A full-patch member of the Hells Angels and three other men have been charged with illegal gambling after an investigation by B.C.’s anti-gang agency.
The Combined Forces Special Enforcement Unit searched Big Shots Café, at 3980 East Hastings St. in Burnaby, on July 4, area residents told Postmedia at the time.
This week, a charge of being “found in a common gaming or betting house” was laid against café owner Francisco Batista Pires, as well as New Westminster resident Jay Arnold Franco, 40, 58-year old Richard William Kosterman, of Delta, and Burnaby resident Andrew David MacFarlane, 36.
CFSEU Sgt. Brenda Winpenny said Thursday that the agency’s Joint Illegal Gaming Investigation Team began an investigation into a suspected illegal gaming house at the business in October 2019.
When the search warrant was executed in July police found “several individuals participating in activity that appeared to be that of an illegal gaming house,” Winpenny said. “Seized from the business were items such as; poker tables, slot machines, cash, poker chips and playing cards.”
Winpenny said that “Illegal gaming, and the locations that allow them, have been the root of other criminal offences that impact the safety of the public.”
Pires is a longtime Hells Angel, currently with the Nomads chapter. He was not at the café Wednesday when a Postmedia reporter called for comment.
The provincial court database confirmed that Pires appeared in Vancouver provincial court Wednesday on the charge. The other three accused are scheduled to appear on Friday.
Postmedia obtained a photo of police inside the café late on July 4.
The date of the alleged offence is June 18, 2020. Sources say the charge relates to illegal gambling that, allegedly, was going on in the back of the business.
Corporate records indicate that Pires incorporated Big Shots on June 10, 2004 with another man. The second director was replaced by Pires’s fellow Hells Angel Rob Alvarez on Jan. 1, 2005, the records state. Alvarez ceased being a director on Jun 8, 2008, though the City of Burnaby 2020 business licence lists both Pires and Alvarez as café operators.
An earlier drug trafficking conviction of Pires was cited in a recent B.C. Supreme Court ruling against the director of civil forfeiture’s attempt to get three Hells Angels clubhouses forfeited as instruments of criminal activity.
Justice Barry Davies accepted that Pires and others had used the East End clubhouse for trafficking on three occasions, but said that alone “does not establish that the East End Clubhouse was used in the past as an instrument of unlawful activity.”