Alleged leader of drug-trafficking ring has violent history: retired police officer

The alleged ringleader of a major Western Canadian drug trafficking operation has a violent criminal history, according to a retired police officer.

Mohammad Khan, 39, arrested as part of 10-month investigation which nabbed 6 Winnipeggers

As a result of a 10-month investigation that involved five police forces, police say they have busted a complex drug network that was operating across the Western provinces, resulting in $2.7 million in drugs, cash, and vehicles being seized. (Warren Kay/CBC)

The alleged ringleader of a major Western Canadian drug trafficking operation has a violent criminal history, according to a retired police officer.

Mohammad Khan was arrested in November along with 10 other people — including six from Winnipeg — in connection with Project Riverbank. Khan is well-known to Doug Spencer, a Vancouver-based gang expert who retired from policing in November.

Khan, 39, and his brother have been connected to numerous shootings and other incidents in the Vancouver area, Spencer said.

"They're very well known out here. They're associated with Indo-Canadian gangs, the Hells Angels," said Spencer.

The B.C. director of civil forfeiture filed a lawsuit in the B.C. Supreme Court on Nov. 2, 2018, seeking to seize a Mercedes vehicle, along with a semi-truck and several high-end vehicles belonging to Khan's co-accused, Allan Rodney.

"Mr. Khan has a criminal record that includes convictions for assault, firearms offences, possession of a controlled substance for the purpose of trafficking, and dangerous operation of a motor vehicle causing bodily harm," the notice of civil claim says. Khan also has a lifetime firearms ban.

Spencer has met Khan a number of times over the years and describes him as "extremely anti-police" and "ultra-violent."

Police allege Khan has ties to the Independent Soldiers street gang in B.C. and is a member of the Wolfpack, an alliance of the Independent Soldiers, Hells Angels and Red Scorpions in B.C.

According to court documents, Winnipeg police initially started investigating Daniel Finkbeiner, a member of the Notorious Bloodz street gang. This eventually led them to focus on Khan and his network, which they say was routinely shipping kilos of cocaine and other drugs from B.C. to Winnipeg.

Spencer says the Wolfpack regularly use other street gangs to sell their drugs.

"The Wolfpack they actually use a lot of young Aboriginal guys to traffic their drugs on the street out here and probably across Canada. So that would be the connection to Winnipeg," he said.

Khan has numerous associates in B.C., many of whom are dead or in jail, Spencer said. He first heard of Khan and his brother more than a decade ago when one of them was found with a gun inside a downtown Vancouver nightclub. After that, he said Khan's name would appear in reports "almost every weekend," Spencer said.

Police believe the Wolfpack formed as early as 2010 and Khan has been a member since 2012.

Project Riverbank

Police allege Khan was behind an operation in which semi drivers Allan Ronald Rodney, 70, and Shontal Kathleen Vaupotic, 32, both of Surrey, B.C., trucked drugs across the Prairies to Winnipeg. There, they were stashed at a number of properties, diluted with cutting agents and distributed for sale by dealers, police say.

Khan and Winnipeggers Mason Joaquin Burg, 24, and Daniel Jason Finkbeiner, 30, along with Herbert Mejia-Orellana-Delgado, 29, of Edmonton, met Rodney and Vaupotic when they arrived in Winnipeg with the drugs.

These allegations have not been proven in court.

During the 10-month investigation, police set up surveillance cameras at multiple properties which Khan and his associates used as "stash houses."

Police believe Khan, who has multiple bank accounts and also flips houses, was earning $640,000 to $720,000 per month. The house flipping may have facilitated money laundering,

The director of criminal property and forfeiture filed a statement of claim in Court of Queen's Bench on Oct. 31, 2018, to seize houses and vehicles owned by Khan, which they allege were purchased with proceeds of crime.

In a statement of defence filed on Nov. 21, 2018, Khan says he "was not an integral part of any large scale drug trafficking network." He also says, "in the alternative, any involvement of [Khan] in drug trafficking did not result in significant profits to him which were then used to purchase or fund any of the assets being sought for forfeiture."

About the Author

Cameron MacLean

Web Writer

Cameron MacLean is a journalist living in Winnipeg, Man. where he was born and raised. He has more than a decade of experience covering news in the city and across the province, working in print, radio, television and online.