Up
Q1_2000
Q2_2000
Q3_2000
Q4_2000
Q1_Q2_2001
Q3_2001
Q4_2001
Q1_2002
Q2_2002
Q3_2002
Q4_2002
Q1_2003
Q2_2003
Q3_2003
Q4_2003
Q1_2004
Q2_2004
Q3_2004
Q4_2004
Q1_2005
Q2_2005
Q3_2005
Q4_2005
Q1_2006
Q2_2006
Q3_2006

Organized Crime in Canada:
A Quarterly Summary

April to June, 2005

 

Organized Criminal Activities

Counterfeiting/Piracy

Drug Trafficking

Crystal Meth.

Ecstasy

Marijuana

Gambling

Internet-based Crime

Money Laundering

Smuggling of Contraband

Smuggling of and Trafficking in People

  

Organized Crime Genres

 

Asian

Italian

Outlaw Motorcycle Gangs

Street / Youth Gangs

  

Enforcement


Organized Criminal Activities

Counterfeiting/Piracy

Canada was one of 11 countries outside the U.S. that participated in an operation targeting criminal organizations involved in Internet software piracy and the illegal distribution of copyrighted works. The RCMP, in tandem with other Canadian enforcement agencies, conducted searches and seizures in British Columbia, Alberta, Ontario and Quebec. Other countries involved included Belgium, Australia, Denmark, France, Germany, Israel, Korea, Poland, the Netherlands, and the United Kingdom. All countries timed their actions to coincide with the U.S. searches and arrests in June.  RCMP intelligence indicates organized crime groups are often involved in counterfeit goods rings. "The illegal distribution of software and other intellectual property causes financial loss to legitimate businesses, governments and taxpayers in Canada and around the world. These losses are estimated to be in the billions of dollars," said Raf Souccar, Assistant Commissioner of RCMP Federal and International Operations.

Source: “RCMP participates in FBI operation targeting software piracy; Canada one of 11 countries involved outside the United States.” RCMP Press Release. June 30, 2005

Two Sri Lankan Tamil residents in Montreal and Toronto, as well as a Lebanese immigrant, were arrested on May 10 by the RCMP for their alleged involvement in a counterfeiting network that forged Canadian money, credit cards and passports. Their arrest was the culmination of a year-long investigation by RCMP units in Montreal and Toronto. A total of 13 charges were laid against the three Canadian residents, two originally from Sri Lanka, and the other from Lebanon. During the investigation, police officers were able to infiltrate the network, which operated mostly out of Montreal and Toronto and specialized in manufacturing and circulating counterfeit money. The Canadian investigation led to the seizure of $284,000 in counterfeit bills, 92 documents of biographic data for Canadian passports and more than 9,000 plastic cards used to make forged credit cards, SIN cards, health insurance cards and Quebec/Ontario driver’s licenses.

 

According to the Asian Tribune the two Sri Lankan Tamils were close associates of the World Tamil Organization (WTO), a front organization for the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), a separatist Tamil organization. The LTTE has launched a military campaign against the Government of Sri Lanka since 1983 to win a separate Tamil state in the country’s north and east regions. The WTO raises funds from Sri Lankan Tamil expatriates and Canadians for the LTTE operation in Sri Lanka under the guise of humanitarian assistance. The two Tamil residents in Canada who have been taken into custody by the RCMP are activists of the WTO involved in raising funds for the LTTE, according to the Asian Tribune.

According to the Mackenzie Institute, the LTTE fundraising machine in Canada is “arguably the most sophisticated of any terrorist organization being undertaken on Canadian soil.” Donations are both voluntary, through regular contributions, and coerced, through extortions and intimidation. The LTTE draws significant financial and political support from Canadian Tamil community. The Sri Lankan government estimates that the LTTE raises about $120 million a year, up to a quarter of this amount from supporters in Canada.

LTTE supporters in Canada are suspected of involvement in a number of illegal activities such as drug trafficking, human smuggling and passport forgery and fraud. The two Sri Lankan Tamils, taken into custody on May 10 with evidence of forgery and fraud, are charged for uttering counterfeit money, forging Canadian passports, having had in their possession instruments to commit forgery and having had in their possession instruments for forging or falsifying credit cards.

The United States, Britain and Australia have designated the LTTE as a terrorist organization. The LTTE does not appear on Canada’s list of banned terrorist organizations. Canada’s Liberal Party government repeatedly blocked adding the LTTE to the list because of the once-opened negotiation between the Sri Lankan government and the LTTE, and the prevailing atmosphere of resuming the stalled negotiations with the ceasefire agreement in place.

Source: “Canadian Police Arrest Two Tamils of Sri Lankan origin Connected With LTTE Front Group WTO For Counterfeiting.” Asian Tribune. May 12.

Calgary police say they've stopped a local arm of a massive credit card manufacturing operation, and are now working with the U.S. Secret Service as they take the investigation further. So far, charges numbering in the dozens have been laid against two men with alleged links to organized crime groups in Asia, Eastern Europe and the United States. The charges stem from two recent raids that uncovered thousands of credit-card numbers with a potential loss of $60 million. The men were arrested March 30 – the same week two Calgary homes were raided. Police uncovered a credit-card manufacturing operation as well as weapons. A pile of credit cards seized in the raids bear legitimate numbers from customers in the United States. It's believed the numbers were acquired in Russia, while the blank cards came from Asia. Two men face more than 40 charges including forgery of credit cards, fraud and weapons offences. Calgary police have met with the U.S. Secret Service, which is carrying out its own investigation.

Source: “Police say credit-card scam has international links.” Calgary Herald.  April 21, p. B2.

Drug Trafficking

Sixteen people were arrested in Halifax on June 20, accused of running a telephone-based drug-delivery ring. Halifax Regional Police raided 10 homes, seizing close to 12 pounds of crack and powdered cocaine, and unspecified amounts of magic mushrooms and ecstasy. They also seized vehicles and about $30,000 in cash. The investigation began 14 months ago. Halifax police said the operators filled hundreds of orders per week. The 16 people arrested face a range of charges, from possessing property obtained by proceeds of crime to trafficking cocaine and ecstasy. Almost all are from the Halifax area, although one is from Toronto.

Source: “Dial-A-Dope cut off in major bust.” Halifax Daily News. June 21, p. 3

Four men were arrested on June 23 off the northeast coast of Newfoundland, following what police are calling the third largest marine drug bust in the province since 1970. The RCMP and Royal Newfoundland Constabulary joint forces drug section in Corner Brook boarded a Canadian-registered fishing vessel and seized six tonnes of hashish. Police estimate the drugs have a street value of $130 million. The investigation, dubbed Operation Board, began last summer and focuses on the importation of hashish into Canada. The four men face charges of conspiracy to import a controlled substance, possession of a controlled substance for the purpose of trafficking and importation of a controlled substance. Three men are from Newfoundland and one has a British Passport.

At a news conference at RCMP headquarters in St. John's, police displayed some of the 251 packages of hash that were seized. RCMP media relations officer Sgt. Pete McKay said the drugs were found in a specially constructed compartment in the 120-foot vessel. The packages ranged in size from 25 kilograms to 30 kilograms. McKay would not comment on the drugs' origin or intended destination, although he confirmed the drugs were headed for the streets of Canada.

The largest marine drug seizure for Newfoundland authorities resulted from a bust in Little Heart's Ease in 1991, when 26.3 tonnes of hash were found. Seventeen tonnes of hash were seized during an off-load at Ireland's Eye, near Random Island, in 1987, while a 100-pound stash of cocaine was discovered in Botwood in 1997. A large, unspecified quantity of marijuana was discovered in Tors Cove in the early 1970s.

Source: “Two granted bail in massive drug bust.” St. John’s Telegram. June 28, p. A3.

A drug bust at Vancouver International Airport on June 23 resulted in the seizure of 90,000 doses of heroin worth about $1 million. Six unidentified Vancouver-area men in their 20s are facing charges. Police suspect the drugs originated in India and one "mule" carried them in the suitcases on a domestic flight from Toronto to Vancouver, where the five men met him. With guns drawn, undercover members of the RCMP’s Greater Vancouver Drug Section, arrested the men and seized nine kilograms of what is suspected to be heroin hidden in two suitcases. RCMP Sgt. Dave Goddard said a man travelling from Toronto to Vancouver was found to be carrying the suspected heroin.

Sources: “Airport bust nets 9 kg of heroin.” The Vancouver Province. June 26, p. A24; “Six arrested, suspected heroin.” The Richmond Review. June 25, p. 16.

