Edmonton Alberta - EDMONTON - Two men connected to the Hells Angels Edmonton chapter were found guilty Friday for their part in a drug trafficking ring that supplied large amounts of cocaine to the Fort McMurray area.
Alberta Court of Queen's Bench Justice Sheila Greckol convicted Alan Peter Knapczyk, a 38-year-old Hells Angel member, and John Reginald Alcantara, a 39-year Hells Angels prospect, of conspiring to traffic in cocaine and conspiring to traffic cocaine for the benefit of a criminal organization.
Greckol acquitted the pair on a separate charge of trafficking, saying the Crown failed to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Alcantara or Knapczyk aided in that specific task.
The verdicts are the latest to come from a massive joint forces drug investigation called Project Koker, launched in February 2005, that resulted in numerous charges laid against 18 people in 2006. The investigation saw police use extensive wiretaps and surveillance, in addition to searches.
The investigation came before the courts in several cases.
Originally, Jeffrey Mark Caines, the head of the large-scale cocaine trafficking organization, was jointly charged with Alcantara and Knapczyk. But he was tried separately in October 2011. He pleaded guilty to conspiracy to traffic and possession of proceeds of crime. He was sentenced to a 14-year prison term in October 2011. Previously in 2009, Alcantara was found guilty on a separate set of charges connected to the Project Koker investigation and was sentenced to 14 years for the offences, which included conspiracy to traffic cocaine.
In her 222-page written decision released Friday, Greckol said the Caines' organization was structured to bring cocaine into Fort McMurray at the "multi-kilogram level" for his distributors, and used threats of violence to enforce his will and protect his business operation from competition and interference.
"He also outsourced the enforcement and protection of his business operations to others," Greckol said, including Alcantara and Knapczyk.
"By its alliance with Alcantara and Knapczyk, with the Hells Angels Motorcycle Club, the Caines criminal organization invoked the reputation of the Hells Angels Motorcycle Club for violence and intimidation as a warning to the criminal milieu, including competitors in the drug trafficking world and others in the community, that the organization had 'muscle' to protect its trafficking activities," Greckol wrote.
Later, she added, "It does not matter whether the reputation of the Hells Angels Motorcycle Club in the criminal milieu is justified or not, since the implied message or threat carried by the reputation would be sufficient to maintain order among the distributors, couriers and lower level traffickers."
After the decision, Knapczyk's bail was revoked.
As Knapczyk hugged his crying daughter before sheriffs took him into custody, some supporters of the two men shouted that the pair were innocent. A few swore at the RCMP investigators on hand to hear the verdict.
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