Abbotsford blueberry farmer Boota Poonia shows an APD officer where he found a dead body in his field on May 11, 2016 near the Vedder Canal. (Paul Henderson/ Black Press file)

Gangster involved in international hit found dead in B.C. blueberry field in 2016

Two years after killing, reporter Kim Bolan unearths saga of local drug dealers recruited to Dubai

More than two years after a body was found in an Abbotsford blueberry field next to the Vedder Canal, a dramatic story of international murder and revenge has emerged.

On May 11, 2016, farmer Boota Poonia stumbled across what turned out to be a dead body in his blueberry field on No. 2 Road, just a hundred metres from the Vedder Canal.

The shocked man said he initially thought it was someone passed out drunk.

“I said, ‘Hey buddy, get up,’” he told this reporter at the site the next day.

But when Poonia got closer, he immediately realized the man was dead with what appeared to be bullet wounds in his buttocks area and his head.

The farmer said the deceased male had bees or wasps on his face, possibly indicating the body had been there for many hours.

“I was scared,” he said. It was just before 5 p.m. on May 11 when Poonia and his wife came across the body and called police.

Dozens of police arrived at the scene according to another witness who was temporarily living on the property.

An RCMP helicopter landed around 7 p.m. and No. 2 Road was blocked off until 8 p.m. on May 12 as officers investigated.

RCMP divers scour the Vedder Canal two days after an Abbotsford blueberry found a dead body in his field a hundred metres away on May 11, 2016. (Paul Henderson/ Black Press File)

Then on May 13, an RCMP boat was in the Vedder Canal, moored to both sides by a rope, with a diver searching the waters just south of, and then underneath, the Keith Wilson Bridge.

It was unclear if the divers were searching for a weapon, another body or something else. And that was the end of information shared by police into the death, yet so many questions remained unanswered.

The incident also sparked some pushback from reporters as it was yet another example of a then-new RCMP policy of not sharing the identity of homicide victims.

Postmedia reporter Kim Bolan reported at the time that IHIT’s Staff Sgt. Jennifer Pound refused to release the name of a homicide victim, and said “based on direction from our national HQ, we can release the vic name when there is an investigative need to do so.”

But names come out in other ways, and five days after the body was found, members of the victim’s family, overcome with grief arrived at the site where his body was discovered. They asked a woman who lives on the property for the exact row of the blueberry field he was found in.

A memorial cross at the site where Orosman Jr. Garcia Arevalo’s body was found by a farmer in a blueberry field on No. 2 Road in Abbotsford on May 11, 2016. (Paul Henderson/ The Progress)

After asking for permission, they placed a cross with flowers, a teddy bear and jewelry on No. 2 Road. The inscription on the cross read: “Orosman Jr. Garcia Arevalo June 21, 1993 -May 10, 2016.”

The cross is still there to this day, faded and surrounded by long grass and weeds.

So who was Garcia?

Little was known at the time, but Bolan recently unearthed a tale of international intrigue and bad decisions by low-level gangsters.

Just seven days before Garcia’s body was found in that blueberry field in the Fraser Valley, Turkish drug trafficker Cetin Koc was gunned down while sitting in his car in a luxurious downtown Dubai neighbourhood.

Through an extensive investigation, Bolan reported on July 28 that the hit men were none other than Orosman Jr. Garcia Arevalo and Harpreet Singh Majhu, both Metro Vancouver residents and members or associates with the Brothers Keepers, a gang aligned with the the now defunct Red Scorpions.

Bolan did not get comment from local police about how the low level gangsters were recruited for an international hit. But her sources did suggest after they came back from Dubai, they didn’t lay low, instead played up their new status as international hit men.

Seven days after the Koc killing, Garcia was killed, and one month after that, Bolan said Majhu’s body was found in a burnt-out vehicle in Agassiz.

That was June 10, 2016, but it was never revealed there was a body in that car fire in Agassiz at the time or since.

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@PeeJayAitch
paul.henderson@theprogress.com

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RCMP divers scour the Vedder Canal two days after an Abbotsford blueberry found a dead body in his field a hundred metres away on May 11, 2016. (Paul Henderson/ Black Press File)

RCMP divers scour the Vedder Canal two days after an Abbotsford blueberry found a dead body in his field a hundred metres away on May 11, 2016. (Paul Henderson/ Black Press File)

A memorial cross at the site where Orosman Jr. Garcia Arevalo’s body was found by a farmer in a blueberry field on No. 2 Road in Abbotsford on May 11, 2016. (Paul Henderson/ The Progress)

The white tent where blueberry farmer Boota Poonia found a dead body on May 11, 2016. (Paul Henderson/ Black Press File)

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