Richard Chiu has been on police radar in B.C. for 20 years, even though his only drug convictions were south of the border. His name arose repeatedly in the E-Pirate money laundering investigation.
And he was the target of Project Tar, a Vancouver police probe that overlapped with E-Pirate. Now Chiu is dead after a brutal slaying in Colombia.
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A major Vancouver drug importer with international connections was found stabbed and burned in Colombia a day after flying into the country last month.
The body of Richard Yen Fat Chiu, 47, was found June 20 near the city of Cúcuta, close to the Colombian border with Venezuela. Sources told Postmedia that he had only arrived in the country on June 19.
Chiu was targeted in Vancouver Police investigations called Project Tar and Project Trunkline into suspected drug traffickers that laundered their money though Richmond’s Silver International — the underground bank that was part of Canada’s largest money-laundering investigation.
Court documents from the VPD investigations obtained by Postmedia say “Mr. Chiu has been the subject of police investigations for money laundering and drug trafficking.”
Projects Tar and Trunkline overlapped with the E-Pirate probe into Silver International. But charges against the bank and its owners were mysteriously stayed last November.
Chiu was never charged, but his wife Kimberly was named in a civil forfeiture case after Vancouver police seized $315,000 in 2017 from an Audi she was driving that was leased to her husband. The money was mostly in plastic vacuum-sealed bundles stuffed inside a duffel bag, the government’s forfeiture claim states.
The claim also says Kim Chiu “was acting as a courier for Asian organized crime” at the time and had just met with a known gang associate and “low level street dealer” named Gurpaul Virdi as Vancouver Police watched.
Kim Chiu denied the allegations in her statement of defence.
Her husband pleaded guilty in Massachusetts in 2000 to conspiracy and possession of heroin for the purpose of distribution. He was handed a 121-month sentence and transferred to Canada from a Washington state prison under a prisoner exchange treaty in 2002.
He was later paroled in B.C. but had his parole revoked in 2005 after the RCMP said he continued to be involved with drug traffickers. In fact, the RCMP told the parole board and the Correctional Service of Canada that it “had linked him to an investigation involving a large quantity of ecstasy and equipment for making drugs.”
Chiu successfully appealed his parole revocation, claiming that he had not been given the evidence the police had against him in a timely fashion and that his rights were violated.
Appeal Court Justice Edward Chiasson ordered Chiu “re-released on parole on the conditions imposed initially on him.”
Chiu continued to be the target of police interest in Canada. Sources described him as “high, high, high level” in organized crime.
News reports out of Colombia said he checked into a hotel and was seen the next morning getting into a red car with Venezuelan licence plates. While the burned body was found later that day, it took several days before the remains were identified as those of Chiu.
Global Affairs Canada spokesman John Babcock said in an email that “consular services are being provided to the victim’s family.”
“We offer our deepest condolences to the family and friends of the Canadian citizen who has died in Colombia, he said. “Consular officials in Bogota, Colombia are in contact with local authorities to gather additional information. Due to the provisions of the Privacy Act, no further information can be disclosed.”