Metro Vancouver properties subject to civil forfeiture

VANCOUVER — More than $7.5 million in Metro Vancouver property, as well as bank accounts, have been frozen in a B.C. Supreme Court suit filed by the province that alleges the assets are proceeds of drug trafficking.

In a legal action filed this summer, the B.C. Civil Forfeiture Office seeks to permanently seize six homes in Burnaby, Coquitlam, Maple Ridge and Mission it alleges were linked to drug trafficking and used to launder money.

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In the suit filed in B.C. Supreme Court, the civil forfeiture office alleges an auto and appliance repair business was used as a front to conceal the money generated by the alleged drug operation ring.

In its court filing, the civil forfeiture office also claims failure to declare taxable income.

The provincial agency also seeks to have forfeited $200,000 in cash — some of it in U.S. and Mexican currency — as well as jewelry and other items seized by New Westminster Police during an investigation that uncovered the alleged drug trafficking ring dealing in cocaine, heroin, fentanyl and methamphetamine.

The freezing order was extended in a court order this fall preventing the properties from being sold or mortgaged.

The court case was moved to Vancouver from Victoria in December.

Named in the suit are Ashok Kumar Naidu, also known as Roy Naidu; Gina Chinamma Naidu; Avenel Anish Naidu; Can Auto Electric & Appliance Repair Ltd.; and Alisha Ann Watkins.

Avenel Naidu and Ashok Naidu are directors of Can Auto Electric, which owns one of the properties.

The defendants have not responded to the civil forfeiture office’s claim. The suit includes allegations that have not been proven in court. The defendants have not been charged criminally. The threshold for proving a civil forfeiture claim is lower than for a criminal conviction, a balance of probabilities instead of beyond a reasonable doubt.

The civil forfeiture office’s claim filed in court outlines the findings of a New Westminster Police investigation in 2017 and 2018. The police findings allege that Avenel Naidu was one of the operators of the drug ring and that one of the properties in Burnaby was being used as a storage and meeting location by the drug ring.

On June 20, 2018 police obtained warrants to search multiple locations in Metro Vancouver, according to the civil suit.

Among items seized were more than two kilograms of cocaine, caffeine, fentanyl, heroin and methamphetamine in various packages and mixtures.

Other items seized by police included U-47700, an opioid analgesic drug that has 7.5 times the potency of morphine; tablets of Tadalafil, also known as Cialis; capsules of the drug MDA; phenacetin, an agent used to cut cocaine; and a small amount of marijuana.

Also seized were cans of bear spray, scales, hard-knuckle gloves, a 9mm loaded Luger pistol with the serial number scratched off, a stolen and loaded 9mm Norcino pistol, more than two dozen cellphones, designer hand bags and jewelry.

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