involved scores of officers who regularly worked double shifts.

The investigation also prevented a large number of shootings, killings and attempted kidnappings, despite the recent surge in gang violence in the Lower Mainland, said Porteous.