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RM Issue #030825

Tougher sentences needed to combat organized crime in Canada: report
Last Updated Fri, 22 Aug 2003 19:07:42

HALIFAX - Police officials said Friday that organized crime is thriving in Canada and the public and courts need to pay more attention to the proliferation of marijuana grow operations in the country.

Canada's 2003 annual report highlights the need for tougher sentences for people convicted of running large marijuana operations

Toronto police Chief Julian Fantino said the incredible amount of money to be made illegally escalates the level of violence and danger in neighbourhoods where grow operations exist.

Julian Fantino
Fantino said the courts have been treating the matter as almost a casual offence, in some cases handing out house arrest as a sentence.

He says people have to realize that organized crime reaches into everyone's pocket.

The report said Eastern European crime gangs operating in southern Ontario and Quebec are using more sophisticated technology to smuggle goods, in particular stolen luxury cars, through Canada's ports.

The report also warns that the Sicilian Mafia is strengthening its position at the top of the country's criminal hierarchy.

Antonio Nicaso, a Canadian journalist who's written 10 books on organized crime, said Canada has clamped down on a lot of illegal activity but court sentences need to be tougher.

Written by CBC News Online staff

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