Gangs in Canada
Gangs in Canada are mostly present in the major urban areas of Canada, although their activities are not confined to large cities.
Currently in Canada, steps are being taken to ensure public safety related to gangs. To be specific, the Brampton-Springfield MP, Parm Gill, is in the process of having his private members bill, Bill C-394, pass all steps before becoming a law. Bill C-394 will make gang recruitment a federal crime, and committing the crime can result in years in prison.
The most prevalent gangs in Canada include:
- Street gangs
- Outlaw Motorcycle Gangs
- Mafias and Organized crime groups, including Aboriginal Based Organized Crime, Indo-Canadian organized crime, and Asian organized crime
- Drug cartels
According to a 2004 police report, "The Hells Angels remain some of the largest and most powerful motorcycle gangs in the country, with growing influence in British Columbia and Ontario. Its presence has declined in other provinces due to police efforts, internal conflict and increased competition from other crime groups."
The same report stated that Aboriginal street gangs are not as highly organized as other criminal organizations in Canada, but are amongst the most violent. Aboriginal people also constitute a significant portion of prison populations throughout Canada, and the number of First Nation inmates continues to rise at a considerable rate. As of 2005 it is believed over 1000 Aboriginal youths were members of street gangs.
According to the Criminal Intelligence Service Canada (CISC), "The established, well-financed and -connected Hong Kong Triad groups and crime syndicates remain, to our mind, the biggest long-term threat to Canadian law enforcement and society."
Known crime groups in Calgary include Aboriginal street gangs, Aryan Nation groups, East Asian street gangs, Vietnamese gangs, Indo-Canadian street gangs, Afro-Caribbean street gangs, multicultural street gangs, and outlaw motorcycle gangs.
Known crime groups in Edmonton include Aboriginal street gangs, Aryan Nation groups, East Asian street gangs, Vietnamese gangs, Hispanic street gangs, Afro-Caribbean street gangs, Crips, multicultural street gangs and outlaw motorcycle gangs.
Biker gangs have, at various points, played a major role in Halifax's crime scene, particularly during the 1980s and 1990s. However, a crackdown on biker gang activity throughout Eastern Canada, in the wake of the Quebec Biker War, has greatly reduced the number of associates and virtually wiped out full-patch memberships within the province. Most non-biker gangs are composed of extended families or of close associates, providing little scope for recruitment or promotion from outside. The notorious Bloods and Crips have been a big part of Halifax's gang problem as well. These gangs are mostly found in the cities high number of housing projects, including Uniacke Square and Mulgrave Park.
Hamilton has become more active in gang activity such as murdering, drug trafficking over the past few years there are many street level gangs, and organized crime families. Once home to organized crime figure Rocco Perri Canada's Al Capone, and Johnny Pops Papilia. Much of the gang activity is within the inner city, mostly within the downtown and east end, and mainly attributed to smaller street gangs. Areas affected by gang activity include: Grandville, the North End, Oriole Crescent neighborhoods, and much of the downtown sector.
Biker gangs operate from clubhouses based in Montreal. Over the years numerous members have been arrested, firearms and homicide charges. Between 1994 and 2002 a biker war between gangs led to a period of increased violence which would become known as the Quebec Biker war. Traditional organized crime has had a presence in the city since the early 1900s, mainly in the form of the Irish mob and the Italian mafia.
Gangs in Montreal are mostly Caucasian but there are minority gangs which are mostly Afro-Caribbean.
United smaller street gangs made up of mostly youths are pocketed in different areas of the Montreal area, particularly in Montréal-Nord, Sud-Ouest, St-Michel, Parc-Extension, West Island, St-François, Côte-des-Neiges, NDG, Ville St-Laurent (St-Low), Rivière-des-Prairies and St-Léonard neighbourhoods.
The city's largest street gangs in 2006 were:
- the Crips located in Saint-Michel, Pierrefonds, Villeray, Ahuntsic, Parc-Extension, Lasalle, Lachine, NDG, Little Burgundy, and Côte-des-Neiges.
- the Bloods located in Côte-des-Neiges, Montréal-Nord, Rivière-des-Prairies, Laval, St-Léonard, and Ville St-Laurent (St-Lo 64).