Crystal Meth

In addition to ecstasy, there are also strong indications that the illegal production of methamphetamine – also known as “crystal meth,” meth or speed – has increased dramatically in Canada.

Since November 2002, police have dismantled 17 labs in midwestern Ontario alone, including one in the Stratford area where the lab caused a house fire that severely injured two people. The labs were discovered in homes, motorized vehicles and bush lots. To combat this growing problem, the Ontario Provincial Police created a 15-member Clandestine Laboratory Investigative Response Team.

On June 23, the OPP conducted raids in four Ontario counties resulting in 227 trafficking and related offences against 38 people. The raids came after a 13-month OPP investigation into methamphetamine abuse in Bruce, Grey, Huron and Perth counties. The focus of the 13-month Project Roller undercover investigation was on street- level and "mid-level" methamphetamine traffickers. Project Roller didn't turn up any labs, but police say the investigation is continuing. The June 23 bust includes one of the biggest methamphetamine seizures in midwestern Ontario in five years, according to OPP Det. Sgt. Brett Mailloux. Police seized 1.6 kg of methamphetamine, 98 oxycodone pills, 25 morphine pills, 62 ecstasy pills, six percocet pills, 130 grams of cocaine, 17.7 kg of marijuana, 1.6 kg of marijuana resin, and 80 marijuana plants. Also seized was $7,800 in cash and five weapons, including a handgun. The drugs have a street value of $614,000.  During the undercover investigation, OPP officers were able to purchase methamphetamine in quantities ranging from one gram to the one pound.

In Regina, police seized approximately one kilogram of methamphetamine from a home on June 24, which is one of the biggest crystal meth seizures ever in Saskatchewan. A RCMP spokesperson said there is no evidence that the drug was manufactured locally.

On June 27, Vancouver police removed toxic chemicals from what it called one of the largest methamphetamine labs it has ever found. The lab, located in a $1.6-million house in the affluent West Point Grey neighbourhood, was so large it could produce approximately 4.5 kilograms of meth every 12 hours. Police found 85 litres of thinner chemical, 40 litres of muriatic acid and a barrel with 80 kg of red phosphorous, along with heating equipment and condenser tubes. Bulk precursor chemicals, essential to meth production, were also found. The home is owned by a company called Resear Ltd., which is based in the British Virgin Islands. The company is under the directorship of Canning Fok, managing-director of Hutchison Whampoa, a company chaired by one of the world's richest men, Li Ka-shing. Police said there is nothing to suggest the home owner had anything to do with the drug lab. Insp. Dave Nelms of the drug squad said the lessee subletted the three-storey house six weeks ago. The lessee returned from a trip to find the locks had been changed. He eventually got in, found the lab and called police. Police said they have suspects, although no immediate arrests were made.

Methamphetamine is a highly addictive drug. In many Canadian cities, crystal meth is starting to replace crack as the drug of choice among young people. Meth spreads fast, largely because it is cheaper than other drugs and the intense high lasts much longer. Already, supplies are increasing and prices are dropping. Crystal meth can churn up feelings of intense euphoria and erase fatigue and hunger. It may also come with some frightening side effects. Users can be awake for days and end up psychotic, hallucinating or violent. When they are "tweaking" they may see bugs on their skin, picking at them and leaving sores. Many don't eat and become dangerously underweight. Teeth rot. Stroke and heart problems are not uncommon. And when they come down, they often plunge into deep depression. Police link its use to an increased number of thefts by users trying to support their habit, and to a rise in the number of assaults, domestic assaults and attempted suicides. Concern has risen that meth creates powerful sexual feelings and reduces inhibitions, leading perhaps to increased HIV transmission. In Vancouver, where crystal meth use is rampant, one study showed that more than 70 per cent of street youth have used it. In Toronto, 37 per cent of homeless youth surveyed in 2004 study used the drug monthly or more. That's more than double the rate in 1999, when it was 14 per cent. There were 33 meth-related deaths in British Columbia in 2004, compared to just three in 2000. Between March of 2004 and March 2005, Edmonton police had 297 files in which meth was involved. Three “superlabs” police found in and around the city over the last three years served as smoke signals that warned meth was planting roots in Edmonton. (A superlab is a clandestine operation that makes 10 pounds of meth or more in a 24-hour period.) The price of meth has also dropped from $300 a gram to $50 a gram in the Alberta capital.

Sources: “38 charged in drug raids; Four-county probe nets drugs worth $614,000 and takes 38 crystal-meth dealers off streets.” The Kitchner Record. June 25, p. B4. // “Drugs seized in four-county OPP blitz.” St. Mary's Journal. June 29, p. 3. // “Big meth bust in Regina.” Regina Leader Post. June 28, p. A1. // “City's biggest meth lab found in Point Grey: Lab could make nine kg of meth per day.” The Vancouver Province. June 28, p. A10. // “Meth lab found in Point Grey house shocks neighbours.” The Vancouver Sun. June 28, p. B1. // “City braces for meth explosion; Street kids, gay community vulnerable Vancouver stats shake officials.” Toronto Star.  June 20, p. B2. // “Most meth here is imported Series: The Meth Threat.” Regina Leader Post. June 14, p. A1.

Ecstasy

According to the U.S. State Department’s International Narcotics Control Strategy Report for 2005, the proliferation of contraband drug labs and a sharp increase in the production of the illegal drug ecstasy north of the border has created conditions “for Canada to become a major U.S. supplier of this dangerous drug." Canadian ecstasy production is an “emerging threat” that will have to become a high priority for U.S. and Canadian law enforcement agencies. The report notes that Canada was previously a transit point from Europe to the United States for the powdered chemicals used in ecstasy production. Traditionally, most ecstasy production has been centred in Europe. Now, however, crime organizations are setting up labs to make a finished product in Canada. Much of the ecstasy production takes place at sophisticated labs in British Columbia, Ontario and Quebec. Outlaw motorcycle gangs in those three provinces and crime organizations with roots in Asia, Eastern Europe and Israel are cited as behind the production and smuggling operations.

"The trend is Canada is now becoming a source country," according to Cpl. Scott Rintoul of the RCMP drug awareness service. "They are now producing ecstasy locally and they are supplying the international market. "I don't think it's going back to Europe, but it is certainly going domestically across the country, and into the United States."

Law enforcement agencies across the U.S. uncovered and shut down a total of 37 ecstasy labs in that country between 2000 and 2003. Canadian police shut down an equal number during the same period. But the Canadian labs were able to produce ecstasy in much larger quantities than the U.S. labs. The illegal Canadian operations employed sophisticated equipment to manufacture completed tablets.  The State Department hints at why criminal groups prefer to make ecstasy in Canada instead of the United States. It notes that U.S. laws require the registration of pill presses, making it easier for police to spot drug-manufacturing operations. There's no such requirement in Canada. These specialized machines are imported quite legally from China and the United States into Canada. Federal penalties for ecstasy offences in the United States are also much harsher than Canadian criminal penalties, which may serve to drive the trade north.

Recent enforcement actions involving ecstasy production, smuggling, and trafficking appear to corroborate the State Department’s analysis. Several large ecstasy-manufacturing labs have recently been raided and closed down by police in Ontario. A number of Canadians have been caught smuggling the drug into the U.S. American authorities along the Washington state border alone have seized more than 500,000 doses of ecstasy already this year – nearly double the 258,026 pills seized last year and more than 10 times the 2003 total of 47,686.

On June 23, two Quebec men were arrested in New York State with U.S. authorities seizing 350,000 tablets of ecstasy and 15 kilograms of cocaine. Border Patrol agents said that Jean Dionne, 34, of Quebec allegedly carried the ecstasy on an all-terrain vehicle across the U.S.-Canadian border near Mooers and helped load it onto a pickup truck driven by Sylvain Surprenant, 37, also of Quebec. Surprenant allegedly was supposed to pick up the cocaine in New York after delivering the ecstasy and return it to Dionne at the border. Enforcement officials believe the two men are part of a ring that carries drugs back and forth between New York and Montreal. According to James Farnsworth of the Drug Enforcement Administration, “This represents an organization that is providing ecstasy directly from the source and going to wholesale distributors in the New York City area."

On June 12, U.S. authorities arrested a man and a woman and seized 167,000 ecstasy pills that were being smuggled in a pickup truck across a British Columbia-Washington State border crossing.

