British Columbia

Men charged in 2012 gangster slayings set to make 1st court appearance

Larry Ronald Amero, Dean Michael Wiwchar and Rabih Alkhalil are set to make their first B.C. Supreme Court appearance following multiple targeted shootings in 2012.

WARNING: 2nd photo contains graphic content

Three men have been charged for multiple gang-related attacks in 2012. (Shane MacKichan/CBC)

Three men charged in the deaths of two notorious B.C. gangsters are set to make their first appearance in a B.C. Supreme courtroom Wednesday.

Last week, the VPD announced 'significant' arrests had been made in connection with the 2012 gang-related murders of Sandip Duhre and Sukhveer Dhak.

Duhre, 36, was shot dead in January 2012 as he sat at a table inside the restaurant at the Sheraton Wall Centre on Burrard street.

In 2012, sources told CBC News Duhre and Dhak were the leaders of a gang believed responsible for the fatal shooting of Red Scorpion Jonathan Bacon in an attack in front of a Kelowna hotel on a summer afternoon nearly seven years ago.

Larry Ronald Amero, 40, has been arrested for conspiracy to commit Duhre's murder and one count of conspiracy in connection with Dhak's murder, police said in a statement. Amero was believed to have been with Bacon in a white Porsche SUV when Bacon was killed.

The two other men charged in the 2012 slayings — Dean Michael Wiwchar and Rabih (Robby) Alkhalil — are currently in custody for a seperate targeted attack in Toronto.

All three men are set to appear via video.

Sandhip Duhre's body, seen through the window outside the restaurant where he was killed. (CBC)

Ontario 'hitman' charged

Last year, Wiwchar and Alkhalil were among four men found guilty of arranging a brazen daytime killing at a crowded Toronto café as part of a feud among drug traffickers. Nicola Nero and Martino Caputo were also convicted.

The four had been on trial for the death of John Raposo, who was shot on the patio of the Sicilian Sidewalk Café on the afternoon of June 18, 2012, as soccer fans gathered to watch a Euro Cup game.

The group orchestrated the hit on their rival partly because they believed he had ratted Nero out to authorities, prosecutors said.

Nero, Caputo and Alkhalil plotted to steal a 200-kilogram shipment of cocaine from Raposo, split the money between them and have him assassinated, court was told.

The funeral of John Raposo, who was shot on the patio of the Sicilian Sidewalk Café on the afternoon of June 18, 2012. (Steven D'Souza/CBC)

The Crown relied partly on encrypted messages it said were exchanged by the men in the months leading up to the shooting.

In at least one message, Wiwchar called himself a contract killer who commanded a $100,000 fee, the court heard.

Prosecutors alleged Wiwchar travelled from Vancouver for the job and donned an elaborate disguise in an effort to evade authorities.

Pressure to crack down

Wiwchar's alleged involvement in the murder of Duhre was brought up in a B.C. Supreme Court ruling in 2015, when Wiwchar was charged with possession of restricted firearms.

According to court documents, police found evidence connecting Wiwchar to the getaway vehicle, as well as witness testimony matching his description.

Officers interviewed witnesses at a nearby restaurant on Broadway. (Gian-Paolo Mendoza/CBC)

SFU criminologist Rob Gordon suspects investigators had been gathering intelligence on the alleged attackers for years, but have felt greater pressure to clamp down on gang violence since the death of Alfred Wong — a 15-year-old bystander that was shot in a targeted attack on Broadway.

"Police have known where [Larry Amero] was for a long time," said Gordon. "I think there was some pressure on the VPD and others to give a demonstration of their power and their capacity to arrest these guys — and so they did."

"There's a lot of pressure placed on the government, which in turn trickles down onto the police [to] get these people under control, so the VPD and RCMP start running around looking for easy targets."

A memorial for 15-year-old Alfred Wong emerged at the intersection of Broadway and Ontario. (Christer Waara/CBC)