Former Red Scorpion gang leader Michael Le – who struck a plea deal in November and admitted to his role in the Surrey Six murders – began testifying against his two former co-accused and fellow gang members Tuesday, saying he attempted to iron out a dispute between victim Corey Lal and gangster Jamie Bacon before the mass slaughter.
Cody Haevischer and Matt Johnston are currently on trial, each faced with six counts of first-degree murder in connection with the execution-style shooting of six men in a Surrey apartment building on Oct. 19, 2007.
Le, now 29, was originally charged with first-degree murder and conspiracy in connection with the case, but pleaded guilty to only the conspiracy charge late last year. He received a 12-year jail sentence, minus double credit for the four-and-a-half years he’d already served, leaving about three years remaining of his sentence.
The media was banned from reporting details of his plan to work with Crown and testify against Haevischer and Johnston until Monday, when B.C. Supreme Court Justice Catherine Wedge set aside the publication ban. Publication of Le’s image or description of him are still banned.
In B.C. Supreme Court on Tuesday, the court heard that Le was charged with murder as a youth and met Johnston and Red Scorpion (RS) gang co-founder Konaam Shirzad in jail. Le said he started drug trafficking in Surrey at age 18 and quickly found success, bringing in others to help operate dial-a-dope lines.
Johnston, he said, suggested expanding his drug business to New Westminster, where Le said he made as much as $150,000 per month. Making such big money meant he could recruit new members, Le said, and Johnston vouched for Haevischer to join the Red Scorpions.
It was after being arrested in April 2006 and serving time that Le said he met Person X (who pleaded guilty to the Surrey Six murders several years ago and whose name is banned from publication).
He then met Bacon (left), who was also in prison. The two became friends, Le said, and he told Bacon about the Red Scorpions. After their release, the pair started working together and Le said he supplied Bacon with cocaine. They soon talked about merging Bacon’s crew with the Red Scorpions so they could expand their drug dealing business.
The merger, Le told the court, took place in the summer of 2007 and was beneficial because it made the gang larger, meaning “more people respect you and fear you.” He said it enabled the gang to set up more drug lines and “nobody would touch you.”
The newly merged RS gang would meet twice a week, Le said, while he and Bacon would have private meetings every couple of days. Le noted prior to the gang merger, he never wore protective body armour, but did afterwards. He agreed with Crown that he considered Bacon a “risk.”
Talk about friction between Bacon and Corey Lal began shortly after the merger, Le said, adding Lal was partners with Eddie Narong in the drug trade. They got their heroin from Sophon Sek (who is also charged in connection to the Surrey Six case but is being tried separately), said Le.
Le knew Narong from middle school. He testified he met with Lal to attempt to iron out the issues between Lal and Bacon. But the problems persisted.
“He’s a little bitch, I’m going to jack him,” Le testified Bacon told him.
Bacon is charged with one count of first-degree murder and one of conspiracy to murder Lal, but is being tried separately at a later date.
The Crown’s theory is that Lal was the intended target of the 2007 slaughter, but that five others – Lal’s brother Michael Lal, Narong, and Ryan Bartolomeo, who all had drug ties, and bystanders Chris Mohan and Ed Schellenberg – were killed to eliminate any witnesses. It’s alleged Bacon (along with Le) enlisted Haevischer, Johnston and Person X to carry out the murders.
During his November guilty plea, Le admitted he gave the go-ahead for Lal’s murder, but never intended for the other five to be killed.
The trial continues.