“Right out of the movies,” is how Det. Sgt. Terry Browne described his first meeting with the twice-convicted murderer Rabih Alkhalil.
“We met him on the tarmac. A conga line of police vehicles brought him, and they handed him over to us.”
When Browne flew to Greece in 2015 to collect the gangster, he had no idea that it wouldn’t be the last time the criminal would evade arrest.
But in July of 2022, Alkhalil made national headlines for escaping from the North Fraser Pretrial Centre in Port Coquitlam, B.C., while on trial for murder. He’s been at large ever since.
Now, with the RCMP, Interpol and police services on opposite ends of the country keeping an eye out for him, a $100,000 reward for a tip that leads to his arrest has been put in place.
On Jan. 17, 2012, the Sheraton Wall Centre was packed with star athletes as Vancouver hosted a qualifying tournament for the Summer Olympics.
People were dining in the hotel restaurant when a gunman entered the lobby. His target was Sandip Duhre, a well-known gangster.
“The shooter literally walked up to the table when Duhre was there by himself after ordering food and shot him point-blank range,” Vancouver Sun reporter Kim Bolan said.
“Everyone was scrambling after that.”
The murder was Vancouver’s first homicide of 2012.
It didn’t take long for police to realize that the shooting was likely gang-related.
“They seem to almost want to have some big, brazen public shooting that will send fear and shockwaves. And they don’t seem to fear reprisal by law enforcement,” Bolan said.
Alkhalil was spotted at the hotel bar near the time of the crime. Police soon suspected that he had hired the hitman to murder Duhre, who was known to be his rival.
On June 18, 2012, another alarming shooting erupted in a crowded area. This time, it was more than halfway across the country, in the heart of Toronto’s Little Italy neighbourhood.
Thirty-five-year-old Johnny Raposo was spending the afternoon watching a Eurocup match, surrounded by other eager fans at the Sicilian Sidewalk Cafe.
The gunman donned a construction vest, mullet and helmet. He sat down and ordered a Corona before shooting Raposo “point blank.”
Raposo was the father of a young toddler, and he was expecting another baby with his grief-stricken partner.
The gunman in that killing had also been hired by Alkhalil.
“There was evidence that Johnny Raposo had been part of this criminal organization that Alkhalil was also a part of that was importing/exporting cocaine,” Bolan said.
“For some reason, they had a falling out with him, and they decided to take him out,” she added.
When police raided Alkhalil’s apartment in Montreal, he was nowhere to be found.
A few months later, the wanted man turned up in Greece. He was taken into custody by Greek authorities for having a false passport.
“When he was under arrest there, our arrest warrant came to light,” Browne said.
“We had placed our arrest warrant on the international system, and so it was at that point that they realized that he was wanted in Toronto for our homicide investigation.”
Alkhalil was first put on trial for Raposo’s death. He was found guilty of first-degree murder and sentenced to life in prison with no chance of parole for 25 years.
Then, as he was on trial for the Vancouver shooting, Alkhalil was able to escape from jail with the assistance of two accomplices posing as contractors.
The trial continued without Alkhalil, and the jury later found him guilty of the first-degree murder of Duhre.
Crime Beat Most Wanted: Who is Rabih Alkhalil?
Investigators say that Rabih Alkhalil goes by numerous aliases and is known to use fake documents. There is a $100,000 reward for tips leading to his arrest.
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What we know about Alkhalil
According to investigators, Rabih Alkhalil is five-feet 10-inches tall and weighs around 160 pounds. He has dark brown eyes, black hair and two birthmarks on his left cheek. He goes by a variety of different aliases and variations of his name such as Rabi, Robby, Robbi, Rabih Al Khalil, Philip Betencourt Furtado and Philip Bettenecourt Furtado.
However, it’s possible that the wanted man has since changed his appearance. Alkhalil previously had undergone nose surgery.
Investigators are unsure whether he remains in Canada or has been able to evade arrest internationally. Alkhalil had been known for creating fake documents and passports in the past.
“He’s a very intelligent individual. He’s very smart, he’s crafty and we believe that if anyone would be able to mount an escape, he would be that guy,” said Staff Insp. Greg McLane.
Bolan, who has reported extensively on the Alkhalil case, is familiar with his deep-rooted connections to crime in Canada.
“I’ve known about the Alkhalil family for over 20 years,” she said.
After a slew of shootings in Vancouver related to the Alkhalil family, Bolan said they went to Ontario where the brothers allegedly got involved in cocaine trafficking.
“There’s been this whole history of violence with regard to the little brothers, both of them allegedly being involved in crimes.”
The Alkhalil family had been on law enforcement’s radar for quite some time, according to Mike Laviolette, a former inspector with the Ottawa Police Service.
“What really brought the Alkhalil family to prominence was a propensity for violence,” he said.
Maxime Langlois is the executive director of the BOLO, or “Be on the Lookout” program, which uses social media and technology to encourage Canadians to keep an eye out for the country’s top suspects.
He agreed that Alkhalil’s ties to criminal organizations are allowing him to continue to be at large.
“He is someone with a certain level of sophistication in terms of criminality, someone who has been part of different criminal organizations,” said Langlois. “And just to be clear, also, it’s not like it’s easy to escape from a prison in Canada.”
There is currently an Interpol notice out for Alkhalil’s arrest.
It’s been more than 10 years since Johnny Raposo was killed, but the impact is still felt by both his family and community.
“The pain is still too great,” said Browne. “They, too, would like to find Mr. Alkhalil or have him reacquainted with him with the penal system. It’s still too tough for them to speak about this.”
Ranj Dhaliwal was a childhood friend of Duhre, the victim in the Vancouver murder.
“Sandip, he was an intelligent and a smart person,” he said at the time of Duhre’s death. “He has a lot of friends. He knows a lot of people.”
As the pain of the loss continues for the victims’ loved ones, the fear of knowing Alkhalil continues to evade authorities also haunts their families and friends.
Investigators are urging anyone who has any information about Rabih Alkhalil’s whereabouts to contact Crime Stoppers anonymously at 416-222-(TIPS) or submit a tip online. A reward of $100,000 for information leading to Alkhalil’s arrest is available until Nov. 30, 2023.
To learn more about the international hunt for Rabih Alkhalil, tune into Global TV’s brand-new series Crime Beat: Most Wanted. The 8-episode series covering the hunt for Canada’s most wanted individuals airs at 7:30 p.m. local time across the country.