Gangs in Canada

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Gangs in Canada are mostly present in the major urban areas of Canada, although their activities are not confined to large cities.


The most prevalent gangs in Canada include:

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."[1][2]

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.[3] As of 2005 it is believed over 1000 Aboriginal youths were members of street gangs.[4]

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."[5]

In addition to Triad Societies, other Asian criminal groups, such as The Big Circle Gang, have also established national networks based in the major cities of Canada.[6][7]

By city[edit]


Known crime groups in Abbotsford involve Punjabi street gangs, various East Asian crime groups, motorcycle gangs, and multicultural street gangs.

However, there has been a gang conflict in the city mostly in West end part of the city in the Townhill Area. The gang conflict is between two South Asian gangs which involves 40 men in total between the ages of 15 to 25.[8]

According to the Abbotsford Youth Crime Prevention Project has assessed groups of people deemed to be most vulnerable to becoming part of a gang in the city.[9]


Major crime groups in Calgary include Aboriginal street, East Asian (Filipino/Chinese/Vietnamese) street gangs, Middle Eastern/Lebanese organized crime gangs,[10] Punjabi street gangs [11] and Black street gangs, among others are biker gangs, Mexican drug cartels, Somali/Sudanese drug trafficking groups, Afghan Street Gangs and Pakistani (Kashmiri and Pashtun) street gangs.[12][13]

Between 2002-2009 there was a bloody gang war between two rival East Asian gangs the FK and FOB gangs which resulted in 25 gang related murders. Not only East Asians were involved but there were also White, (East) Indian, and in some cases Black gang members part of these gangs.[14][15] Disputes over the illegal distribution of fentanyl have broken out within the Middle Eastern community (with some being Lebanese).[16] Similar to the Asian street gangs of the early 2000s, these are not therefore from exclusively one ethnicity.[17]


Major crime groups in Edmonton have been identified as most being Aboriginal, Black (Central African/Jamaican), Middle Eastern (Somali/Persian/Lebanese), East Asian (Chinese/Vietnamese/Filipino) and Central/Eastern European across a similar broad social spectrum. With other crime groups involved in Edmonton as well such as Hispanic gangs, biker gangs, Aryan Nation groups, and Punjabi street gangs.[18]

However recently the arrival of Mexican drug traffickers, along with increased activity by outlaw motorcycle gangs, is changing the face of organized crime in Alberta especially in the major cities of Edmonton along with Calgary.[19]


Biker gangs have, at various points, played a major role in Halifax's crime scene, particularly during the 1980s and 1990s.[20] However, there has been a crackdown on biker gang activity throughout Eastern Canada, in the wake of the Quebec Biker War.[21] Most biker gangs are composed of extended families or of close associates, providing little scope for recruitment or promotion from outside. The well-known Bloods and Crips have been part of Halifax's gang environment as well.[21]


The area in and around Hamilton was once home to organized crime figure Rocco Perri, so-called Canada's Al Capone, and Johnny Pops Papalia.[22] Murders of traditional mobsters in 2017 and 2018 indicate that the group is still active. After the September 2018 killing of real estate agent Al Iavarone, police sources told the Toronto Star that the hit was in retaliation for previous actions against the Musitano crime family as part of a "dispute between two Niagara Region groups of mobsters who are both tied to the New York State [Buffalo] mob.[23] A news report stated that "there has been a resurgence of mafia-related crime in the greater Toronto and Hamilton areas in the last couple of years, leading police to believe there may be a 'power struggle'".[24] On 30 January 2019, Cece Luppino, son of Rocco Luppino of the Luppino crime family, was killed in front of his parents' Hamilton home.[25][26]


Gangs in Montreal are mostly Caucasian (most Italian, French, Irish and Russian) but there are minority gangs which are mostly of Jamaican, Haitian, Hispanic, Lebanese, Asian, Sri Lankan, or Cambodian descent.[27] United smaller street gangs made up of mostly youths are pocketed in different areas of the Montreal area, particularly in Montréal-Nord,[28] St-Michel, Parc-Extension, Ville Saint-Laurent(St-Low), Côte-des-Neiges, NDG, Rivière-des-Prairies, Saint-Francois, Laval and St-Léonard neighbourhoods.


Major crime groups in Ottawa involve White/Irish gangs, Biker gangs, Arab street gangs, and East Asian crime groups. Many other crime groups also exist mainly Lebanese and Somali. In Ottawa, by the early twentieth-century, drive by shootings were rare and most gang activity involved narcotic distribution.[29][30]


Adult gangs in Saskatchewan are almost entirely aboriginal based.[31][32] 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[31] There are possibly 108 street gangs for the Prairie region.[4][unreliable source?]

