Vancouver man found executed in Argentina on the run from U.S. drug probe
A Vancouver man shot execution-style in Buenos Aires last month was on the run from U.S. authorities, according to Argentine investigators who are now receiving help from the RCMP and FBI on the murder case.
Adam Kataoka, 35, evaded a U.S. arrest warrant for six years before his luck ran out in Argentina. Argentine authorities claim he was trying to find work there as an assassin before he was found face down on the pavement, wearing latex gloves, near a Buenos Aires university campus in the early morning hours of Oct. 28.
He was killed by two bullets fired at close range from two different guns.
The attorney general's Saavedra and Nunez district office, which is handling the case, confirmed Thursday that Kataoka was on the run from U.S. authorities seeking him for his alleged involvement in the drug trade. The district office also confirmed in an e-mail Thursday to Canwest News Service that the RCMP and the FBI were helping out with the case.
Kataoka was well known to Canadian and U.S. law enforcement for his alleged drug trade connections and his role in the high-profile kidnapping of Vancouver billionaire Jim Pattison's daughter Cynthia Kilburn in 1990.
Kataoka was convicted along with six others in the abduction and unlawful confinement of Kilburn. The mastermind, Chadwick Shayne Mulvahill, was sentenced in March 1992 to life in prison, while his assistant in the plot, Christian Charles Snelgrove, got 13 years, in part for recruiting Kataoka and the others.
Kataoka and the other recruits were arrested by police after going on a wild spending spree with part of the $200,000 ransom paid. Kilburn was released after several hours, unharmed. Her then four-year-old twins were left tied up by the kidnappers in her North Vancouver house.
Kataoka reappeared on police radar earlier this year when he was linked to members of the Vancouver-based United Nations gang.
The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration had been hunting for Kataoka since 2003, according to U.S. court records. Kataoka was suspected of being a key player in a cross-border smuggling operation that moved ecstasy pills, marijuana and hashish from Canada to Virginia. Authorities have since arrested at least 13 individuals involved with the U.S side of the operation and two individuals on the Canadian side, court records show.
Kataoka was suspected of co-ordinating shipments of tens of thousands of ecstasy, ephedrine and methamphetamine pills to U.S. buyers from Vancouver. Kataoka was also behind the shipment of marijuana and hashish, court documents allege.
According to U.S. court documents, one April 2002 shipment, which originated in Vancouver, totalled 30,550 ephedrine pills, 3,000 ecstasy and methamphetamine pills, 6.2 kilograms of hashish and 500 grams of marijuana. The contraband was loaded into the side panels of a rented Dodge Grand Caravan in the parking lot of a Toronto hotel, then travelled to Buffalo, N.Y., and on into Virginia.
Argentine authorities believe Kataoka fled Canada that same year for the Philippines.
Before he arrived Oct. 12 in Argentina on an Air Canada flight, Kataoka is believed to have spent two months back in Canada.
He stayed in three Buenos Aires hotels, paying his bills in cash. He had paid up the bill at his last hotel to Nov. 1. He was reportedly frustrated the day before he was killed because he couldn't book a rental car with cash. He didn't want to use his credit card, reported La Nacion newspaper.
Argentine authorities continue to investigate.
BY JORGE BARRERA , CANWEST NEWS SERVICENOVEMBER 13, 2009 3:07 PM
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