Two men charged in a high-profile Toronto murder are also suspects in the brazen Vancouver shooting of gangster Sandip Duhre in January 2012.
Vancouver police investigators have been building a case against Rabih (Robby) Alkhalil and Dean Wiwchar for the public execution of Duhre in the lobby of the Sheraton Wall Centre 14 months ago.
Both are already facing charges in the targeted murder of Johnnie Raposo last April outside a café in Toronto’s Little Italy.
Wiwchar, who was in B.C. in the months leading up to the Raposo hit, was arrested within days of the Toronto slaying, while Alkhalil was picked up in Greece last month and is facing extradition.
Police sources say that Alkhalil was the mastermind behind the Duhre murder, while Wiwchar was the suspected hitman.
Sources say Wiwchar was captured on video surveillance in the vicinity of the Wall Centre on the night of the murder.
Vancouver Police have refused to comment publicly on the state of the Duhre investigation, aside from saying it remains active.
Duhre’s relatives have been told in recent months that investigators are making good progress. But given that the two suspects are already facing charges in Ontario, there likely wouldn’t be a speedy prosecution in B.C.
No trial date has been set yet in the Ontario case.
Alkhalil, 25, also faces cocaine smuggling charges in Montreal, along with B.C. Hells Angel Larry Amero and several others.
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Alkhalil came to Canada from Saudi Arabia in 1990 with his parents and siblings and made a refugee claim. They settled in Surrey, but relocated to the Ottawa area after two of his brothers were murdered.
Khalil, just 19, was shot to death in Surrey in 2001 and Mamoud, also 19 at the time, was killed in the infamous Loft Six nightclub shooting in downtown Vancouver in August 2003.
Another Alkhalil brother, Nabil, has been ordered deported because of a cocaine trafficking conviction in Ontario. But he remains in Canada because he is stateless.
Alkhalil has been extremely close to Amero in recent years.
Amero was wounded in the August 2011 Kelowna shooting in which Red Scorpion Jon Bacon was killed.
After the shooting, police said members of the Dhak-Duhre crime group could be targeted in retaliation. More than a dozen people linked to the gang have since been killed including Duhre and Sukh Dhak.
Three Dhak associates are now charged with the first degree murder of Bacon.
But hostilities between the Alkhalils and Duhre’s associates date back to the Loft Six shootout.
Wiwchar — along with Philip Juan Ley — is facing a series of firearms charges in B.C., which were laid last June and relate to an investigation from March to May 2012.
Ley was wounded in a Richmond shooting in October 2010 that police said was in retaliation for the Metrotown murder of gangster Gurmit Singh Dhak days earlier.
The seven-page Vancouver indictment in the gun case says both Wiwchar and Ley possessed 15 illegal or prohibited firearms between March 16 and April 23, 2012, “at or near Surrey.”
Among the guns listed are two 12-gauge pump action shotguns, an Uzi submachine-gun, a Romanian automatic rifle, a Norinco semi-automatic rifle, Sig Sauer, Colt, Taurus, Ruger and Norinco semi-automatic pistols, a .38 Smith and Wesson revolver and a .44 Magnum.
Wiwchar and another co-accused face eight counts jointly on the indictment that relate to possessing both a Ceska Zbrojovka tactical rifle and a loaded .45 Ruger handgun without permits in Vancouver on May 24, 2012 — less than a month before Raposo was shot in the head in front of the Sicilian Sidewalk Cafe in Toronto’s Little Italy.
Wiwchar, who grew up in Stouffville, Ont., landed in a B.C. prison after being convicted and serving time for a series of robberies in his home province.
While in Kent institution, he was convicted of uttering threats to cause death or bodily harm for an incident that happened in April 2010. He got a three-month conditional sentence and a five-year firearms ban. He was also convicted of assaulting a correctional officer and uttering threats while in an Abbotsford prison in 2009.