A transnational drug criminal from Vancouver, who was linked by police to a notorious underground Richmond bank, was sentenced to 14-and-a-half years in a U.S. prison Oct. 20.
Central District of California Judge John Kronstadt handed down the sentence in Los Angeles, following a jury’s March conviction of Vincent Yen Tek Chiu, 44, for conspiracy to distribute and export controlled substances, and distribution of cocaine, heroin and MDMA.
Chiu, who also went by nicknames “El Chino” and “Tiger of Mexico,” arranged to bring bulk cocaine to Canada in exchange for bulk exports of MDMA to the U.S. He employed a sophisticated cross-border distribution network that relied on encrypted mobile phones and 18-wheel trucks. Investigators believe the shipments were worth more than $3 million on the wholesale market.
More than a dozen defendants were involved in the scheme and police seized nearly 1,000 pounds of cocaine, nine kilograms of heroin, 46 kg of methamphetamine and 46 kg of ecstasy, as well as more than $800,000 in Canadian cash.
Five others have received jail terms, four of whom are Californians and the fifth a Vancouverite, Anthony Louis Lam. The 37-year-old is serving a four-year prison sentence.
Investigators say the operation involved members of Canadian, Mexican, Serbian, Chinese, and Sudanese gangs, some of whom used coded language and military-grade, end-to-end encrypted devices to hide their communications.
In April, two Metro Vancouver men charged in the same U.S. investigation met different fates.
Tenny Guon Lim and Dario Antonio Baruca were indicted in May 2019 by a grand jury for conspiracy to distribute and to possess with intent to distribute controlled substances. B.C. Supreme Court Justice Jeanne Watchuk said there was enough evidence to send Lim south, but not for Baruca.
Chiu’s brother, Richard Yen Fat Chiu, was found dead in Colombia in June 2019. Both were investigated, but not charged, in a probe of Richmond’s Silver International. The Canadian case against Silver International and operators Caixuan Qin and Jian Jun Zhu collapsed in November 2018, when an informant’s identity was errantly revealed to defence lawyers.
Richard Charles Reed and Yuexi Lei are charged with first degree murder after Zhu was gunned down in a Richmond Japanese restaurant in September 2020. Paul King Jin, who was banned from B.C. casinos for alleged loan sharking, survived the attack.
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