On May 9, two Abbotsford men smuggling 48,000 ecstasy pills across the border were arrested by U.S. border patrol agents. U.S. Border Patrol spokesman Joe Giuliano believes the pills were likely produced in Asia and smuggled to Canada. The pair was arrested after an "intrusion-detection device" was tripped at an unofficial border crossing near Abbotsford, B.C. The two men are Indo-Canadians. “Most of the actual movement of the goods is done by Indo-Canadian organizations, either on their own as little freelancers or as subsidiaries to either the [Hells] Angels or some of the more structured Indo- Canadian groups," according to Giuliano.

On May 5, Windsor police seized almost 27,000 ecstasy pills and cocaine and pot worth more than half-a-million dollars. "This is by far the largest seizure of ecstasy on the street in Windsor," said Windsor police Insp. Dave Rossell. The 26,911 blue, red and white pills – etched with innocuous logos like dolphins, cherries, apples and Superman's insignia – were seized when police raided a Windsor home. Police also seized 783 grams of cocaine, 347 grams of marijuana, $39,500 in US currency and $17,300 in Canadian bills. Police don't know where the ecstasy was manufactured or where the other drugs came from but the cocaine was in brick form – an indication the alleged traffickers had high-level connections. "When you get it in that form, it indicates to us it was close to the source," said Rossell.

Sources: “U.S. authorities fear influx of Canadian ecstasy.” Globe and Mail. March 10.  // “'E' seized at border.” Abbotsford Times. May 13, p. 6. // “Pair caught with $1.2m in ecstasy pills.” The Vancouver Province. May 12, p. A31. // “Drug bust a record: Police make 'largest seizure' of ecstacy – 27,000 pills.” The Windsor Star. May 7, 2005, p. A3. // “Canada now major maker of ecstasy: Local production supplying international market, RCMP expert says.” The Vancouver Sun. June 17, p. B1. // “U.S. drug bust snares two men from Quebec.” Victoria Times-Colonist. June 24, p. A6. // “Quebecers arrested in N.Y. ecstasy bust.” The Montreal Gazette. June 25, p. A8. // “Two Quebec men arrested in ecstasy bust.” WSTM (NBC, Central New York), July 11.

 Marijuana

While the production of esctacy and crystal meth appear to be on the increase in Canada, they are molehills in comparison to the mountainous manufacturing of marijuana in this country. Some of the more notable busts made in the last three months are summarized below.

Surete du Quebec officers carried one of the largest marijuana seizures in the province’s history on June 23. The officers seized 17,000 plants in a farmer's field. Police believe the operation is linked to an Asian crime group. Two men, Li Wen Chao, 27 and Bin Pen Hong, 37, have been charged with production of marijuana and possession for the purpose of trafficking.

Source: “Police seize 17,000 marijuana plants.” The Ottawa Citizen. June 23, p. B3.

Vancouver police arrested 13 people who were trimming marijuana bud in an eastside warehouse on May 5. Police also found 2,400 mature plants.

 Source: “Huge pot seizure. The Vancouver Province. May 6, p. A4.

 

Four men were charged in Quebec Court on May 25 after police seized 2,150 marijuana plants in a grow operation inside a Montreal North commercial building. Sophisticated equipment worth $100,000 was also seized.

Source: “Seized pot worth $2.1 million: police.” The Montreal Gazette. May 26, p. A7.

 

In a rural area just north of Kelowna, B.C. the RCMP seized 1,505 mature marijuana plants, surveillance cameras, motion detectors, guard dogs and thousands of dollars worth of electrical equipment. Police found a modern dwelling and a large, green outbuilding nearby, which they suspect was built to shelter the pot farm. The building was subdivided into six rooms, each containing plants in different stages of growth. A 36-year-old man was arrested on the property. Police believe he was the "crop-sitter" hired by criminals to guard the operation around the clock. The operation was "professionally wired and plumbed," say police. The building was cooled by three commercial air-conditioning units, one of which was seeping green sludge toward horse pastures below. Ninety-six high-powered grow lights were suspended above the plants. Hundreds of metres of heavy-duty electrical cables powered the lights and time-release devices that feed the plants liquid fertilizer and water.

Source: “Police believe organized crime behind massive Kelowna grow-op.” Kamloops Daily News. April 16, p. A9

Officers of the West Grey Police Service and the Ministry of Natural Resources seized 1,500 marijuana plants and 120 litres of liquid fertilizers on June 29. The plants and fertilizer were found on a property near Owen Sound in Ontario. Police have no suspects yet and are continuing the investigation.

Source: “OPP, MNR seize marijuana plants.” Owen Sound Sun Times. July 2, p. A3.

On April 14, Ontario Provincial Police seized 1,227 marijuana plants in raids on two rural homes in Central Elgin in Ontario. Two men and a woman were arrested, capping off a two-month investigation. Hydro meters had been bypassed to steal the large amounts of electricity. Besides the marijuana plants, 22 kilograms of processed marijuana and more than $20,000 worth of growing equipment was seized.

Source: “Major pot bust in Central Elgin.” Chatham Daily News. April 16, p. 2.

On May 9, Kelowna RCMP seized more than 1,000 marijuana "clones," which are clipped from potent, high-producing mother plants. The home belongs to a full-patch member of the East End chapter of the Hell’s Angels, which police say provides one of the strongest links yet between the biker group and the illegal pot industry. "We don't often see links this strong,” according to Andy Richards of the Combined Forces Special Enforcement Unit of B.C. “Typically, most members of the Hells Angels that are involved in the grow industry are several steps removed from the hands-on business, especially from the grow houses." A door leading into the mother-plant room had a sticker on it reading, "Support Your Local Hells Angels White Rock." Such stickers are commonly used to serve as a warning to anyone dumb enough to rip off a Hells Angel. Skreptak told police he didn't know about the illegal activity in the Kelowna home and Hells Angels spokesman Rick Ciarniello said Skreptak was renting out the house. However, when they raided the house police discovered that Skreptak's truck, with a Hells Angels sticker on it. Skreptak's fellow Hells Angels will likely see the grow-op as a sign of carelessness, Richards said.

Source: “Angel linked to grow-op: Investigators say it's proof of biker's illegal activity.” The Vancouver Province. May 22, p. A4.

A pot pipeline running from Montreal to some of the northernmost reaches of Canada has been cracked, according to the RCMP. Forty-three people were arrested and two others were being sought as more than 200 police officers carried out an operation targeting people suspected of shipping marijuana from Montreal, as well as the people suspected of dealing it in such places as Nunavik, a northern Quebec Aboriginal community east of Hudson Bay. The operation was able to move four to six kilograms a week. In the distant northern Inuit communities, the marijuana could be sold for as much as $50 a gram and the RCMP estimated that this group was making between $150,000 and $250,000 a week.  The investigation began in 2004 after a RCMP unit based at Montreal's Pierre Elliott Trudeau Airport was tipped off by the Kativik police about suspicious packages that were being flown into their community from Montreal. The man believed to be the head of the organization, Marcello Ruggerio, 39, was arrested at his home in Terrebonne, near Montreal. Two properties owned by  Ruggerio were seized through a court order. RCMP investigators suspect the marijuana was supplied by a Quebec-based biker gang.

Source: “Police break up drug pipeline to the north: 43 arrested in Montreal- based marijuana ring.” National Post. June 1, p. A.4.

By the end of June, U.S. authorities had charged 45 people who were moving large quantities of "B.C. bud" as well as money into Washington state. As part of Operation Money Grab, U.S. Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers posed as smugglers willing to move large amounts of British Columbia pot and the proceeds of the pot trade into the U.S. U.S. authorities also seized about $8 million in illicit money as part of the case. At one point during the investigation, two undercover immigration agents were “robbed in broad daylight at gunpoint in the center of the Best Buy parking lot" in Tukwila [Washington] of about $380,000 in illicit cash, Assistant U.S. Attorney Todd Greenberg said. Jack Nichols, a resident of British Columbia, was accused of being connected to that robbery in March 2004 and now faces a felony charge of conspiracy to engage in bulk cash smuggling. Most of the others arrested have already pleaded guilty. As part of the operation, undercover agents with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police were contacted by an alleged conspirator who sent a text message asking that they arrange for the transportation from the United States to Canada of $500,000 in cash from the sale of marijuana. The message gave the contact person of the money-smuggling venture as "Master Jack," who was later identified as Nichols. On March 30, 2004, two undercover officers, acting at the behest of the conspirator, met a man at the Best Buy parking lot in Tukwila, where he presented them with a green sports bag that he said had $380,000 in it. The man began driving away when a rented Suburban came to an abrupt stop behind the agents' car and its driver pointed an MP-5 assault rifle at them. The agents ran from the scene and when they returned, the green sports bag was gone. Later that day, when the conspirator learned of the robbery, he met with RCMP operatives who agreed to "make good" on the money that had been stolen to maintain their ongoing undercover investigation. The conspirator told the RCMP undercover agent to give $100,000 to "Jack" and provided a number to contact him. The agent later met Nichols and delivered the money to him, according to court documents. Nichols was arrested as he was attempting to enter the United States from Canada.

