Don Bryce Lyons, 36, pleaded guilty yesterday to one charge of conspiracy to traffic in cocaine. He was among 18 drug dealers and Hells Angels associates arrested in late 2007 after a year-long undercover police investigation targeting organized crime, dubbed Project Drill. Lyons, a resident of Kelowna, came to the attention of Manitoba investigators through his association with Project Drill target Lester Jones, then vice-president of the Kelowna Hells Angels. Court heard Jones was a longtime friend of Scott Robertson, a career criminal who was paid more than $600,000 to buy drugs from Project Drill suspects while police recorded the proceedings.
Lyons belonged to a gang of drug dealers who called themselves the Independent Soldiers, said Crown attorney Chris Mainella. He was also Jones' primary source for drugs. Robertson purchased several kilograms of cocaine through Jones before arranging a drug buy with Lyons in a Kelowna hotel room. Police video cameras captured Lyons exchanging 1 kg of cocaine for $26,000. Police arrested Lyons in December 2007 and executed search warrants at two luxurious rental homes in Kelowna and Vancouver. Despite having a declared income that year of just $354, Lyons was living a life of lavish extravagance, Mainella said. The Kelowna home he shared with his common-law wife and young son cost $3,500 a month to rent, which he paid in cash. The couple drove luxury automobiles -- Lyons a 2007 Cadillac Escalade, his wife a 2006 BMW XS. Their fleet of vehicles also included three motorcycles and a new pickup truck. Police seized an arsenal of weapons from the homes, including 19 guns, two Tasers, several silencers and a grenade. Police also seized six handguns from hidden compartments inside the Escalade. Lyons had never set foot in Manitoba prior to his arrest, Mainella said. A stiff sentence was necessary to send the message "that this is not a friendly place for drug-dealing," Mainella said. As part of his sentence, Lyons agreed to forfeit $75,000 in property and paid a $26,000 fine. Justice John Scurfield gave Lyons double credit of 30 months for time served, reducing his remaining sentence to six years.