Greater Toronto Area[edit]

Certain neighbourhoods in Toronto have experienced gang and organized crime activity[33] including human trafficking,[34] firearm trafficking, drug trafficking, robbery,[35] and Mafia/mob activity.[36]

A police survey found that most youth gangs in Ontario and the GTA are ethnically African/Caribbean (Somali/Jamaican/Haitian/Guyanese), Caucasian (Italian/Russian/Portuguese/Albanian/Polish/Greek/Spanish), and South Asian (Indian/Punjabi/Pakistani/Afghan/Tamil).[37] There are also a number of Asian (Filipino/Chinese-Tibetan/Vietnamese/Cambodian/Korean) and Latino gangs in the area. Other minor groups are Biker gangs, Supremacist groups, and Mexican drug cartels, Central asian (Persian) gangs and Aboriginal street gangs.

Although Toronto's murder rate remains low, there has been a recent rise in gun violence in the downtown core of the greater Toronto area.[38] The two most focal incidents were the Boxing Day shooting, a shootout between rival gangs that resulted in the death of 15-year-old bystander Jane Creba on December 26, 2005 on Yonge Street, and a mall food court shooting at the Eaton Centre on June 2, 2012, which left two dead and injured seven others, including a 13-year-old boy. Hassan was considered to be the targeted victim and is considered to be gang-affiliated[39] while others were considered innocent bystanders.

In June 2015, RCMP led police raids across the Greater Toronto Area, named Project OPhoenix, which resulted in the arrest of 19 men, allegedly affiliated with the 'Ndrangheta.[40] Testimony during the trial revealed that the crime group was still very active as recently as 2015, with activities in mortgage and bank fraud as well as cocaine trafficking.[41][41]

Giuseppe (Pino) Ursino and Romanian-born Cosmin (Chris) Dracea of Toronto faced two counts of cocaine trafficking for the benefit of a criminal organization and one charge of conspiracy to commit an indictable offence.[42] The 2018 trial in Ontario Superior Court in Toronto was the first in Canada to target the 'Ndrangheta as an organized crime group since the Criminal Code was amended in 1997 to include the concept of a criminal organization.[43] Granted, neither of the defendants admitted to having been part of that organization.[44][45] Both were convicted of conspiracy to smuggle drugs.[46] At the sentencing, the presiding judge had made this comment: "Based on the evidence at trial, Giuseppe Ursino is a high-ranking member of the 'Ndrangheta who orchestrated criminal conduct and then stepped back to lessen his potential implication" ... Cosmin Dracea knew he was dealing with members of a criminal organization when he conspired to import cocaine".[47]

After the Ursino/Dracea trial, Tom Andreopoulos, deputy chief federal prosecutor, offered this comment about the organization:[48]

"We’re talking about structured organized crime. We’re talking about a political entity, almost; a culture of crime that colonizes across the sea from Italy to Canada. This is one of the most sophisticated criminal organizations in the world."

In June 2018, Cosimo Ernesto Commisso, of Woodbridge, Ontario and an unrelated woman were shot and killed. According to sources contacted by the Toronto Star, "Commisso was related to Cosimo "The Quail" Commisso of Siderno, Italy, who has had relations in Ontario, is considered by police to be a "'Ndrangheta organized crime boss" of the Siderno Group.[49] On 16 August 2019, Paolo Caputo of Richmond Hill was shot and killed at his restaurant in Toronto. According to the Toronto Star, police sources said that Caputo was a longtime associate of Montreal mob leader Vito Rizzuto who died in 2013.[50]

During the investigation of the apparent mob hit of Albert Iavarone in September 2018, a Police investigator made this comment about organized crime. "If you look back over the last couple years there has been a number of murders, a number of bombings, a number of arsons throughout the GTA and up to as far as Montreal. It is our belief that there is something going on in the underworld. We are not sure if this particular case factors into that but is something we are alive to".[51]


Known crime groups in Brampton include mainly South Asian and Black gangs but there are a few White, Portuguese, and Filipino gangs in the city. Members in Springdale Punjabi Gang 75% were Punjabi, 20% Pakistani, 5% Tamil. Most areas are claimed by the Punjabi gangs.[52]


There are dozens of tribes of gangs in Scarborough, but the most common ones that are seen are the Afghan street gangs, Tamil street gangs, Chinese street gangs, West Indian (Caribbean) street gangs and (Kashmiri) Pakistani gangs.[53]

Metro Vancouver[edit]

According to law enforcement agencies, the most significant crime groups in Vancouver are the motorcycle gangs (such as the Hells Angels), East Asian street gangs (mostly Vietnamese drug gangs/Asian-Chinese Triads), and Punjabi street gangs, although others exist (mainly Eastern European, Persian, or Italian Based groups) Other minor crime groups quite often Mexican drug cartels, and Aboriginal street gangs are also seen in the metro area.[54][2] 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,[55][56][57] including the 2009 Vancouver gang war.