Source: “45th person charged in 'B.C. bud' sting. Arrested Canadian accused of conspiring to smuggle cash.” Seattle Post-Intelligencer Reporter. June 7.

Six men and two women have been charged in a gang-style kidnapping case that police say involves the export of B.C. marijuana to the U.S. The eight people are accused of kidnapping a 29-year-old man from his Coquitlam business last week and making him drive to various locations across the Lower Mainland. Police say the goal was to move marijuana across the border. Spokesperson Const. Shinder Kirk says it's the first case the new B.C. Integrated Gang Task Force has worked on that has resulted in arrests. The man kidnapped, as well as those arrested, were all Indo-Canadian men. Dozens of young Indo-Canadian men have died in the past decade because of gang related activities.

Source: “Gang squad makes eight arrests.” CBC News. May 10.

Gambling

Some Quebec bar owners say their businesses will be bought up by organized crime if they lose their video lottery terminals. Last fall, Loto Québec sent letters to more than 700 bar owners, informing them they would lose their gambling machines. Raymond McLellan owns a restaurant and bar in St-Lazare. He says there was gambling in bars long before the province allowed VLTs in 1994. He says gambling will continue illegally in bars if the province proceeds with its plan to move all the machines to racetracks.

Source: “Bar owners say losing VLTs will encourage organized crime.” CBC News. April 5.  

Internet-based Crime

The lone teenage computer hacker has been replaced by sophisticated gangs of "cyber criminals" who steal billions from the growing number of financial transactions over the Internet, according to a report commissioned by the Internet security firm McAfee Inc. The report estimates that gangs of "hackers and crackers" raked in as much as $400-billion worldwide last year from Internet fraud, information or identity theft and money laundering for more traditional organized crime groups. The cyber gangs are now hiring themselves out for everything from industrial espionage to money laundering. Many hackers are now loosely organized into cyber gangs, which trade techniques, code-cracking programs or other tools on Internet "Warez" or hacker sites. Their loose structure and use of the Internet to communicate anonymously means that only a tiny fraction of the on-line criminals are caught. The report estimates that less than 5 percent are convicted of cyber crimes. In addition to traditional crimes such as credit-card fraud, one of the growth sectors for online criminals is "phishing" – sending out mass e-mails out asking people for banking or other vital information such as account numbers or passwords. But the most pervasive criminal activity over the Web may be the use of "spyware," hidden programs that can let criminals use your home computer to send out mass e-mails or to collect personal or financial data. Hackers have created hundreds of thousands of unwitting accomplices to their crimes. Some estimate that as many as half of all personal computers in North America may have been infected with spyware programs.

Another report computer viruses – many of them carrying keystroke loggers that grab both personal financial information and company intellectual property – has dramatically increased in the first six months of 2005. Sophos, an anti-spam and anti-virus company that has a major lab in Vancouver detected 7,944 new viruses between January and June. That's up almost 60 per cent over the same period last year. In the first six months of 2004, there was a 30-per-cent growth rate in viruses. From January to June 30 this year, there has been a 59 per cent increase.

And there has also been a threefold increase in “keylogger tojans,” up from an annual rate of about 1,100 annually to nearly 3,300. What the keylogger trojans do is record each keystroke on a computer and then send that back to the originator of the virus. These Trojans can grab bank account information, passwords, ATM numbers, account numbers and can also be used to steal intellectual property from companies. This is an indication that many viruses are no longer the work of vandalizing teenagers, but of individuals and groups working for profit. Sophos said an unprotected, unpatched Windows PC online for just 12 minutes has a 50 per cent chance of being infected by a virus.

Sources: “'Cyber gangs' stealing $400-billion annually: Internet fraud.” National Post. July 6, p. A1. //  “'Crime groups' behind huge outbreak in computer viruses.” The Vancouver Sun. July 2, p. A1.  

 

Money Laundering

After raiding a financial services firm in Toronto's west end, the RCMP say they have broken up a ring that laundered money obtained through crime. RCMP officers searched New Century Financial, which police claim laundered (US) $2 million (U.S.). Also seized as part of the investigation was almost 14 kilograms of marijuana and 10,000 tablets of ecstasy.

Source: “Drug money laundered Police.” Toronto Star. July 8, p. B4.

The federal government is taking aim at money-service businesses, jewellers and corrupt dignitaries with a series of tough new proposals to shore up its anti-terrorist and money laundering regime. In preparation for a mandatory five-year legislative review of the Proceeds of Crime and Terrorist Financing Act, the Department of Finance has published its intention to clamp down further on illicit transactions.  All financial institutions are targeted for more responsibility, but unregulated money-service businesses, such as currency exchanges and ethnic hawalas would be most affected. The proposed regulations would require them to register with Canada's financial intelligence agency, FINTRAC, and make it a crime to operate an unlicensed shop. Like banks, accountants, insurance companies and other financial institutions, money-service businesses are required to report certain "suspicious" transactions to FINTRAC for analysis. Those transactions include possession or control of terrorist- owned property, cash transactions or international electronic fund transfers of more than $10,000 and customs seizure reports. Because money-service businesses are unregulated, however, some are able to operate under the radar and avoid FINTRAC's gaze completely. However, Queen's University law professor Sharryn Aiken argues there is little evidence linking informal money transfer shops to terrorist financing. Also known as hawalas, the businesses allow new Canadians to quickly transfer cash to relatives in countries with little or no formal banking system. Ms. Aiken, who recently co-authored a study on alleged links between hawalas and terrorism, says a crackdown on legitimate businesses will hurt small operators and push non-compliant ones farther underground.

Source: “Crackdown aimed at money laundering, terror financing.” The Ottawa Citizen. July 1, p. A6.

 

The RCMP failed to pursue more than a third of the money-laundering tips passed on by the Financial Transactions and Reports Analysis Centre (FINTRAC), largely because the force lacked the manpower, according to an internal Fintrac report. The Mounties did not open investigations on 45 of the 131 high-quality leads turned over to them by FINTRAC by the end of 2003. Virtually all of the cases not pursued were suspected schemes in Vancouver, Toronto and Montreal, where the national police force places most of its proceeds-of-crime investigators. And about three-quarters of the abandoned tips were not investigated simply because the RCMP had "limited resources," the 2004 report states. "There is no shortage of evidence against these individuals committing crime, just a shortage of investigators to bring all the criminals to justice." A spokeswoman for the RCMP said even though some disclosures from Fintrac are set aside, the information may still be useful at some future date.

The findings suggest the extent of money laundering in Canada, most of which stems from drug trafficking, far exceeds the ability of the RCMP to investigate. However, the RCMP is not the only agency that is under-funded. While the Canadian government has organized a multi-agency fight against organized crime, money laundering, and terrorist financing, all agencies involved will need more resources to keep up with well-financed criminals, according to the report. "Organized crime will always expend the resources to ensure access to the most sophisticated information technology to avoid detection and so it is important for Fintrac to have the resources to keep pace with this element," concludes the report. 

Ottawa has spent about $174 million in the past five years on various agencies that work together to combat money laundering and organized crime. About $92 million of the money has gone to establish the Financial Transactions and Reports Analysis Centre. Smaller amounts went to the Canadian Border Services Agency, Canada Revenue Agency, the RCMP as well as the Justice and Finance departments.

Sources: “Manpower shortage lets money launderers off clean. RCMP failed to pursue a third of tips: report.” Edmonton Journal. June 5, p. A5. // “More cash necessary to fight well-funded criminals: review.” Charlottetown Guardian. May 25, p. B5.

 

Saskatchewan’s government introduced two new pieces of legislation aimed at organized crime in the province. The Seizure of Criminal Property Act allows property that is being actively used in carrying out an unlawful activity or is the proceeds of an unlawful activity to be seized and sold. Under the Criminal Enterprise Suppression Act managers or owners of a business who are members of a criminal organization could see provincial tax or liquor licences withheld or receive a court order prohibiting them from storing or selling liquor.

