A full-patched Hells Angels Nomad chapter member from Ottawa has pleaded guilty to a charge arising from a massive three-community drug trafficking investigation that culminated with numerous arrests a year ago.
Joshua Khosrowkhani, 33, who was facing five charges arising from his arrest Aug. 1, 2019, and was in custody at the Sudbury Jail, pleaded guilty Wednesday to cocaine possession for the purpose of trafficking.
A sentencing date will be set next Wednesday.
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Khosrowkhani, who was in custody due to a surety surrender after he had been granted bail, was released from custody pending his sentencing.
His bail conditions include that he is to live at a residence in Chesterville, have no contact with co-accused in the case or anyone he knows to have a criminal record, not possess weapons or illegal drugs, not to associate with anyone involved in a motorcycle gang, and not to display any Hells Angels emblems, colors or paraphernalia.
When he initially got bail, Khosrowkhani had to make a $4,000 deposit. That deposit remains in effect.
While no pre-sentence report was ordered, the court heard Khosrowkhani has a prior record.
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Ottawa lawyer Neil Weinstein is representing Khosrowkhani. He and Crown prosecutor Claude Richer both attended court via teleconference.
The court heard that in the summer of 2018, Niagara Regional Police, Greater Sudbury Police and the Ontario Provincial Police started a joint investigation into a cocaine trafficking ring that operated across Ontario, including Greater Sudbury.
Dubbed Project Skylark, the investigation included the wiretapping of communications in April and June of 2019. Officers were investigating a network of drug trafficking in Nova Scotia and Ontario, concentrating on the Red Devils motorcycle club and the Hells Angels Nomads chapter. Khosrowkhani, a full-patch member of the Nomads chapter, was identified as one of three “targets” by police.
Wiretapped communications uncovered that Khosrowkhani was involved in the sale of cannabis products ranging in price from $250 to $300 an ounce.
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The court also heard that Khosrowkhani was not employed in any capacity in 2018.
On Aug. 1, 2019, a search warrant executed at Khosrowkhani’s Richmond Road residence turned up a wide variety of items including 119.78 grams of cocaine in a Ziploc bag, 1.05 grams of MDMA (an amphetamine derivative) in a bag, 102.72 grams of cannabis marijuana in a bag, two packages of cannabis edibles, varying amounts of other cannabis products, and $10,500 in cash. Officers found most of the money in a paper bag.
The cocaine was tested and found to be of just 10 per cent purity, said Richer.
Weinstein said Khosrowkhani admits to having the items that were seized by police and what he had pleaded guilty to, but nothing regarding the actions of any other individuals mentioned in the agreed statement of facts.
In early August of 2019, police announced at a news conference in Niagara Falls that Project Skylark investigated members and associates of the Hells Angels Nomads, Red Devils Motorcycle Club and the Hooligans Motorcycle Club associated with the trafficking of cocaine, methamphetamine, and fentanyl in the Niagara Region, Sudbury and Ottawa.
“The results of this investigation have significantly impacted the Hells Angels Nomads and Red Devils MC drug trafficking network,” OPP Superintendent Bryan MacKillop said at the time. “We want to send a clear message that law enforcement agencies are working together to hold (outlaw motorcycle gangs) accountable for trafficking and distributing these drugs that are taking the lives of people in our communities.
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“This investigation will be ongoing, and anyone linked to these criminal enterprises could be subject to further investigation.”
MacKillop said it was important for police to disrupt the drug trade in Ontario.
“Outlaw motorcycle gangs are associated to other forms of organized crime across this country,” he told reporters at the news conference. “It’s the network they utilize to be able to peddle their goods that’s so important, and having disabled and disrupted this particular network will have a significant impact on the drug trade in Ontario.”
The Ontario Provincial Police Organized Crime Enforcement Bureau, the Niagara Regional Police Service, Greater Sudbury Police Service, Ottawa Police Service, and Hamilton Police Service carried out the 14-month investigation.
About 6 a.m. Aug. 1, search warrants were executed across the province, including five at locations in Greater Sudbury.
Police in Greater Sudbury seized about $420,000 worth of drugs, including methamphetamine, fentanyl, cocaine, and shatter. Five handguns, three long guns, and $50,000 in cash were also seized.
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Seven people were arrested and charged in Greater Sudbury as a result of the searches.