Gang link sparks police interest at Chilliwack service

A memorial service in Chilliwack for a man with links to the drug world was scrutinized by local police and members of the RCMP's Integrated Gang Task Force last Saturday.

A memorial service in Chilliwack for a man with links to the drug world was scrutinized by local police and members of the RCMP’s Integrated Gang Task Force last Saturday.

“We were there and so were members of the gang task force,” Chilliwack RCMP Cpl. Lea-Anne Dunlop confirmed Monday.

Although gang activity appears to have declined in the Lower Mainland following a number of arrests, including the conviction of UN Gang leader Clayton Roueche in a U.S. court, RCMP Sgt. Shinder Kirk said police investigators remain “vigilant.”

“There’s always something going on in the organized crime world,” said Kirk, spokesman for the integrated task force. “By no means are we letting our guard down.”

The memorial service for Nick Kocoski, 25, held at a Chilliwack hotel, is not the first to draw police attention.

A March, 2005 funeral attended by Chilliwack-raised Roueche and by other UN Gang members was also watched by police investigating alleged gang activity. A five-foot tall black granite monument emblazoned with the UN crest and Chinese characters that read “Warrior of United Nations” marks the gravesite of two purported gang members.

Guests at a birthday party in June, 2008, for Clayton Eheler, who was the target of two drive-by shooting attempts in Chilliwack, were stopped and screened by police.

Kocoski, who reportedly died of a drug overdose, was implicated by police investigators in cross-border drug smuggling after he was arrested in September, 2006 near Rimrock, Wash. with another man, Joshua Hildebrandt, flying a Piper Cherokee airplane rented in Chilliwack.

No drugs were found in the airplane, but Kocoski later pleaded guilty to entering the U.S. illegally.

Chilliwack realtor Michael Gordon, who was shot to death in August, 2008, reportedly crossed the border to help bail Kocoski out of custody. Gordon was also allegedly close to Roueche, who attended highschool in Chilliwack.

Roueche is now serving 30 years in jail after pleading guilty in December, 2009, to charges of drug smuggling and money laundering.

rfreeman@theprogress.com