Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Tamil gang boss deported to Sri Lanka from Canada

Michelle Shephard:

Jothiravi Sittampalam allegedly formed the AK Kannan gang, named after his street name (Kannan, or God) and the AK-47

The reputed leader of a Tamil gang whose battle with rival gang members on the streets of Toronto claimed the lives of more than a dozen youths in the late 1990s, and once led to a midday shooting on Highway 404, was deported late last night to Sri Lanka.

Kaileshan Thanabalasingham was one of the main targets of Project 1050, a joint police and immigration investigation that ended with the arrest of close to 51 alleged gang members on Oct. 18, 2001.

The majority of the accused were charged under a section of the immigration act that prohibits involvement in a criminal organization, marking the first time street gangs were classified as "organized crime" under immigration laws.

Known in Toronto's Tamil community as Kailesh, the 36-year-old father was accused of leading the VVT gang, a west Toronto group that was formed in the early 1990s and named for Valvettithurai, a northern Sri Lankan town.

Thanabalasingham denied he led the VVT, or that his criminal convictions — possessing a machete in 1996 and a 1998 conspiracy to commit assault for trying to acquire guns for others — were related to gang membership.

A January Immigration and Refugee Board decision that cleared the way for his removal classified both convictions as gang-related and also noted Thanabalasingham was known to visit incarcerated gang members.

"It's quite instructive that the appellant took it upon himself to attend court when gang members were charged with criminal offences, to assist in preparing their defence and then visit them in jail when incarcerated. He acted like a shepherd tending to his flock," wrote IRB appeal division member Egya Sangmuah in his Jan. 6 decision.

Thanabalasingham's lawyer, Barbara Jackman, had argued that as a Tamil, he would be targeted by the Sri Lankan government if returned home due to media reports that have linked the VVT to the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, or LTTE, a guerrilla group fighting the Singhalese government for independence.

Sangmuah dismissed claims that Thanabalasingham would face danger.

"The Minister (of Immigration) does not allege that the appellant or the VVT is connected to the LTTE," he wrote. "(E)ven if the appellant is wrongly perceived as a member of the LTTE, he will likely not face persecution."

Jackman said yesterday she believed her client was being punished unfairly since he had already been sentenced for his criminal activity.

"If someone commits a criminal offence, they go to trial, they get a sentence, they get punished for it. Are they ever allowed to overcome it? Yes. In Kailesh's case where his family's all here and he has a clean record since 1998, the board and the minister still think he should be effectively punished," she said.

Thanabalasingham came to Canada in July 1991 and was granted refugee status, then became a landed immigrant on Aug. 31, 1992. Police believe he became leader of the VVT in 1997, after the two former alleged leaders, Sri Ranjan Rasa and Niranjan Claude Fabian, were arrested (the men remain in Canada fighting their deportation).

VVT's primary target was rival AK Kannan, whose stronghold was in Scarborough. Police allege Jothiravi Sittampalam formed that group, naming it after his street name (Kannan, meaning God) and his love for the AK-47 assault weapon. Before his incarceration he had more than one attempt on his life including the incident in April 2001 when his car was surrounded on an off-ramp of Highway 404 and VVT members opened fire, only slightly injuring him.

One of the gangs' most high-profile crimes occurred in December 1997, when suspected VVT members shot at a doughnut shop that was a known AK Kannan hangout, killing Kapilan Palasanthiran, an innocent University of Waterloo student, and injuring two others.

During a series of retaliatory crimes, a gang member was seriously injured in 2000 after he was run over by a car, followed by an attack on occupants of a car idling at a Kennedy Rd. address in Scarborough. It was again a case of mistaken identity and two Tamil teenagers not connected to the gangs were killed.

"For three years the Tamil community was held hostage by two gangs vying for control in Toronto," said Det. Sgt. Greg Getty, head of Project 1050, in an interview yesterday before Thanabalasingham was escorted on a 10:40 p.m. flight out of Toronto.

"If he does get deported, it's a great day for the Tamil community."

Only 10 of the 51 alleged gang members arrested in 2001 have been deported. They include AK Kannan's reputed senior member, 33-year-old Panchalingam Nagalingam, who was deported in December. Panchan, as he was known in the community, was often referred to as an AK Kannan enforcer. Police sometimes called him "the cat" for his ability to cheat death.

Before his arrest in December 2000, bullets narrowly missed his baby son and girlfriend. Through the media, he told the shooters to leave his family alone and to deal with him instead. In March the next year, he was shot six times as he left the Mimico Detention Centre, where he was serving a sentence on weekends. When interviewed by the Star that summer Nagalingam said he had "no idea" why he was targeted.

Another senior member associated with the VVT was deported in January. Jeyaseelan Thuraisingam, known on the street as Seelapu, was deported after his final court appeal for protection was thrown out.

Sittampalam, the alleged 35-year-old leader of AK Kannan, remains in Canada awaiting a final federal court appeal. Unlike Thanabalasingham, who paid a $55,000 cash bond in January 2004, with a promise of $40,000 more if he violated bail conditions, Sittampalam has remained in custody since his 2001 arrest.

"These are largely permanent residents and people whom Canada has granted protection from persecution and the threshold for deportation is much higher," said Canadian Border and Security Agency spokesperson Anna Pape yesterday, explaining the time it takes for these cases to work their way through immigration and court appeals.

