Mounties are not expecting any meaningful disruption in the flow of drugs into Kamloops following convictions in B.C. Supreme Court of two high-ranking participants in the local drug trade.
Hugh McIntosh was found guilty last week of the first-degree murder of Jason Glover and the attempted murder of Kelly Callfas, while Gordon Braaten pleaded guilty to manslaughter with a firearm in connection to the Feb. 15, 2019, shootings.
“It doesn’t really change anything, frankly. The moment they were in jail, any possible void created by them was immediately filled,” Kamloops RCMP Staff Sgt. Simon Pillay said, noting that is simply the nature of organized crime.
While there’s always some group or individual ready to step into another’s place, police, he said, remain focused on violent offenders and thoroughly investigative serious crimes.
“It’s very important to get justice in these serious person crimes,” Pillay said. “Whenever I have an opportunity to speak with drug traffickers, I always point out to them police investigate the participants who are engaged in violence and using firearms in our community.”
He said he hopes those who are still engaged in the drug trade in Kamloops, which he described as a small number, realize from this court result that using violence will attract the police and land them in jail.
Via video conference during McIntosh’s trial, Callfas testified she has stopped using and selling drugs since being shot.
Kamloops RCMP Supt. Syd Lecky described the trial as a “big one” for the Kamloops RCMP.
“I have no problem telling you Gordie Braaten was a problem for us in this community and I’m quite pleased to see him in jail,” Lecky said, noting the convictions of both Braaten and McIntosh are good for Kamloops.
The McIntosh and Braaten murder case was one of a string of gang violence investigated by police between 2018 and 2019, all involving drug traffickers at the managerial level struggling for control in the wake of the gangland slaying of Red Scorpions co-founder Konaam Shirzad on Sept. 21, 2017.
Lecky described the gang violence seen in 2018 and 2019 as some of the worst ever in Kamloops.
Asked if there’s a concern newcomers filling the void left by Braaten and McIntosh will lead to more gang violence, Pillay said police thus far haven’t seen another wave of managerial-level conflict.
“Those things, they come and go out of nowhere. Often times these major conflicts arise even internally,” Pillay said.
“We could have a gang war break loose tomorrow and we won’t know until it’s happening.”
He added that some of that infighting was responsible for the rash of violence in 2018 and 2019.
Since then, Pillay said, police have not seen the high-level conflicts, but rather violence at the lower end of the drug scene.
“I’m talking about street level traffickers collecting low-level debts using unnecessary violence,” Pillay said. “We’re always targeting those who are using violence, regardless of their position in the hierarchy, but we have not seen the level of drug line versus drug line violence that we did back then.”
Police believe the shooting death of a man in his 20s in a room at the Howard Johnson Inn at 530 Columbia St. on Feb. 13 — the first murder of 2021 in Kamloops — to be connected to low-level drug trade activity.
Mounties have identified suspects in that investigation, but have yet to make any arrests.
“That is a unit priority for the serious crimes crew and they are working on it actively every day, but these things take time,” Pillay said.
He said the January 2019 double homicide of Cody Mathieu and Rex Gill, who were gunned down outside separate hotels, also remains an active investigation and a high priority for the serious crimes unit.
The murders were among the high-level wave of violence seen between 2018 and 2019, but Gill, police believe, was killed in a case of mistaken identity.