Despite the National Capital Region being patrolled by five police forces (Ottawa Police, Ontario Provincial Police (OPP), Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP), Gatineau Police, Quebec Provincial Police (QPP)), the city of Ottawa is still home to a number of gangs, ranging from minor neighbourhood street gangs, to well organized crime families. Most street level gangs in Ottawa are located in the city's south side and the west end between the Debra area, and Lincoln Heights. The two most prominent street gangs in Ottawa are the "Bloods" and "Crips". Ottawa is also home to the biker gangs, Italian Mafia, however, major police operations resulted in the arrest of the groups hierarchy. To a lesser extent, there is also a presence of Asian, Black, and Hispanic gangs in the city. There is also a rising tide of Caucasian gangs in the city.
Gang activity in Ottawa spiked in the 1990s with many high profile brazen crimes including a daytime jewelry store robbery/shoot out in the Rideau Centre, a busy downtown shopping mall, and a random drive-by shooting murder of a British student on a busy downtown street. Today drive by shootings are rare and most gang activity includes narcotic distribution.
Adult gangs in Saskatchewan are almost entirely aboriginal based. The largest gang activity is in Regina and Saskatoon. There is also a branch of the Hells Angels in the province. Youth gangs are also almost entirely aboriginal based. Saskatchewan had the highest concentration of gang membership in Canada at 1.34 per 1000 in 2002 The website insideprisons.com lists 108 street gangs for the Prairie region.
Certain neighbourhoods in all geographic parts of Toronto have experienced gang activity. Many gangs have migrated out of the city limits into the suburbs such as Mississauga, Brampton, Markham, Vaughan, Scarborough, Pickering and limited amounts in Richmond Hill, Ontario. This has been attributed to the Toronto Police Services being alerted to their activities and cracking down with arrests. Toronto Police Services work in conjunction with other Toronto area police services such as Peel Regional Police, Halton Regional Police, York Regional Police, Durham Regional Police and Hamilton Police. Police raids in the early to mid 2000s took down many gang members resulting in some being deported back to Jamaica, Trinidad, Liberia, Sri Lanka, Colombia, Portugal, Somalia and others.
Toronto has a strong Italian Mafia presence, most notably in Woodbridge and the St. Clair area of downtown. Gangs in Toronto are mostly Afro-Caribbean, Asian (East/Southeast/South), and Middle Eastern. There are also a few Latin gangs from the United States that operate in Toronto.
There has been a recent rise in gun violence in the downtown core of the greater Toronto area. The two most focal incidents were the Boxing Day shooting, which was a shootout between rival gangs resulting in the death of 15-year-old bystander Jane Creba on December 26, 2005 on Yonge Street, and the shooting that took place at Toronto Eaton Centre food court on Saturday June 2, 2012. The shooting left 25 year old Ahmed Hassan and 22 year old Nixon Nirmalendran dead while 7 others, including a 13 year old boy struck in the head, had critical to minor injuries. Hassan was considered to be the targeted victim and is considered to be gang-affiliated while others were considered innocent bystanders in the event.
There were several high profile gang raids in the city namely in Malvern, Jane and Finch, Driftwood, Falstaff, Galloway,400 and the largest dismantling, in Rexdale. American gangs such as Crips and Bloods have been part of Toronto's gang scene since the early 1990s specifically in the West End neighbourhoods of Jane and Finch, Rexdale and Lawrence Heights (aka the jungle), Weston Road, Jane St.and Eglinton ave West. As well the East End neighbourhoods of Thorncliffe Park, Flemingdon Park, Malvern, Galloway,400 and others.
Known crime groups in Vancouver include Indo-Canadian street gangs, Aboriginal street gangs, motorcycle gangs, Iranian gangs, Hispanic street gangs, Vietnamese gangs, East Asian street gangs and "multicultural" street gangs.
Vancouver has a growing Italian mafia presence, and various Eastern European bratvas are also known to be active in the Lower Mainland.
According to law enforcement agencies, the most powerful of these crime groups in Vancouver, are the motorcycle gangs, Indo-Canadian street gangs, and East Asian street gangs. However, in recent years, "multicultural" street gangs have grown significantly in power and prominence, and have attained much media attention due to their involvement in numerous shootings and slayings throughout the city. including the 2009 Vancouver gang war.
Winnipeg's gang activity involves mainly Native Canadian gangs. Throughout the 1990s, the city was and still is the gang capital of Canada per capita.
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Book: William O'Grady, Crime in Canadian Context, 2nd Ed (Canada: Oxford University Press, 2011) > Chicago/Turabian Citation