Tuesday, December 27, 2005

The rise of gangs in Canada

Brandon Sun:

They're tough guys bent on making big bucks in the drug trade, ready to stick a gun to anyone's head for messing with their turf.

Cities like Vancouver and Toronto have been rocked by a wave of gang violence in recent years, and although the dynamics between the cities are markedly different, there is one common denominator: young men with macho bravado eager to make big money in illegal drugs.

Montreal, Calgary, Edmonton and Winnipeg also have their share of gang trouble and are beefing up police resources to deal with so-called gangbangers.

But an American-style law-order approach may not always be the best way to go, says a Toronto criminologist who would rather see the root causes of the violence addressed.

Almost 100 men in rival Indo-Canadian gangs in Vancouver have been murdered since 1994, often execution-style, over drug deals gone bad.

"Most of them have been killed by guns and most have been killed in public," said Vancouver police Insp. Kash Heed of the death toll in and around the city.

The problem among Indo-Canadian gangsters is multi-layered, steeped in cultural issues and fuelled by British Columbia's lucrative marijuana trade that is increasingly seeing the drug being trucked across the U.S. border.

Toronto's gang violence, often involving gun-wielding young black men, has escalated to the point that a coalition of African-Canadians recently called on Prime Minister Paul Martin to declare the issue a national crisis.

Of the more than 70 murders in the Toronto area so far this year, a large portion of them have involved gang members - as many as 30 in the black community and many others among Asian, Latino and Tamil gangs, said Tony Warr, Toronto's deputy police chief.

The brazen nature of the violence was highlighted recently when an 18-year-old black man was shot at church while attending the funeral of a teen killed by apparently gang-related gunfire.

Scot Wortley, a criminologist at the University of Toronto, said Toronto's black gangs have consolidated within the last few years into two major camps: the Bloods and the Crips, although they may not be derivatives of the founding American gangs.

"It's a very unique situation in Toronto with respect to black gangs because there is the American influence of the Bloods and the Crips but they've also kind of merged with the traditional Jamaican posses," Wortley said.

In Toronto, new crime-fighting tactics

Teen killed, six hurt in brazen Toronto shooting

B.C. minister speaks out on Indo-Canadian gangsters

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