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Vancouver mayor urges foster son to turn self in

Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson, centre, is joined by his wife Amy, centre right, as they celebrate after he was re-elected in a civic election in Vancouver, B.C., on Nov. 19. The man on far left in black is Jinagh Farrouch Navas-Rivas.

Darryl Dyck/The Canadian Press/Darryl Dyck/The Canadian Press

Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson has issued a public appeal to his 21-year-old foster son to turn himself in to police and face drug and gun-related charges.

An arrest warrant was issued for Jinagh Farrouch Navas-Rivas earlier this month. "I am disappointed to hear that Jinagh is wanted by the Richmond RCMP," Mr. Robertson said in a statement released to the media.

"My wife and I foster-parented Jinagh for two years until 2009," he said.

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"We have always believed that providing support to youth in need is of great importance and that fostering is an important contribution our family can make. It was in this spirit that we took in Jinagh to live with us," he said.

Mr. Navas-Rivas has been living on his own since June, 2009, Mr. Robertson said.

Mr. Robertson is on vacation in Hawaii and is not expected to return to Vancouver until next week.

Provincial court records show Mr. Navas-Rivas was charged with the offences of trafficking on Nov. 4 and Dec. 9 in Vancouver and Richmond. He also faces one charge of transferring a firearm on Nov. 18 in New Westminster.

RCMP spokesman Sergeant Peter Thiessen said the investigation began when Mounties got information about a "dial-a-dope" operation. Though he wouldn't speak about the exact details of the case, Sgt. Thiessen said police are hoping to charge at least three more suspects.

He said more information would likely be released at a news conference Friday.

Mr. Navas-Rivas was with Mr. Robertson as recently as Nov. 19, when Mr. Robertson was re-elected for his second term as mayor. Photos of Mr. Robertson on stage show Mr. Navas-Rivas on his right.

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Mr. Navas-Rivas lived with the Robertsons for his last two years of high school, which enabled him to graduate.

He was at Prince of Wales Secondary School with one of the Robertson daughters. She became concerned when she realized he was on his own and basically living on the street.

Mr. Robertson's wife, Amy, offered to take him in and the Robertsons got the necessary approvals to become foster parents.

Mr. Navas-Rivas had been involved in track and field and football during his school years. His brother, Matthew, had already had brushes with the law.

Michael Magee, the mayor's chief of staff, said he believed Mr. Navas-Rivas was living in Richmond. He has continued to be included in family events, such as birthday parties and the mayor's victory party on the night of the civic election.

Mr. Robertson, in keeping with the philosophy of foster parenting, has always referred to Mr. Navas-Rivas as his son or one of his four children. It is believed Mr. Navas-Rivas's parents live in the Vancouver area.

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Media reports stated that Mr. Navas-Rivas was part of a group running a dial-a-dope operation that covered Richmond, New Westminster and Vancouver. One of the group, Leslie Miller, is in custody, but Mr. Navas-Rivas and three others are at large.

There were 18 charges laid against the five altogether, 14 of them against Vinh Hoang Le for trafficking in Richmond between June and November. The others had charges laid against them related to trafficking and weapons offences in November and December in Richmond, Vancouver and New Westminster.

Frances Bula is Special to The Globe and Mail

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