Crime in Canada:
A Quarterly Summary
to June, 2005
Organized Criminal Activities
Smuggling of Contraband
Smuggling of and Trafficking in People
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.
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.
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.
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.
“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.
“Police say credit-card scam has international links.” Calgary Herald.
April 21, p. B2.
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.
“Dial-A-Dope cut off in major bust.” Halifax Daily News. June 21, p.
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.
“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
“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.
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
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.
“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.
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
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
“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.
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
“Police seize 17,000 marijuana plants.” The Ottawa Citizen. June 23,
Vancouver police arrested 13 people who were trimming
marijuana bud in an eastside warehouse on May 5. Police also found 2,400
“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.
“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
“OPP, MNR seize marijuana plants.” Owen Sound Sun Times. July 2, p.
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.
“Major pot bust in Central Elgin.” Chatham Daily News. April 16, p.
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.
“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.
“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
“45th person charged in 'B.C. bud' sting. Arrested Canadian accused of
conspiring to smuggle cash.” Seattle Post-Intelligencer Reporter.
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.
“Gang squad makes eight arrests.” CBC News. May 10.
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
“Bar owners say losing VLTs will encourage organized crime.” CBC News.
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.
“'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.
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
“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.
“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.
“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.
“Legislation targets organized crime.” Regina Leader Post. April 21,
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
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
“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.
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
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."
“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.
“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.
“Four more provinces join tobacco smuggling suit.” Canadian Press.
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.
“'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.
“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:
fees paid to reach Canada, which range from $20,000 US to $50,000 US per
person, have increased over time.
growing potential for smugglers to bribe Canadian authorities as the
profitability of the enterprise increases.
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
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.
“Study released on human-smuggling market.” Canadian Press. May 1.
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.
“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
“Chinese fugitive fights to stay in Canada.” CKNW (Vancouver, AM980).
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
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
Mark Peretz, 38, Vaughan, charged with two counts of
Conspiracy to Commit Murder, nine counts of Attempt Murder, 21
Paris Christoforou, 27, Mississauga, charged with two counts
of Conspiracy to Commit Murder, nine counts of Attempt Murder, 21
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.”
“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
“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.
“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.
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
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.
“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.
“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."
“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.
“Project Dante charges 16 for organized crime, conspiracy and drug
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.
“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.
“108 more charges laid in Scarborough gang shootings.”National Post.
April 30, p. A2.
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
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.
“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.
“Security and Prosperity Partnership of North America.” Public Safety and
Preparedness Canada News Release. May 18.