RM Issue #030825
Executive Summary: 2003 Annual Report on Organized Crime in Canada
Criminal Intelligence Service Canada - 2003
This report presents to the Canadian public a comprehensive overview of mandated organized crime groups and their activities along with information on specifically selected serious crime issues. The findings of this report are based upon information, intelligence and investigative reports from Canadian and international law enforcement agencies. In particular, Criminal Intelligence Service Canada (CISC) relies upon intelligence from its approximately 380 member partners across Canada.
CISC currently monitors the following five broad organized crime groups: Aboriginal-based, Asian-based, Eastern European-based, outlaw motorcycle gangs, and Traditional (Italian-based). Each of these broad crime groups actually consist of numerous individual criminal organizations that operate independently as well as interdependently in criminal ventures. In some instances, individual criminal organizations may have a historical stable working relationship with other crime groups. In addition, while conflicts do develop between crime groups over illicit market share, increasingly temporary alliances are created between crime groups to pool resources necessary for the success of specific criminal ventures.
Aboriginal-based gangs are present in a number of urban centres across Canada, particularly in Edmonton, Regina and Winnipeg, with a smaller presence in British Columbia, Ontario and Quebec. There is little presence of Aboriginal- based gangs in Atlantic Canada or the three northern territories. Aboriginal-based gangs are generally involved in street-level trafficking of marihuana, cocaine, crack cocaine and methamphetamine as well as other criminal activities. Aboriginal-based gangs support other organized crime groups, particularly the HELLS ANGELS and Asian-based organized crime groups, as well as associating with other Aboriginal-based gangs.
Asian-based organized crime (AOC) in Canada is highly mobile, culturally and linguistically diverse and largely composed of loosely-knit networks. AOC groups are entrenched in British Columbia, Alberta and Ontario, and are increasingly active in Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Quebec and Atlantic Canada. AOC groups continue to associate with other organized crime groups nationally and internationally, particularly in the United States and Southeast Asia. Asian- based criminal groups are entrepreneurial and are often involved in multiple criminal activities simultaneously. AOC groups remain involved in illicit drug importation, production and trafficking, credit/payment card fraud, illegal gaming, casino loansharking, prostitution and operating massage parlours, money laundering and migrant smuggling.
While Southern Ontario remains the traditional centre of Eastern European-based organized crime (EEOC) in Canada, its presence has been reported in most other provinces. EEOC groups participate in a broad spectrum of criminal activities but their particular hallmark is the ability to plan and carry out sophisticated frauds. Many EEOC groups are adept at disguising and insulating their illegitimate activities through legitimate business ventures. These legitimate enterprises could provide direct access to market sectors they consider to be vulnerable to criminal exploitation.
The most powerful Traditional (Italian-based) organized crime (TOC) groups continue to be based in Ontario and Quebec; however, TOC groups either directly or indirectly exploit criminal activities across the country. TOC continue to increase their wealth and influence through criminal activities, such as illicit drug importation/distribution, money laundering, and illegal gaming/bookmaking and their subsequent investment of illicit profits in legitimate businesses. Their highly stable nature, involvement in numerous criminal enterprises, investment in legitimate business with profits from crime, and their adaptability to enter into joint ventures and exploit new opportunities with other organized crime groups help to mask the level of threat they pose to Canada.
The HELLS ANGELS, OUTLAWS and BANDIDOS and are the three most influential outlaw motorcycle gangs (OMGs) in Canada and each have attracted significant police attention. The HELLS ANGELS is the most powerful with 34 chapters across the country, with a further 228 chapters worldwide and an international membership exceeding 3000. Successful law enforcement action within the last year has reduced the degree of criminal influence posed by OMGs in Central and Atlantic Canada. However, OMGs remain a serious criminal threat in Canada and continue to be involved in an array of criminal activities such as murder, drug trafficking, prostitution, illegal gambling, extortion, intimidation, fraud and theft.
All major organized crime groups have links to Canadaís marine ports, thus making the issue of organized crime at marine ports CISCís sixth national intelligence priority. The most significant criminal influences are from outlaw motorcycle gangs, Traditional (Italian-based) crime groups and local domestic crime groups. Organized crime groups utilize marine ports to facilitate the movement of contraband into Canada including illicit drugs, tobacco, alcohol, firearms and illegal migrants. As well, stolen vehicles are illegally exported in containers to consumers in Asia and Eastern Europe. The criminal presence within a marine port is often not apparent to the majority of port employees. It is not necessarily a pervasive presence and may be limited to a small number of individuals within key positions that are influential in the movement of commercial cargo off a vessel and within the port environment.
Each year, CISC monitors selected serious crime issues to evaluate their criminal threat to law enforcement in Canada. In this report, these selected issues include: contraband tobacco and alcohol, organized crime and the diamond industry, the illicit movement of firearms, technology and crime, the sexual exploitation of children and street gangs.
Over the last twenty years, tobacco and alcohol products have been subject to various levels of criminal exploitation. In some cases it is to supply a product not readily available in Canada, but primarily the illicit markets exist to avoid high levels of federal and provincial taxation. Currently, contraband tobacco and alcohol activity continues to occur across Canada to varying degrees.
Law enforcement is continuing to proactively monitor the diamond industry to safeguard against infiltration by organized crime. International law enforcement experience indicates that diamonds are an attractive commodity to organized crime because they are an easily portable and convertible form of wealth. Once diamonds are smuggled, they can be a means to launder money. Criminal activities identified by the international law enforcement community that are associated to the diamond industry include manipulating diamond valuations to distort the amount of taxes to be paid, trading illegal rough diamonds or embedding illicit diamonds into legitimate diamond markets.
All organized crime groups across Canada are involved in some way in the illicit movement and acquisition of firearms. While organized crime members may not be themselves directly involved in the initial acquisition of an illicit firearm, they are connected to that acquisition either as an instigator, a planner, a financier or most importantly, a customer. The illicit firearms market is primarily supplied by two major sources: firearms stolen in Canada from either a business or a private residence; or firearms smuggled from the United States.
Technologies that provide benefits to society also provide opportunities for organized crime. Emerging technology offers new potential mediums to commit old crimes such as money laundering and fraud. As technologies for conducting on-line commercial transactions evolve, so do opportunities for fraud. Identity theft and payment card fraud are among the most frequently occurring types of fraud in Canada. Asian- based and Eastern European-based organized crime groups are extensively involved in elaborate, large-scale payment card fraud schemes as well as other fraud-related criminal activity throughout the country.
Technological advances, such as the Internet, have increased the opportunities of some individuals in the sexual exploitation of children. The Internet has facilitated the formation of international groups of child pornography collectors that share child pornography images. The Internet has also facilitated the on-line enticement, or luring, of children enabling an abuser to seek out victims through chat rooms and other electronic fora.
Historically street gangs were concentrated in Vancouver, Toronto and Montreal but increasingly they are also present in smaller cities, rural areas and on Aboriginal reserves. Many street gangs are unstructured groups and are involved in low- level criminal activities such as assaults, shoplifting and bullying. However, a number of street gangs are becoming more structured and involved in higher levels of criminality such as drug trafficking and running prostitution networks. The consistent and pervasive use of violence appears as a common characteristic with all street gangs.
In conclusion, Criminal Intelligence Service Canada is committed to providing the Canadian public and the law enforcement community with a comprehensive and strategic overview of organized crime and serious crime issues affecting Canada. CISC will continue to enhance partnerships within the Canadian law enforcement community to encourage the sharing of information and intelligence. It is through this cooperative and interactive strategic approach that the Canadian law enforcement community can best comprehend and combat organized crime threats affecting Canada.