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'Most-wanted' alleged gangster returns to B.C. for murder, conspiracy charges

Conor Vincent D’Monte was being held in custody in Puerto Rico where he was arrested in 2022. He appeared in B.C. Supreme Court on March 22.
Conor D’Monte was considered one of Canada's most-wanted criminals for allegedly murdering a high-ranking member of the Red Scorpions gang.

After a decade-long manhunt, a suspected B.C. gangster is back in British Columbia to stand trial for his alleged part in a gang-related killing.

Conor Vincent D’Monte was being held in custody in Puerto Rico where he was arrested in 2022 after years of being sought by police for his alleged role in a gang-related homicide.

He was considered one of Canada’s most-wanted fugitives.

Now, he's in a Canadian pre-trial centre and had a brief B.C. Supreme Court hearing on March 22.

D’Monte was charged with first-degree murder in the Feb. 6, 2009 death of Kevin Leclair, who was gunned down mid-afternoon as he sat in his truck in a Langley mall parking lot.

He was also charged with conspiracy to kill Red Scorpions gangsters Jonathan, Jarrod and Jamie Bacon.

The Combined Forces Special Enforcement Unit of British Columbia (CFSEU-BC) said it worked closely with the United States Marshals Service, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, Canada Border Services Agency, Canadian Department of Justice, Canadian Consular Services, and the Integrated Homicide Investigation Team.

“CFSEU-BC and police will not stop until we catch those wanted for violent crimes,” said assistant commissioner Manny Mann, CFSEU-BC’s chief officer. “CFSEU-BC is now focused on supporting the prosecution of Conor D’Monte.”

The other cases

On Jan. 13, 2022, B.C.’s Court of Appeal rejected the case of Cory Vallee, a Lower Mainland gang member convicted of first-degree murder and conspiracy to commit murder.

“The theory of the Crown was that Vallee was a hired hit man of the UN (United Nations) gang and was culpable in both the conspiracy to murder and the murder of Leclair,” the appeal ruling said.

During the lengthy 2016-2018 B.C. Supreme Court trial, the defence admitted the existence of a UN gang conspiracy led by Clayton Roueche to murder the Bacons and their associates between January 2008 and February 2009.

Among issues Vallee appealed were findings he was part of that conspiracy and that he murdered Leclair.

B.C. Supreme Court Justice Janice Dillon found that Vallee was the shooter of an AR‑15 automatic rifle in the case.

Dillon noted Vallee was introduced to UN high-level members by Roueche as “Frankie” and given the role as a hit man in the search to kill members of the Bacon group.

The appeal court said Dillon “did not have a reasonable doubt that Vallee was a member of the conspiracy.”

Much of the guilty verdict rested on the evidence from other gangsters which Vallee’s appeal lawyers said should be treated as suspect and not credible.

“The judge made extensive and detailed credibility findings based on the mountain of evidence she heard,” the three-judge appeal panel heard. “We find no error demonstrated on which to interfere with her findings. We do not consider that there is any merit to this ground of appeal.

The appeal also dealt with the application for a mistrial stemming from late admission of video evidence. The video footage showed Vallee in a restaurant near the homicide scene with other gang members hours before the killing.

The defence had sought a mistrial on the admission of the late evidence. Dillon rejected that.

The appeal court found Dillon made no error in law in declining the mistrial application.

Turf war and death bounties

The appeal ruling said the conspiracy to murder and the shooting of Leclair were part of a years-long turf war, including multiple murders and non-fatal shootings.

The war between the UN gang on one side and the Bacon Brothers and Red Scorpions on the other was over the illegal supply of drugs.

Leclair was a former member of the UN gang who had crossed over to the Bacon Brothers, the court said.

The UN gang came to police attention in the 1990s; Dillon said the groups ran drug lines with connections throughout B.C., Calgary, the United States and Mexico.

The court said the Bacon Brothers and Red Scorpions were criminal organizations also active in British Columbia during that period. “They began cooperating together around 2007, and through that cooperation expanded their size and control over illegal drug activity in the Lower Mainland,” the court said.

Dillon’s ruling said the United Nations engaged in intelligence gathering on the Bacon Brothers/Red Scorpions and had developed a hit list.

She said there were bounties on the heads of the Bacon Brothers and Red Scorpions. The largest were for the Bacon brothers, starting from an initial amount of $100,000 but growing to perhaps as much as $300,000.

The Bacon Brothers

Jonathan Bacon was gunned down in Kelowna in August 2011.

Jarrod Bacon was released from prison in early 2021 after being sentenced in May 2012 to a 14 years in prison for conspiracy to traffic cocaine when living in Abbotsford.

James Bacon was sentenced in 2020 to 18 years in prison for his conspiracy role in the so-called Surrey Six killings in 2007. There, six people were gunned down, among them two bystanders with no connections to the drug world.