Pubdate: Mon, 11 Oct 2004
Source: London Free Press (CN ON)
Copyright: 2004 The London Free Press a division of Sun Media Corporation.
Author: Randy Richmond, and Jane Sims


Bar staff called them the Heineken crew. The men sat in the same dark
side room of London's Scots Corner pub on Monday hip-hop nights.

They wanted privacy. They always came in late, an hour or so before

They unscrewed the pot lights above the table to keep the area dark.
They kept their hoods up. They called each other by their street
names. They always ordered Heineken beer, a couple each, before leaving.

They were, according to sources, some of London's best known drug

In the bar early on April 22, 2003, were two other men with ties to
the drug trade.

Olutobi Johnson, 26, had been charged the year before with possession
of cocaine for the purpose of trafficking.

Michael Allen, 32, was carrying a bag of cocaine.

By the end of the night, both were riddled with bullets. One would
miraculously survive. The other would die within hours.

That both were from Toronto is no surprise to police. London is a
fertile market for illegal drugs, attracting both homegrown and
travelling salespeople from Toronto.

A lot of drugs come through Toronto airport and down the Highway 401
corridor to Kitchener, London and Windsor.

"It is certainly not uncommon to have investigations at street level
(in London) involving people from Toronto," says Cpl. Rick Griffin of
the RCMP in London.

Until this year, Allen had never been convicted of trafficking, though
he had been convicted of possession. But Toronto police Det. John
Brigham, who investigated another shooting Allen was linked to, said
he understood Allen did "do the circuit with regards to his drug trade."

It appears Johnson might have been a rival salesperson on the same
Southern Ontario circuit.

A search warrant executed at a Cambridge apartment Sept. 13, 2002,
turned up 6.8 grams of cocaine and four grams of cannabis resin.
Johnson was picked up by police and charged with trafficking. Those
charges were still outstanding when he was shot.

Toronto dealers often front the product to people they meet in other
cities, such as London, Griffin says.

"London, Kitchener and Windsor quite commonly involve people who are
in a network of dealers."

Out-of-town drug dealers have been involved in killings in London

Kenneth Thompson, 27, was gunned down on Dec. 4, 1997, after an
ill-fated meeting in a Westlake Street parking lot between two Toronto
drug dealers and their friends, including Thompson, and three Windsor

Windsor drug dealer William Talbot, 26 at the time, later was
acquitted of murder after his lawyer argued he acted in self-defence.
He was carrying a loaded gun he planned to trade in Toronto for
cocaine, re-establishing his illegal drug and gun businesses.

On July 14, 2001, 11 days after his acquittal, Talbot was found dead
on a London street, shot in the head. The shot was so clean, police
didn't know how he died when they found him.

Everton Thomas, 30, a Jamaican citizen, was charged with Talbot's
slaying in November 2002. He still has to be tried.

There was much talk at the time of Talbot's death about the Jamaican
Posse's involvement in London's drug scene.

That term has become so widely used to describe black drug dealers it
has lost its meaning, says Det. Sgt Gary Keys, of Toronto's guns and
gangs task force.

"The gangs are usually somewhat in flux," Keys notes.

There are different levels of organizations, too, from scavenger gangs
of kids that last a week or two to organized crime groups with
connections overseas.

There's no evidence suggesting Johnson or Allen were members of

Johnson, though, was a member of a hip-hop crew in Flemingdon Park in
Toronto that sold drugs, in part to raise money to make rap demos.

You can't sell drugs and you can't get guns unless you're at least
connected to gangs, Keys says.

Mixed into the network of the shifting gangs and travelling drug
dealers are local dealers.

Though some might work with out-of-towners, other locals run their own
distribution networks, police say.

And there's a large crack and cocaine network in London.

Two months after the shooting at Scots Corner, London police completed
a five-month undercover operation by arresting more than 100 people in
connection with the sale and use of crack cocaine.

At least five people interviewed or sought by police in the Scots
Corner shooting also were arrested in the crack sweep.

Several of them were identified by other sources as members of the
Heineken crew.

At the time of the Scots Corner shooting, there was talk among
London's criminals the shooting was related to rival drug gangs.

Dealers do get upset when someone cuts into their profits, the RCMP's
Griffin notes.

"There are all kinds of competing groups," adds London police Det.
John Carson.

"They're all in it to get as much as they can. They'll sell as much as
they can and do as much as they can."

They may also sell out their competitors.

Two months ago, Londoner Trevor Yake, a key witness and the man who
helped Allen out of the bar after the shooting, was charged with
running a cocaine operation out of his house.

The search warrant that led to Yake's arrest proves there's little
honour among some dealers.

Police began their investigation based on an informant, "a member of
the drug culture," selling out Yake to get a better deal on his or her
own charges.

A second source "very familiar with various controlled substances and
their price structure" provided further information for money.

Despite the shaky loyalties in the drug world, despite the out-and-out
rivalries and despite evidence Allen, Johnson and several others at
Scots Corner the night of the shooting were involved in the drug
trade, police have never said drugs were the reason for Johnson's killing.

Drugs, though, created the path that led the men to a shooting. Drugs
walk hand in hand with guns.

"All kinds of weapons are associated with the drug trade," Griffin

Guns are a fact of the drug world that officers and dealers alike
ignore at their own peril.

"Most drug officers assume they (dealers) are carrying weapons,"
Griffin says.

"If you don't make that assumption, you might find yourself not going
home at the end of the shift."

Some of the Ten Crack Commandments, by the now dead, former crack
dealer, and former rap star Notorious B.I.G.

- - "Never trust nobody."

- - "Never keep no weight on you."

- - "Never let em know your next move."

- - "Keep your family and business completely separated."

A few things to keep in mind about drug dealers, from

- - Drug dealers usually possess guns.

- - One reason they keep guns is to protect themselves and their
supplies from the threat of ripoffs by customers and other dealers.

- - The drug trade has room for freelancers, but most work in gangs or
are connected to gangs.

- - Highway 401 is just another street.
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