Source: “Legislation targets organized crime.” Regina Leader Post. April 21, p. A4.

The Federal government moved ahead with its plans to introduce its so-called “reverse onus” proceeds of crime legislation, which will require those convicted of serious crimes to forfeit to the Crown any property the offenders are unable to demonstrate was legally or honestly acquired.

Under a sweeping bill tabled by Justice Minister Irwin Cotler, the Crown would first have to prove, on a balance of probabilities, that either the offender engaged in a pattern of criminal activity in the past 10 years for the purposes of receiving material benefits, or that the offender's assets are more extensive than what he or she could reasonably have acquired from the offender's legitimate income. A judge would retain the discretion to decline to order forfeiture if the judge deemed forfeiture not to be "in the interests of justice". But the judge would have to give a written explanation why he or she refused to make the order. The procedure would apply to all organized crime offences in the Criminal Code that are punishable by five or more years in prison. It would also apply to those convicted of committing the indictable offences of drug trafficking, drug importing and exporting and production of drugs.

While all federal parties represented in Parliament first backed the legislation in principle, the NDP has stymied plans to fast track the bill into law. NDP justice critic Joe Comartin confirmed his party won't give the necessary unanimous consent to push the proposed proceeds-of-crime bill through all stages next week because his party has doubts about the constitutionality of the proposed laws. Legal critics warn the it may be unconstitutional to reverse the normal burden of proof by forcing offenders to demonstrate that none of their property is the product of criminal activity.

Sources: “Proceeds of crime bill to be tabled this week.” The Ottawa Citizen. May 28, p. A5. // “Lawyers criticize new bill as 'unconstitutional'.” Sherbrooke Record. June 1, p. 12. // “NDP withholds fast-track support for government's proceeds-of-crime bill.” National Post. June 25, p. A6.

 

Smuggling

Organized crime groups and other criminals are "well entrenched" in Canada's three largest marine ports and have "limitless" ways to smuggle goods into the country, according to a RCMP report entitled "Project Salve," which looks at the involvement of criminal organizations, and the possible involvement of terrorist groups, in the ports of Vancouver, Montreal and Halifax. "What is undeniable is that criminals are well entrenched in the port environment," says the classified 2004 report that was recently made public. "Some groups have rooted themselves firmly on the docks over decades," it adds. The report says the large vessels that bring goods into the ports present "vast smuggling opportunities" and that criminals can quickly change their approach if one method of smuggling is foiled by authorities. "The methods employed by smugglers to conceal their illicit goods on board a ship are basically limitless," reads one paragraph under a section called Modus Operandi. "Whenever a clear trend is detected by police and customs officials and repeated seizures are made, the smugglers will usually switch to another method, until that one is detected too."

Several busts are cited to show the range of tactics. In the summer of 2003, customs officers checked three containers at Deltaport, one of the terminals in Vancouver. Inside, they found 25,410,000 counterfeit cigarettes bound for the B.C. market. Later that fall, authorities seized 118,100 cartons hidden in a shipment of porcelain goods, and 14.8 kilograms of phoney Viagra pills tucked away in more boxes of cigarettes. In October 2003, law enforcement watched as about 40,000 counterfeit Duracell batteries arrived in Vancouver and were then shipped by train to Montreal. Officers set up a raid, and found another 20,000 on arrival. "All 60,000 batteries were of poor quality; some even exploded during testing at a government lab." Other checks at all three ports revealed tonnes of narcotics hidden in sofas, boxes of markers, potato starch and cat food, as well as several shipments of stolen luxury vehicles. Cars and trucks bound for Eastern European and West African markets are shipped in containers via Montreal, while those destined for the West Indies leave Halifax. Major Canadian marine ports handle about three million containers each year, and a maximum of three per cent face any type of inspection. Because the crimes are almost always inside jobs, they're all the more difficult to uncover.

Organized criminal involvement in drug, people and counterfeit product smuggling at Canada's biggest marine ports is so pervasive that customs and police officers have been intimidated and "independent" thieves won't dare work alone, according to the report. "With these elements exerting general control over their work area, law-abiding co-workers often find themselves coerced into co-operating in illegal acts or turning a blind eye". Very few petty criminals “would consider operating as 'independents' in an environment where crime groups are so omnipresent."

Sources: “Smuggling opportunities 'limitless'.” The Vancouver Sun. May 14, p. B1. // “How crooks infiltrate our ports: Dockworkers operate in 'crucial' positions, law-abiding employees coerced in co-operating.” Victoria Times - Colonist. May 14, p. A3.

Environmentalists revealed how hardwood flooring sold across the U.S. is linked to the world's largest illegal timber smuggling operation. Following two years of undercover investigations, the Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA), a non-profit group, has exposed how a leading distributor of hardwood flooring – the ironically named Goodfellow Inc. – is selling flooring made from logs illegally felled in Papua province of Indonesia. EIA has documented how 300,000 cubic meters of stolen merbau logs are exported from Papua each month. Most of these logs are going to feed China's massive timber processing industry. Chinese factories export merbau flooring to North American distributors including Goodfellow, a leading timber importer and hardwood floor sales company with offices in New York, New Hampshire and Washington state and over 7,000 U.S. and Canadian customers. Goodfellow was previously implicated in purchases of conflict timber from Liberia, a trade which fueled that country's civil war and the slaughter of thousands of civilians. Although EIA does not allege that Goodfellow broke any laws, Goodfellow's CEO pledged to cooperate with any government investigation.

EIA investigators posing as traders met with Sihe Wood, Goodfellow's Chinese merbau flooring suppliers. A Sihe executive confirmed in taped interviews that it buys merbau logs imported from Indonesia. The Chinese company is a member of the U.S. National Wood Flooring Association headquartered in Chesterfield, Mo.

The expose by EIA and Telapak, a leading Indonesian environmental group, triggered an order last month by Indonesia's President for a massive crackdown in Papua against forestry officials, Army personnel, military police, and Malaysian financiers and timber company executives. Indonesian officials have reportedly seized almost 65,000 logs, 20,000 cubic meters of cut timber, 788 pieces of heavy equipment, 34 trucks/vehicles, 4 ships, 13 barges and 49 chain saws from 49 locations in Papua province. The president of a Malaysian company with concessions on 800,000 hectares of Papua forest has been arrested. A senior official of China's State Forestry Administration also vowed last month to take action against importers and manufacturers receiving the smuggled logs.

"The U.S. and Canadian timber industry need to stop turning a blind eye to the massive illegal timber and wood imports flooding into North American markets," said Allan Thornton, EIA president. "We need to fast track commitments made by the U.S. and Canada at last month's G8 meeting to stop imports of illegal timber b- and to do that we need the timber industry to stop selling timber and wood products stolen from Asian rainforests," he added. Last month, the U.S., Canada and other G8 nations agreed to new measures to halt imports of illegally cut timber. EIA is calling for the U.S. and Canada to enact new laws to ban the import and sale of stolen wood. "It is time for the U.S. and Canada to act in support of the people of Indonesia and other countries who are fighting powerful organized crime syndicates and corrupt high level officials to stop the plundering of their forests," said Thornton.

Source: “Investigators Expose U.S. Link to Billion Dollar Wood Smuggling Ring.” U.S. Newswire. April 18, p. 1.

Four provinces served notice in June that they will join the federal government and Quebec in a law suit against tobacco company JTI Macdonald Corp., to recover money lost during the 1990s when governments dropped taxes to curb smuggling. Ontario, British Columbia, Nova Scotia, and New Brunswick all said they will file legal documents indicating they will be suing JTI Macdonald Corp., to recover the lost tax dollars. Ottawa filed a suit in 2003 seeking $1.5 billion in lost revenues. The Quebec suit, filed in 2004 under the province's tax laws, seeks almost $1.4 billion. Ottawa launched its law suit after the RCMP laid charges against JTI and related companies for smuggling tobacco products between 1991 and 1996.  It is alleged the tobacco companies supplied U.S. smugglers with untaxed Canadian blend cigarettes that were shipped back to Canada through the Akwesasne Reserve near Cornwall, Ont., for sale on the black market. The company is the third largest manufacturer of tobacco products in Canada, with approximately twelve per cent of the domestic cigarette market. Its major trademarks are Export 'A' and Vantage. The notice of claim filed by Nova Scotia said JTI Macdonald profited from illegal activities by "engaging in smuggling, deceit, fraudulent misrepresentation, and civil conspiracy resulting in a tax liability owed to the province of Nova Scotia." The majority of the Nova Scotia claim is for forgone revenues from 1994 to 2001, a period when tobacco taxes were kept lower to curb smuggling. The remainder includes taxes that should have been paid on cigarettes and other tobacco products sold illegally between 1989 and 1995.

