When Toronto police set up a sting at a casino in December 2018 in a bid to nail a suspect in a murder case, their target ended up blabbing about a different murder altogether, The Toronto Sun reports.
Adil Zeno, 23, was suspected of involvement in the 2016 shooting death of Faysal Mohamed Hees, 26. So investigators decided to go undercover to win his confidence. But first, Zeno had to win a little himself.
The suspect was approached by an undercover officer who asked him to fill out a phony marketing survey. The officer told him it was his lucky day. Zeno had “won” $250 to use at a casino and a free dining experience at the casino’s restaurant.
Later, at the casino, Zeno bonded over dinner and drinks with two undercover officers posing as fellow contestant winners.
The sting had the hallmarks of a “big boss” tactic, developed and honed by Canadian police forces. Illegal in the US, this is where investigators create a fictional criminal organization and then seduce the suspect into joining it.
And according to prosecutors, the undercover officers, known as “Omar” and “Jermaine,” portrayed characters with just the right vibe to impress a wannabe gangster like Zeno.
Killed by Strangers
Omar and Jermaine gave Zeno a ride home to a notorious block of high-rises on Dixon Road in the west Toronto suburb of Etobicoke.
On the same evening, Jonathan Gayle-West, 29, an aspiring sportscaster who worked as a story editor at a Toronto radio station, went to visit his pastor for advice.
When he returned to his car, he was ambushed by two complete strangers who had climbed into the back seat. The men shot him three times in the torso. One bullet penetrated his heart, killing him.
The next time Zeno met Omar and Jermaine, he was itching to tell them about his two friends, Samir Adem and Salman Ahmed, who he said had killed Gayle in cold blood the night they had dropped him off. Zeno said he had helped them lie low in the aftermath.
His words were recorded by the undercover operators and played for the jury at Adem and Ahmad’s murder trial last week.
‘They Thought It Was a Joke’
“I was tripping that day, I’ll be real. The whole hood’s famous … so, yo, a body just dropped right there,” Zeno said, as reported by the Sun.
He described how Gayle-West had tried to wrestle the gun off one of his attackers, and it jammed. But the victim didn’t realize the other man also had a gun, and he opened fire.
“Everything went south. My n—- put the ting on his head like this,” Zeno said.
Zeno said Adem and Ahmad were laughing, like they thought it was a joke.
In the witness stand, he claimed he made it all up, relying on “hearsay” from the street.
Prosecutors say they have DNA, fingerprints, and video surveillance evidence that tie Adem and Ahmad to the scene.
Four months after winning his free casino experience, Zeno was charged with first-degree murder in the 2016 death of Hees, who was shot dead after getting into an argument in his apartment block, just north of Dixon Road.
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