Police are investigating the murder of a Kelowna man linked to a cross-border drug smuggling operation that resulted in arrests in Malakwa, Revelstoke and Salmon Arm.
On the night of Feb. 18, Kelowna RCMP officers responding to a report of a single-vehicle collision on Auburn Road found a black SUV that had driven into a lamp post.
A man and a woman were found dead inside the vehicle. Soon after, police determined the victims had not died from the collision, but were murdered.
On Feb. 20, the Southeast District Major Crimes Unit released the victims’ names: 30-year-old Tiffany Goruk and 33-year-old Jeremy Snow, both of Kelowna.
Goruk did not have a criminal record, Snow did. He was one of several individuals arrested in Operation Blade Runner, an investigation by U.S. and Canadian authorities into a cross-border drug smuggling operation, in which marijuana was allegedly being exchanged for cocaine and ecstasy.
“Investigators would like to advise the general public that the murder of these two individuals is not believed to be a random act and advise that there is not a direct threat to the general public,” writes RCMP spokesperson Cpl. Dan Moskaluk in an RCMP news release.
Snow’s was the fourth arrest in Blade Runner. According to the U.S. Department of Justice, he was picked up March 5, 2009 while attempting a drug exchange by helicopter in North Idaho. One-hundred and seventy-four pounds of marijuana were seized in the arrest.
In June 2009, Snow pleaded guilty to a charge of possession with the intent to distribute. He received a 46-month sentence, and was eventually transferred to a Canadian prison before his recent parole.
According to U.S. authorities, the helicopter Snow flew, a Robinson R22, was provided by Joseph Patrick Curry, an associate of the United Nations gang. Curry, named a suspect in Blade Runner, was jailed in 2011 on separate drug charges in the U.S.
Six days prior to Snow’s arrest, Revelstoke’s Samuel Lindsay-Brown, 24, who was arrested in the same investigation, had hung himself in a Spokane County prison. Lindsay-Brown was picked up Feb. 23, 2009 in a chopper that had landed outside Ione, Wash. Authorities seized the craft and the 426 lbs. of pot found inside.
Two more arrests occurred following Snow’s arrest at the helicopter takeoff site in Chilliwack, where 150 lbs. of marijuana and 40,000 ecstasy pills were seized. Further arrests followed in Salmon Arm, Malakwa and Chilliwack.
Malakwa’s Colin Hugh Martin and three others, Sean Doak, Adam Serrano and James Cameron, were arrested in Canada following a U.S. extradition request relating to the smuggling operation. They are each facing a charge of conspiracy to possess with the intent to distribute controlled substances. Doak has already been committed for extradition.
Ross N. Legge of Alberta, and Leonard J. Ferris of Las Vegas, are already serving time for their involvement in the drug-smuggling operation. The two were picked up by the Utah Highway Patrol. Authorities determined the 83 kilograms of cocaine found in their vehicle were destined for the exchange with Brown.
Martin is also facing drug charges at home, including possession for the purpose of trafficking, production of a controlled substance and theft of telecommunication service.
These charges stem from a July 2010 police raid at Martin’s residence and adjacent workshop, which was found to contain a bunker with approximately 3,000 marijuana plants inside.
A supreme court trial is set to begin in Salmon Arm on March 4, and is scheduled to run three weeks.
-With files from the Kelowna Capital News