Source: “Four more provinces join tobacco smuggling suit.” Canadian Press. June 28.

Smuggling of and Trafficking in People

Cheng Chui Ping, who was known as "Big Sister Ping," faces up to 35 years in prison after she was convicted in U.S. District Court in Manhattan on charges that include conspiracy to commit alien smuggling, money laundering and trafficking in ransom proceeds. However, the jury announced it was deadlocked on a count of hostage- taking, which carries a life prison term upon conviction. Two snakeheads who once worked for Sister Ping described her multi-million-dollar empire that smuggled immigrants out of China to Hong Kong, Thailand, Belize, Guatemala, Mexico, Africa, Canada, and eventually to New York City. Police linked her to activities in British Columbia. They said her operation used ships, cars, planes, trucks and vans to move immigrants and held them hostage until the smuggling fees were paid. Witnesses testified she also financed the ill-fated "Golden Venture" freighter, which ran aground off New York City in May 1993 after making a 25,800-kilometre voyage from China packed with 300 illegal immigrants. Ten of them drowned. Cheng fled to China in 1994 but was arrested in April 2000 in Hong Kong. In 2003 she was extradited to the U. S. for trial.

Sources: “'Snakehead' guilty in U.S.” The Vancouver Province. June 23, p. A22. // “'Sister Ping' guilty in human trafficking scheme that killed 10.” National Post. June 23, p. A17.

 The owner of a small massage parlour in a Vancouver strip mall has been charged in the first prosecution of human trafficking in Canada. Michael Ng, 42, is charged with two counts of human trafficking under the three-year-old Immigration and Refugee Protection Act. Ng ran King City Massage, which recently became Prosper City Massage. The massage parlour has a sign describing itself as an acupuncture therapy centre. An 11-month police investigation into activities at King City Massage resulted in a series of charges filed in April, alleging that Ng, 42, brought women into Canada under false pretenses and forced them into prostitution. The maximum penalty for human trafficking is life in prison and a $1-million fine. Ng initially became the target of a police probe on May 11, 2004 when one of his female employees at King City Massage left the building, phoned the police and reported he had assaulted her. Vancouver police subsequently charged Ng with running a common bawdy house and living off the avails of prostitution. The VPD also determined that the women were victims of human trafficking and formed a joint investigation with other agencies. The broader probe led to the human trafficking charges and to a number of other charges related to coercing women to come to Canada to work as prostitutes in his business.

The U.S. State Department, in its 2004 annual report on human trafficking, pointed at Vancouver as a hot spot, saying thousands of migrants, aided by organized crime syndicates, arrive and then disappear into massage parlours, brothels and karaoke bars here and in the U.S.

Source: “B.C. man faces first human trafficking charge.” The Vancouver Sun. April 14, p. A1. 

Almost 12 per cent of people who arrived in Canada without proper documents during a six-year period were directly linked to a smuggler or escort, a federal intelligence study reveals. The 63-page study, Illegal Migrant Smuggling to Canada, is the result of the RCMP's Project Safehouse, an effort to estimate the scope and nature of human smuggling. The report was prepared jointly by the RCMP and Citizenship and Immigration Canada. It examined data from 1997 through 2002 to estimate how much illicit migration to Canada results from smuggling activity. During the period, 14,792 people who reached Canada or were intercepted attempting to do so had associations with an escort or facilitator – someone who provided services including a travel document, air ticket, safe house or referral to people smuggling contacts. The figure represents 11.9 per cent of the total number travelling by air, land or ship. Canadians represented the vast majority of those who helped smuggle people from abroad by air. Previous government estimates had pegged the number of migrants relying on people smugglers as much higher. The newly released study relied on actual cases rather than the previous overall estimates.

The study also found:

o    Smuggling fees paid to reach Canada, which range from $20,000 US to $50,000 US per person, have increased over time.

o      A growing potential for smugglers to bribe Canadian authorities as the profitability of the enterprise increases.

o     The possibility that tighter border security since the 9/11 terrorist attacks could "force more people to rely on the services of smugglers."

"Canada has emerged as a preferred destination in the human smuggling marketplace," according to the report. The study says smugglers promote Canada as a destination by highlighting perceptions of a generous immigration regime and a chance to obtain citizenship following a successful refugee claim.

The study says while there has been successful co-operation between the Immigration Department and RCMP on migrant smuggling, "the effort has been piecemeal, lacking a comprehensive national strategy" to provide a full understanding of the issue. The authors call for various measures to improve the overall federal response.

Source: “Study released on human-smuggling market.” Canadian Press. May 1.

Organized Crime Genres

Asian

On May 20, Peter Huynh was gunned down in his car outside a southeast Calgary gas station. According to Calgary police he was a known associate of a city gang and was also suspected of being involved in the drug trade. The 19-year-old's death is the city's second gang-related homicide this year, according to the Calgary Police Service homicide unit. (John Pheng was killed on Feb. 26 and was later named as the killer of Jason Dang, who was fatally stabbed Jan. 1, 2004). Calgary police initially considered a connection between Huynh's death and the murder of John Pheng but have since ruled it out.  Police are still searching for the suspect in Huynh's death. The shooter fled the scene in a compact, red import. Witnesses at the scene described him as Asian.

Source: “Police say victim was gang associate: Crime connections a shock to family.” Calgary Herald. May 27, p. B7.

A Chinese fugitive accused of being the mastermind behind a massive smuggling network into China is still fighting to stay in Canada. In April, the federal court of appeal upheld a ruling denying refugee status for Lai Changxing, his wife and family. An appeal has now been filed by his lawyer and the federal government has 60 days to respond. Chinese authorities claim Lai was the brains behind an elaborate scheme to smuggle more than $10 billion worth of goods into the country with protection from corrupt Chinese officials. Dozens of Chinese government officials who were accused of facilitating the smuggling operation, have been arrested and executed.

Source: “Chinese fugitive fights to stay in Canada.” CKNW (Vancouver, AM980). June 13. 

 

Italian

On April 21, Louise Russo was shot while standing in a sandwich shop in the Toronto suburb of North York during a murder attempt carried out jointly by a member of the Hells Angels and a member of a Sicilian crime group. The stray bullet was intended for underworld figures. Because of the shooting Russo is now paralyzed from the waist down.

Toronto police and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police laid more than 100 charges against Pietro (Peter) Scarcella, 54, of Vaughan, and three alleged associates, including a member of a local chapter of the Hells Angels. Police say Scarcella ordered the bungled underworld hit, in which gunmen in a van sprayed bullets into California Sandwiches on Sheppard Ave. in North York. The Globe and Mail reported that Scarcella is a high-level organized crime figure who controls much of the illicit gambling in the Toronto region. Speculation is that he was worried his business was being threatened by a recently arrived Italian criminal.

The investigation into the shooting led police to discover the existence of two fugitive Sicilian criminals in Toronto who were attempting to push into illegal gambling. Several months before the shooting, Michele Modica arrived in Canada. He is alleged to be an important member of the Sicilian Mafia and is wanted in Italy on charges of belonging to the Mafia. While he was in Toronto, Modica was also allegedly visited by a high-ranking figure from the New York Mafia involved in the narcotics trade. According to the National Post, Modica was a key target in American heroin and cocaine investigations in the late 1980s. Modica was apparently trying to recruit people to compete with the Scarcella organization in activities such as gambling. According to the Toronto Star, Modica and another Sicilian man – whose identity is not known, but may be his son – were avoiding Italian authorities by hiding out in Vaughan, Ont. One news report stated that his presence caused friction with more established men in the city's underworld. Another stated that Modica became a target “after enraging local underworld figures because they felt they had been cheated out of money and double-crossed.” The two intended victims were allegedly threatened by members and associates of the Hells Angels and other underworld figures before the shooting attempt. A RCMP press release vaguely states that the shooting “stemmed from a dispute between A and other organized crime figures during which A ordered the murder of some of his associates.”

Modica was in the sandwich shop when the shots were fired, but escaped unharmed. Louise Russo was standing in front of Modica when the shots were fired. According to the National Post, Modica left Canada about six months after the shooting at the sandwich shop.

