Tuesday, January 26, 2021

B.C. seeks forfeiture of $1.8m properties allegedly linked to money laundering

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The province seeks to have forfeited two Chilliwack properties valued at $1.8 million that are allegedly linked to drug trafficking and money laundering.

In a notice of application filed in B.C. Supreme Court, the B.C. Civil Forfeiture Office alleges the two homes are proceeds of crime and used to engage in unlawful activity that included drug trafficking of heroin, fentanyl, cocaine, methamphetamine and ketamine.

“Some or all the funds used to acquire and/or maintain the properties were proceeds of the unlawful activity,” says the forfeiture claim filed on Dec. 17 by the director of civil forfeiture.

“By converting the proceeds of the unlawful activity into the properties, the properties were used by the defendants as an instrument of unlawful activity, namely, the laundering of proceeds of crime,” says the claim.

The accusations also include the failure to declare taxable income.

Named in the suit are Cody Daniel Thiessen, Candace Marion Peggy Thiessen and James Potgieter.

The Thiessens own one of the Chilliwack properties the province seeks to have forfeited, at 8393 Chelmsford Place, valued at $1.1 million, according to B.C. Assessment Authority records. Potgieter owns the other property at 5541 Alpine Crescent, valued at $704,000. Both properties are mortgaged.

Neither the Thiessens nor Potgieter have responded to the allegations, which have not been proven in court.

None of the defendants have been charged criminally in relation to the accusations outlined in the forfeiture suit, according to a search of B.C. online court records.

Civil forfeiture actions can be launched without criminal charges being laid. 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.

According to the forfeiture suit, the Chilliwack RCMP began an investigation in November 2019 into a drug trafficking ring in the Chilliwack area.

During the investigation, several individuals were identified as working for Cody Thiessen and Potgieter to traffic drugs, according to the forfeiture claim.

“The individuals subject to the investigation used residences and a storage locker as …  stash locations for the purpose of trafficking in controlled substances,” says the claim.

The RCMP obtained search warrants on cellphones and observed communications with Thiessen and Potgieter consistent with drug trafficking, according to the forfeiture suit.

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“The RCMP obtained copies of cellphone records relating to Mr. Thiessen and Mr. Potgieter which showed communications with known drug traffickers. Mr. Thiessen appeared to be the person in charge and would provide drug trafficking instructions either directly or through Mr. Potgieter,” says the forfeiture claim.

The RCMP conducted surveillance and observed Thiessen and Potgieter meet with known drug traffickers, according to the claim.

During the investigation the RCMP executed search warrants at “stash” properties and located bulk quantities of illegal drugs, large amounts of cash, multiple cellphones, firearms and ammunition.

Among the drugs located were bulk quantities of heroin/fentanyl, cocaine, methamphetamine and ketamine, according to the forfeiture suit.

Also located were cutting agents, containers used for mixing drugs, drug packaging materials, scales and score sheets that are records of transactions that included sales, collections and debts.

The RCMP also found a note with access information for a storage locker associated to Potgieter that contained multiple firearms and ammunition, and also a score sheet, says the claim.

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