Kamloops man accused of leading drug ring, laundering millions

41-year-old arrested in Mexico accused of purchasing cocaine, ordering kidnappings, torture

A Kamloops man arrested last month in Mexico is alleged to be the leader of a violent drug smuggling ring that brought large shipments of cocaine into the United States across its southern border.

John Darrell Krokos, 41, is also accused of laundering millions in drug profits, as well as ordering the kidnapping and torture of one of his underlings who claimed U.S. authorities had seized a load of cocaine last year.

Krokos has no criminal record in B.C. and police here declined to comment on whether they were aware of the U.S. accusations against him.

But an indictment filed in Los Angeles on May 31, 2012 alleges the Krokos "drug trafficking organization" was purchasing hundreds of kilos of cocaine in both Mexico and the U.S. for distribution across California and as far north as the B.C. border.

Krokos, who is also known as Walter, Lord of the Beach, Hulk and JJ, was paraded in front of Mexican reporters when he was arrested in Puerto Vallarta, June 6. He was described at the time as an American, arrested by Mexican state police at the request of the U.S.

But a spokesman for the U.S. Attorney's office in L.A. confirmed to The Vancouver Sun that Krokos is in fact a Canadian from Kamloops.

He had been living in an exclusive Puerto Vallarta neighbourhood for about three years.

Krokos is one of a number of B.C. residents believed to be active in the international drug trade who have relocated to Mexico. Six have ended up dead since 2006 - most recently longtime trafficker Tom Gisby, who was gunned down in a Puerto Vallarta Starbucks on April 28.

U.S. authorities had been watching Krokos for years, according to the indictment, which explains how Krokos unwittingly spoke to an undercover cop in October 2009 "using coded language over a telephone."

The officer began providing the Krokos group with encrypted BlackBerrys the following month in Puerto Vallarta. Over the next several months, Krokos met several times with the cops to buy more BlackBerrys he believed he could use without detection to broker his deals.

The devices provided by police were used for his business for more than a year, with U.S. authorities extracting the cryptic exchanges that they allege are proof of cocaine-for-cash deals.

From July 15, 2010 to Sept. 26, 2011, U.S. authorities documented the distribution and sale of more than 220 kilograms of cocaine and almost $4.3 million in profits linked to the gang, the indictment alleges. Twenty members of the Krokos organization are now facing charges in California.

"Defendant Krokos, in furtherance of the Krokos Drug Trafficking Organization, would purchase cocaine from suppliers in the United States and Mexico," the indictment states.

It also alleges that Krokos and two co-accused "would kidnap, torture and arrange to kidnap and torture co-conspirators who they believed stole cocaine and money from them."

Specifics of one incident in May 2011 are laid out in the 38-page court document: Krokos got a call from an associate saying another member of the gang had lied about police seizing 44 kilos of cocaine. As punishment, the man was kidnapped and tortured, Krokos was told.

The torture victim's son was forced to pay more than $400,000 as ransom, the indictment says.

No trial date for Krokos has yet been fixed.

University of the Fraser Valley criminologist Darryl Plecas said with the explosion of gang activity in B.C. in recent years, it's inevitable that some local players would advance to become international brokers in the drug trade.

Aside from Krokos and the late Gisby, who died in April, Nanaimo drug trafficker Nicholas Michael Lucier was picked up by Mexican police in May and sent back to B.C.

On Jan. 16, United Nations gangster Sal Sahbaz, also from B.C., was executed in Sinaloa state. Two other UN members from here were killed in Guadalajara in July 2008.

And two Kamloops men, Gordon Kendall and Jeffrey Ivans, were gunned down outside their Puerto Vallarta condo in September 2009. Canadian authorities confirmed at the time that they had links to the drug trade.

"They have escaped the claws of justice and they have undoubtedly gotten bigger," Plecas said of B.C. gangsters setting up shop in Mexico. "Somebody still has to be making those connections because the drug world is alive and well. As people get bumped off … there are others wanting to take their place. I bet you there are a fair number of those people out there yet."

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