Scarcella, who was born in Castellammare del Golfo, Sicily, came to Canada with his parents, two brothers and three sisters. In the early 1970s, he worked at a parking lot in downtown Toronto where one of Paul Volpe's brothers used to park his car. Scarcella rose to a position of trust in  Volpe's criminal organization. He became his personal driver, and as Volpe moved to further insulate himself from his operations,  Scarcella acted as his go-between with their street-level associates. Paul Volpe was a made member of the Magaddino organized crime family, and a dominant figure in Toronto’s underworld from the 1950s until his death in 1983. Scarcella escaped an attempted underworld hit in 1981, when members of a rival underworld faction ordered his murder and that of his boss, Paul Volpe. That murder attempt was foiled when a member of the Satan's Choice biker gang, Cecil Kirby, turned police informer. Volpe was eventually murdered in November 1983. Scarcella had lunch with Volpe in Woodbridge shortly before the killing and was one of the last people to see him alive. Scarcella continued to be an integral part of Volpe's organization, having a hand running the gambling and loan-sharking operations, while also serving as a high-ranking official in a construction union. As Volpe’s organization began to implode, Scarcella forged closer ties with Vito Rizutto, a fellow Sicilian who is the alleged head of the Montreal Mafia and is currently waiting to be extradited to the United States on murder charges. Some press reports state that the arrest of Vito Rizzuto in January 2004, created uncertainty and opportunities in the underworld, which men like Scarcella and Modica were trying to capitalize on.

According to a RCMP press release, the following men were arrested and charged in the shooting:

Peter Scarcella, 54, Vaughan, charged with two counts of Conspiracy to Commit Murder.

Antonio Borrelli, 29, Richmond Hill, charged with two counts of Conspiracy to Commit Murder, nine counts of Attempt Murder, 23 firearms-related charges.

Mark Peretz, 38, Vaughan, charged with two counts of Conspiracy to Commit Murder, nine counts of Attempt Murder, 21 firearms-related charges.

Paris Christoforou, 27, Mississauga, charged with two counts of Conspiracy to Commit Murder, nine counts of Attempt Murder, 21 firearms-related charges.

Christoforou is a full-patch member of the North Toronto chapter of the Hells Angels. The alleged co-operation between biker gangs and Sicilian criminals does not surprise police. "In general, we are seeing a trend towards collaboration between identifiable organized crime groups," according to RCMP Insp. Don Panchuk, who is the head of the Combined Forces Special Enforcement Unit in Toronto.  "Different organized crime groups that in the past would be engaged in competition are now working together to get a job done for their mutual benefit.”

Sources: “Russo bullet meant for drug dealer.” National Post. April 15, A1. // “Paralyzed mother victim of mob hit, police say; 'Innocent victim' of organized crime.” Toronto Star. April 15, p. A1. // “Arrests Made in Louise Russo Case.” RCMP Press Release. April 15. // “Mom shot in bungled mob hit.” Torstar News Service, April 15. // “Mob war led to Russo shooting, sources say.” Globe and Mail. April 16, p. A12

 

After living as a fugitive in Canada for more than a year, Antonio Commisso, 49, an alleged high-ranking member of the N'drangheta crime group based in Reggio Calabria, was apprehended by an RCMP-led task force working in conjunction with Italian state police. Commisso, who was living in Woodbridge, Ontario, was arrested at his residence on an extradition warrant issued in Canada at the request of the Italian Government.

“Italy is seeking the extradition of Mr Commisso that he may answer to charges of involvement in a criminal organization in our country,” said Renato Panvino of the Polizia di Stato, Reggio Calabria in Italy. Panvino was in Toronto for the arrest, and called Commisso "a very high-profile case" in Italy.

Commisso entered Canada on May 14, 2004, just a month after he was sentenced by an Italian court to 10 years and seven months for Mafia association and trafficking in weapons. Panvino said that Commisso was convicted and sentenced April 15, 2004, for heading 'Ndrangheta, considered Italy's most powerful Mafia group. "He was promoting the sale of illicit arms, explosives and drugs," said Panvino. Commisso, who is known by his underworld moniker "the lawyer," reportedly leads the Siderno branch of the 'Ndrangheta, the most important group of the Calabrian mafia. He is a nephew of Cosimo Commisso, known as "the quail," the most notorious member of the group and its former leader, who is serving a life sentence in Italy for his involvement with the Calabrian mafia.

After serving two years in jail in Italy, Antonio Commisso was released from custody with conditions that he remain in the town of Siderno and report to authorities. He did for a time before fleeing to Canada, where his wife and daughter have been living. Despite being convicted of such serious crimes abroad federal authorities here had no choice but to admit him because the Italian-born Commisso was declared a permanent resident of Canada in 1974, said Anna Pape, a spokeswoman for the Canada Services Border Agency. The federal government was already taking steps to have Commisso permanently deported from the country. In May 2004, the month he returned to Canada, a "departure order" was issued on the grounds he had not met residency requirements. Commisso had appealed that decision, and was waiting for the matter to be heard by the Immigration and Refugee Board. That appeal, however, would be suspended if extradition proceedings are successful. The Italian government has 30 days to submit its reasons for wanting Commisso back on Italian soil.

According to Panvino, 'Ndrangheta is the most powerful mafia operating in Italy today. The 'Ndrangheta criminal organization is divided into cells usually named after the city or town in Italy where they are located. However, Panvino noted, "this criminal organization has tentacles all over the world". According to the National Post, the 'Ndrangheta criminal organization has an estimated 6,000 members scattered throughout the world. The name of the organization derives from a Greek word expression for virtue and hero, and among the mobsters has come to mean "society of honourable men." By the late 1880s, the 'Ndrangheta was well known for its use of violence in the city of Reggio Calabria, where it became known as "the sect that fears nothing." Nearly 100 years later, in the 1970s, 'Ndrangheta crime bosses began to forge international relations with other crime groups as they branched out into the drug trade.

Sources: “Crime boss arrested outside Toronto.” Globe and Mail. June 28. // Combined Forces Special Enforcement Unit (Greater Toronto) News Release. June 27. // “Police arrest convicted Mafia boss; Woodbridge man wanted in Italy Canadian resident used his own name.” Toronto Star. June 29, p. B2. // “Alleged Italian mafia chief nabbed in Woodbridge: Italian citizen linked with 'sect that fears nothing'.” National Post. June 28, p. A10.

Outlaw Motorcycle Gangs

In a case testing Canada's anti-gang laws, an Ontario judge has ruled the Hells Angels is a criminal organization, a finding that leaves members of the motorcycle gang open to longer prison terms for crimes they commit. Madam Justice Michele Fuerst found Woodbridge Hells Angels Steven (Tiger) Lindsay, 40, and Ray Bonner, 35, guilty of extortion and of committing that crime "in association" with a criminal organization. Those convicted under the law face the possibility of an additional 14 years in prison. Although Quebec Hells Angels individually have been found to be members of criminal organizations, this is the first case in which the Hells Angels of Canada as an entity has been declared a criminal organization.

Fuerst found that on January 23, 2002, Lindsay and Bonner were both wearing the Hells Angels death-head insignia when they arrived at the home of a Barrie businessman who had sold them outdated equipment to steal satellite television signals. By wearing the Hells Angels death-head logo Lindsay and Bonner "presented themselves not as individuals, but as members of a group with a reputation for violence and intimidation," wrote Fuerst.

Lindsay demanded that the businessman, who cannot be identified because of a court-ordered ban, pay him $75,000 or he would "end up in hospital." The businessman was so "scared and confused" that he fled from the home, never to sleep there again. In evidence captured by a hidden microphone by the businessman at a Barrie area restaurant on January 31, 2002, Lindsay is heard saying there are "five other guys who are the same kind of (expletive) as me." Based on this evidence, Justice Fuerst wrote, "It is a reasonable inference that  Lindsay intended to communicate that he would send other members of Hells Angels" to the businessman's home. Lindsay and Bonner deliberately invoked their membership in the Hells Angels "with intent to inspire fear in their victim," according to Justice Fuerst. "They committed extortion with the intention to do so in association with a criminal organization, the HAMC (Hells Angels Motorcycle Club) to which they belonged," she stated.

The anti-gang law, passed by Parliament in 2001, was designed to give police more teeth to fight bikers in Quebec and other forms of organized crime. It makes it a crime to commit a serious offence for the benefit of, at "the direction of" or "in association with" a criminal organization. A criminal organization is defined as a group whose main activities include committing crimes for some benefit.

Source: “Being Hells Angel is now a crime; Court case a test of anti-gang law.” Toronto Star. July 1, p. A1.