"Just because it's a lengthy process doesn't mean it's not worth pursuing. The real success of this project lies at the community level. It's meaningful to Canadians because our efforts are resulting in the dismantling of a network of organized criminals and resulting in a large reduction of local crime."

After the arrests four and a half years ago, many in Toronto's Tamil community said they breathed a sigh of relief and there was a noticeable dip in crime in Tamil neighbourhoods.

But lately some new youths are attempting to fill the void. Police sources say that while the violence has not reached the level it was in the 1990s, Tamil youth groups calling themselves names such as the MCF (Money Comes First), Bravehearts or TBT (True Brown Thugs), are starting to build up their ranks.

Toronto police raid Tamil gangs

Canada brought on its own woes


At 10:33 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

welldone Canada. The SriLankan goverment did not perish these criminals as did to the JVP in 1972 to see an end to terrorisom Canada made these 'Vanni shit' into sofisticated muderers with advanced weapons and dollers from other Tamils living there, who are funding the LTTE terror group in SriLanka.In real terms Canada should keep them all, as they were supporting these killers by allowing fund raising to buy arms for Tamil terriorism in SriLanka Is Canada now prepared to make Toronto a seperate Motheland for 250.000 tamils lving there Do you still think they are freedom fighters Can you see who these Tamils are with the violence you now have in Toronto. Good luck to Peace in Canada. . Australia

At 3:54 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The sad thing is, you practically gotta be a fucking "gang boss" to get your ass deported from Canada nowadays.

At 11:10 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

A lot of RCMP members got promotions using these gangs. In one incident, a member of the Toronto police unit planted weapons and then raided the place and got a lot of credit for it. The useless police force milked a lot out of these idiots. I am very glad these scums are out of Canada. The Tamil people have been calling the police to act as early as the early 90's. When a University of Waterloo student was killed, all the students of UW appealed to the police to get rid of these idiots. The police were busy using these gangs to get promotions. One of the most useless police force I have ever seen. Worse than third world countries. There should be an enquiry into this.

At 3:54 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The police are useless, these people don't deserve to be deported after the repuation police have given them by saying they are linked to the LTTE, can get them killed in Sri Lanka. If anything they should have been put in jail, but the stupid police just wants more media atention.

At 11:07 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well said people but all of you are full of shit. Just like any journalist and writers, all of you are linking some dude who probably in a teenage age got into trouble for doing things just like any white or black or you would do to some other crime that is going back in Sri Lanka.

Just because there is a problem in Sri Lanka that the damn mass media call it "Terrorism", you choose to connect someone who lived in Canada just like anybody else in this country to an organization and crap like that. Stop this kind of bull shit. Where did your daddy come from? If you do something wrong, should Canada deport you? If Canada does this to everyone, then it will be back to the original Indians who will be left to run the country. Speak with knowledge and don't abuse it with your assumptions.

At 9:10 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

god send all these dirty tamils back to sri lanka, i cant belive canada even lets them in! all these kids wanting to be gangsters and thugs, its so sad, get a life grow up, or is this what you want to be doing your whole life to look cool. fools. If they cant adopt to the Western style of life, business, making something of nothing, instead of the ghetto gospel they live by, or Tamil Tigers mentality, i say we shoot each of them individually in a line. Kind of like a Massacre of these dumb want to be thugs.

At 3:08 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's these third world scum who bring their baggage with them that turned Scarborough into the shithole it now is

At 2:48 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

MCF,TBT,BRAVEHEARTS...although police might not believe they do not hold the same position or ranks as AK and VVT did, the gangs are well organized and quiete fiered of on the streets. My brother was killed by the MCF gang because of money issues, the gang stands for "money comes first"! Cops really need to educate themselves and do something about these gangs. Just because the bosses were deported does not mean the whole situation is diminished

At 1:50 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

you even scared to publish your name and you are saying that " i say we shoot each of them individually in a line". If you see one of the gang member then you will shit in your pants :)

At 2:13 PM, Anonymous Algar said...

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At 9:50 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

tha world one of the worest people sri lankan tamils

At 1:30 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's amazing how all the comments left on this board are Sinhalese decent, either being bold and commenting as themselves or rather being cowards and pretending to be a concerned citizen. Tamils are not the issue its people like you who take the time out of your day to put down another race. The world is not stupid, the world let the ltte to die and you know what, instead of capturing their leaders, you killed them. Now can I ask you one question? who will pay for their war crimes? Its about time the SLA government was either over thrown or dissolved and punished for their human right violation.

At 11:51 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I laughed at most of these racist and stereotypical comments. Folks, I am Tamil, highly established professional in Canadian society, in my 20s, and probably contribute more to the Canadian economy than you or your families. I attended professional school in Canada, was top of my university classes here, and have won multiple awards and scholarships. Don't put down Tamil people so blindly. Who are the ones making it in the professional field nowadays in Canadian society? Asians, Tamils, Indians, Arabics, etc. Our parents came to Canada with nothing but the clothes on their backs, yes mental illness and gang violence was and is rampant among certain ethnic groups that come from such hardship, but to put down an entire race is frankly ignorant and unnecessary. Many Canadian Tamils have successful businesses, contribute to charity organizations, are doctors, lawyers, engineers, accountants, etc. Take a look at yourself and tell me what you are doing, what your kids are doing and what your families are doing.

There are bad apples in every community. Keep your ignorance off news websites where the literate go to stay informed and contribute to meaningful and deep discussions.

At 9:17 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Excellent response.


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