Friday, January 21, 2011


Having done a few hundred of these hearings, I find it incredible that this Immigration Division Member has released a person with such a questionable track record. Most people are never released even if they have lesser records, even when trying to post higher bonds and with better supervision.

B.C. criminal released by immigration officials ahead of deportation

B.C. criminal released by immigration officials ahead of deportation

By Kim Bolan, Vancouver SunJanuary 21, 2011 10:29 AM

VANCOUVER — A South African-born criminal who police say is a member of the Game Tight Soldiers and Renegade gangs was released by immigration officials Thursday over the federal government's objections.

Francois Meerholz was already out on bail in Prince George, B.C., on seven firearms charges when he was picked up by the Canada Border Services Agency earlier this month on an outstanding deportation order.

He made an appearance before one Immigration and Refugee Board adjudicator a week ago and was ordered held in custody pending his Jan. 31 removal from Canada.

But at a second hearing Thursday, a different adjudicator, Daphne Shaw Dyck, said Meerholz could return to Prince George with his fiancee and brother on several conditions, including a $5,000 bond.

Shaw Dyck said she was confident Meerholz "would appear for removal if released."

She rejected the submissions of Marian Foucault, who represented the federal public safety minister, that Meerholz's pattern of disregard for earlier conditions meant he should not be released pending deportation.

"He violated multiple conditions," Foucault said, noting that he did not report a new address to government officials, or the fact that he had two new convictions and several new criminal charges laid against him in 2010.

Shaw Dyck was the adjudicator who released a Salvadoran refugee claimant in 2008 who admitted killing at least four rival gangsters in gunfights and grenade attacks as a member of a Central American gang.

She deemed Jose Franciso Cardoza Quintero was not dangerous enough to be locked up pending his deportation, and let him go on a $1,000 bond on condition that he report once a month and not drink alcohol while living with relatives in Surrey, B.C.

Meerholz, 23, came to Canada with his younger brother in 1999 to live with relatives.

But they ended up in the foster care system and Meerholz was soon before the courts.

After convictions for theft and possession of stolen property in 2007, Meerholz was ordered deported in November 2008.

The federal government agreed to give the young man another chance in March 2009 by staying his deportation for 18 months as long as he lived by a number of conditions, including "not commit any criminal offences," and "if charged with a criminal offence, immediately report that fact in writing" to the CBSA.

Foucault told Shaw Dyck that Meerholz repeatedly violated the conditions — getting both convictions and new charges — and the removal order was reinstated.

"Mr. Meerholz is a member of the Game Tight Soldiers and has the bottom rocker (part of the three-piece patch given to those working to become full gang members) of the Renegades," Foucault said, before Shaw Dyck cut her off and said simply making statements about gang affiliation was not providing evidence of such.

The Vancouver Sun earlier reported that there are up to 40 Game Tight Soldiers' members running the street level drug trade in Prince George in close association to the Renegades, a local gang connected to the Hells Angels.

Prince George RCMP Cpl. Craig Douglass confirmed Thursday that Meerholz is linked to both the GTS and the Hells Angels puppet club.

"He is a member of the Game Tight Soldiers and wears the bottom rocker of the Renegades," Douglass said.

In October 2009 — six months after getting his second change to stay in Canada — Meerholz was arrested on a series of firearms charges, including possession of a restricted weapon, careless use of a firearm and two counts of occupying a vehicle in which there was a firearm.

He was also charged last summer with impaired driving and flight from a peace officer.

Foucault said the Crown has agreed to drop the charges if Meerholz is deported.

Meerholz's lawyer Bahar Mashregi said it is true he did violate earlier conditions, but only because he was under the mistaken belief that he no longer had to report to CBSA.

And she said both his brother Dillon and fiance Ashley Freake had also been unaware he was still on conditions or would have ensured he comply.

Both testified before the hearing, saying they would be lost if Meerholz is forced to leave the country.

Freake said he has cared for her daughter as if the toddler was his own child, providing financially and physically for her.

"He is my best friend. He is the father to my daughter. He is my whole world," she said tearfully before Shaw Dyck explained she didn't have the power to allow Meerholz to stay.

Dillon said, "it has just been him and me for the last 13 years."

"He is the only thing I have ever had and you just can't take that away — it isn't fair," he testified.

Meerholz is expected to be released Friday.

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