Edmonton police believe there may be a new biker gang in town. A motorcyclist wearing a red and white "Edmonton" gang patch emblazoned with a large C and two Zs, with a background of flames, was seen riding with a group of Hells Angels in late March.  "It would appear to be a puppet club logo," said Insp. Joe Loran of Edmonton’s Integrated Response to Organized Crime Unit. While he hadn't seen the new patch, Loran speculated it might belong to the Zig Zag Crew, a Hells Angels puppet club out of Winnipeg. Police also confirmed the Red Demons, another puppet club for the Hells Angels, had set up shop in Grande Prairie, Alberta. The Criminal Intelligence Service of Alberta said the Red Demons started that chapter in December or January. According to the Edmonton Sun, the move was "part of a reorganization of the Hells Angels following the Bandidos patch-over." The presence of the Bandidos in Edmonton was confirmed when one of the gang's members, Joey Campbell, also known as Joey Morin, was gunned down outside a west-end strip club in January 2004. In efforts to avoid a war, the Bandidos were patched over to the Angels, said the source. Hells Angels' bosses reportedly had been unimpressed with the absorption of the Bandidos into the outlaw gang last fall.

Source: “Different colours. New patch seen on city streets may be the Zig Zag Crew.” Edmonton Sun. April 4.

An member of the London, Ontario chapter of the Hells Angels, who police believe is at the centre of the drug trade in Peterborough, Ontario, was arrested on June 2 in one of dozens of raids that were executed across the province. Shawn Gordon Boshaw, 32, is charged with 12 counts of breach of recognizance, conspiracy to traffic in a controlled substance, and instructing the commission of an offence for a criminal organization. The armed takedowns, executed at dawn in Peterborough and other cities by 100 police officers, also nabbed his three lieutenants and 25 other people police say are Hells Angels associates. The arrests follow a year-long investigation into a drug trafficking network in Peterborough and the surrounding area. Fourteen search warrants were executed in Peterborough and police seized cocaine, ecstasy, marijuana, oxycodone, steroids, Percocets and drug paraphernalia, along with $50,000 in cash. Police say the arrests have dealt a long-term blow to the outlaw biker gang's criminal network in the area. "We didn't seize a large quantity of drugs today, but picture what they did in the last 11 months," said Jackman. "The people you see here are fairly significant players in the drug trade. It's going to be significant for the city. We certainly disrupted the drug trade in Peterborough today."

Sources: “City drug bust nabs 25.” Peterborough Examiner. June 3, p. A1. // “OPP drug sweep collars Kingston man, Hells Angel.” Kingston Whig- Standard. June 4, p. 11.

In the third week of June, officers from the joint forces investigation dubbed Project Dante arrested and charged 16 people for their connection in drug trafficking and organized crime in the Greater Kingston area and other locales in Eastern Ontario. As a result of Project Dante, 16 people have been charged. This  includes three Hells Angels members from its “Nomad” chapters in Quebec and Ontario: Brett Simmons, James Belbeck, and Richer Geneau. A total of 102 charges were laid, ranging from drug trafficking to conspiracy and operating as a criminal organization. Seizures of cocaine, ecstasy, marihuana and other drugs with a retail street value exceeding $1 million were made from traffickers allegedly working for members of the Hells Angels organization. Police also seized $50,000 in cash as well as Hells Angels insignia including patches and jewellery.  Project Dante is a joint forces investigation involving OPP's Drug  Enforcement Section and the Biker Enforcement Unit, Kingston Police, Ottawa Police, Belleville Police and the RCMP with assistance from the Surété du Quebec, and the Escouade Régionale Mixte de l'Outaouais. "This is very significant for the drug distribution network of the Hells Angels in Kingston and the surrounding area," according to Det. Insp. Don Bell, a member of the Ontario Provincial Police biker enforcement unit. "I would say these individuals are highly influential in the Kingston area."

Simmons is considered the highest ranking Hells Angel member of the three arrested. He became a top lieutenant in the Nomad’s chapter and quickly established his own reputed cell. He became a full-patch member in 2004, while in prison, and when released last year, he became a commander under Paul (Sasquatch) Porter, the president of the Ontario Nomads, headquartered in Ottawa. His arrival in Ontario gave the Hells Angels’ Nomads eight members. Project Dante was launched in September 2003 with a specific focus on the Nomad chapter based in eastern Ontario. The Nomads had been successful in building a "healthy" criminal distribution network in this area before the arrests, said Det. Insp. Bell. The arrests have reduced Nomad's Ontario ranks to six, the bare minimum to keep the chapter afloat, according to Hell’s Angels rules. If one more Nomad lands in jail, the Ottawa-based gang will lose its Hells Angels status.

Sources: “Project Dante charges 16 for organized crime, conspiracy and drug trafficking.” Canadian News Wire. June 21. // “Police arrest key players in drug trafficking.” The Ottawa Citizen. Jun 28,  p. B3. // “Hells Angels cell had 'tight control' of Kingston area drug market. Police nab 14 in trafficking sting.” Kingston Whig Standard. Jun 23, p. 3. // “Police deal crushing blow to Hells Angels in Ottawa. Raids dismantle two alleged networks, scoop up key leader.” The Ottawa Citizen. Jun 23, 2005, p A1.

 

On June 27, Gregory Wooley, a member of the Rockers, a Hells puppet gang, was sentenced to 13 years in prison after pleading guilty to conspiracy to commit murder, trafficking, and belonging to a criminal gang. He was the last of 41 gang members rounded up by police as part of Operation Springtime in 2001 to be sentenced.  Superior Court Justice Jerry Zigman credited Wooley with the time he has already served, reducing his time behind bars to 4 ½ years. He must serve half before applying for parole. He said Wooley's relatively low status in the gang, as well as the fact he has been behind bars for much of the time he's been a member, should be taken into consideration. "He wasn't known as a businessman within the organization." Wooley, a black man, became part of the Rockers even though the Hells Angels generally bar non-white members. During the drug war among biker gangs, members of the Hells Angels plotted the killings of members of rival gangs like the Dark Circle, the Rock Machine and the Bandidos. Wooley's role was "to do housekeeping in the north of the city, just like it was done in the south of the city," Richmond said.

Source: “Final biker gangster sentenced to 13 years.” The Montreal Gazette. Jun 28, p. A9.

Street / Youth Gangs

On April 29, Toronto police laid 108 new charges against nine men, all alleged to belong to Galloway Boys street gang, which terrorized a Scarborough community with indiscriminate shootings while trying to establish supremacy over another gang. The charges include several for first-degree and attempted murder. In an investigation dubbed Project Pathfinder, police targeted the Galloway Boys, a Scarborough gang that spent much of 2003 battling its arch rival, the Malvern Crew. Dozens of previous charges were announced in October, 2004. The charges are in connection with four homicides from 2002 to 2004, in addition to other acts of violence. Charges were also laid under the federal anti-organized crime legislation. Project Pathfinder was launched after Brenton Charlton, was shot dead while on his way home from work in March, 2003, in the area of Neilson Avenue and Finch Avenue East. Among those arrested in October was Tyshan Riley, 23, who was charged with killing Charlton. Riley, who now faces 25 new charges, is also accused in the slayings of Eric Mutiisa, 23, who was shot to death in November, 2002, and Omar Hortley, 21, killed in January, 2004.

Sources: “108 more charges laid in Scarborough gang shootings.”National Post. April 30, p. A2.

Enforcement

Nova Scotia’s provincial government is dedicating $6.1 million to expand the Nova Scotia Criminal Intelligence Service, which collects, analyzes and shares information on organized crime in the province.

The unit is one of nine across the country – associated with the Criminal Intelligence Service Canada – that focus on organized and major crimes. With the new money, there will be 26 people gathering crime information across the province instead of six. This contingent will include officers from Canada Border Services, RCMP, local police, and the military.

Source: “Police to step up organized-crime watch.” CBC News. April 14.

As part of their tri-lateral meetings in March, Prime Minister Paul Martin, U.S. President George Bush, and Mexican President Vicente Fox unveiled the Security and Prosperity Partnership of North America. The partnership is an effort to increase security, while enhancing prosperity among the three countries through greater cooperation and information-sharing. It includes efforts to develop and implement a comprehensive North American strategy for combating transnational threats to the three countries, including terrorism, organized crime, illegal drugs, migrant and contraband smuggling, and human trafficking. Few details were released on how these lofty objectives would be obtained.

Source: “Security and Prosperity Partnership of North America.” Public Safety and Preparedness Canada News Release. May 18.