According to the Combined Forces Special Enforcement Unit of British Columbia the ethnicities of people who died from a total of 160 gang related deaths in British Columbia between January 2006 to March 2014 were:[58]

▸ Caucasian/White (74 victims; 46.3%)

▸ South Asian (predominantly Punjabis) (34 victims; 21.3%)

▸ East Asian (most Chinese or Vietnamese) (33 victims; 20.6%)

▸ Central Asian (mostly Persian) (10 victims; 6.3%)

▸ First Nations (6 victims; 3.8%)

▸ Hispanic (3 victims; 1.9%)

▸ African/Caribbean (0 victims; 0%)


Major crime groups in the city are the South Asian (predominantly Punjabi) street gangs, East Asian (mainly Vietnamese) street gangs, biker gangs. Gangs have operated in Surrey, leading to an increase in the murder rate, although this almost ceased; the police claimed this was because the perpetrators had left the country.[59] Most gangs within the city today battle out in Surrey's Newton community, predominantly but inexclusively amongst the South Asian community.[60]


Criminal gangs in Burnaby are composed of elements of most ethnic groupings within Vancouver.[61]


Winnipeg's gang activity consists heavily of Aboriginal criminals, with a smaller number of other ethnic groups namely European, East Asian (Filipino/Vietnamese) and African gangs; it has been described as the Aboriginal gang capital of Canada.[62]

See also[edit]


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  2. ^ a b "Asian gangs pose major threat, police report says". CBC News. 2004-08-20. Archived from the original on May 17, 2009. Cite uses deprecated parameter |deadurl= (help)
  3. ^ "Number of Aboriginal People in Canada's Prisons Growing" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on May 2, 2009. Retrieved July 6, 2009. Cite uses deprecated parameter |deadurl= (help)
  4. ^ a b, May 2006. "Prison Gangs in Canada". Inside Prison. Retrieved 2011-06-06.
  5. ^ Lavigne, Yves. Teeth of the Dragon. Death Dealers: p. 104; 1999.
  6. ^ Chung, Alex (2008). "The big circle boys: Revisiting the case of the flaming eagles". Global Crime. 9 (4): 306–331. doi:10.1080/17440570802543540.
  7. ^ Wang, Peng (2011). "Vicious circles - Gang legacy of the Cultural Revolution". Jane's Intelligence Review. 23 (8): 46–49.
  8. ^ "THE TOWNLINE HILL CONFLICT: Guns, gangs, grudges - Abbotsford News". Retrieved 2016-09-28.
  9. ^ "Abbotsford Youth Crime Prevention Project".
  10. ^ "'We'll catch up to you,' police say as 8 men charged in Calgary's gang-war shootings". Retrieved 2016-09-28.
  11. ^ Gilligan, Melissa. "7 people charged in Calgary guns and gangs investigation". Retrieved 2016-09-28.
  12. ^ "Funeral ends in gunfire near Calgary, four injured, no arrests made | Metro News". Retrieved 2016-09-28.
  13. ^ Southwick, Reid. "Programs help immigrant youth embrace culture, avoid path to crime". Retrieved 2016-09-28.
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  15. ^ "Eight Years of Bloodshed".
  16. ^ "Fentanyl trafficking behind recent drug violence, say Calgary police". 2015-12-16. Retrieved 2016-09-28.
  17. ^ "'Off the hook' violence and family connections define Calgary's all-out gang war". Retrieved 2016-09-28.
  18. ^ Mark Totten (2012). Nasty, Brutish, and Short: The lives of gang members in Canada. James Lorimer Limited, Publishers. p. 69. ISBN 978-1-4594-0039-9.
  19. ^ "Biker gangs and Mexican drug traffickers the new face of organized crime in Alberta: RCMP commander". Retrieved 2016-09-28.
  20. ^ Julian Sher; William Marsden (2010). The Road to Hell: How the Biker Gangs are Conquering Canada. Knopf Canada. p. 115. ISBN 978-0-307-36586-6.
  21. ^ a b Mark Totten (2012). Nasty, Brutish, and Short: The lives of gang members in Canada. James Lorimer Limited, Publishers. p. 75. ISBN 978-1-4594-0039-9.
  22. ^ Jerry Langton (2010). Showdown: How the Outlaws, Hells Angels and Cops Fought for Control of the Streets. John Wiley & Sons. p. 37. ISBN 978-0-470-67878-7.
  23. ^ "Buffalo mob playing role in deadly Ontario dispute, sources say". Toronto Star. 17 September 2018.
  24. ^ "Family of murder victim Albert Iavarone asks to be 'left in peace'". Hamilton Spectator. 18 September 2018.
  25. ^ "'Too many headaches' and not enough cash: Hamilton murder victim had turned down offer to join Mafia". 31 January 2019.
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  28. ^ Vincent Larouche (2009). "2008 Montréal-Nord sur le qui-vive (in French only)". Info + Journal de Montréal. Retrieved 2009-05-17.
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  30. ^ "Not guilty verdict in drive-by shooting | Ottawa & Region | News". Ottawa Sun. Retrieved 2011-06-06.
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  32. ^ "Native Syndicate". 2007-01-21. Archived from the original on January 12, 2008. Retrieved 2008-01-21. Cite uses deprecated parameter |deadurl= (help)
  33. ^ "Interactive: City of Toronto homicides and gang activity, 2008 to present". The Globe and Mail.
  34. ^ "Toronto gang targeted in country-wide human trafficking probe by police". 22 April 2015.
  35. ^ Katrina Clarke (28 May 2014). "Members of 'ruthless' rival gangs — Sick Thugz and Asian Assassins — arrested in guns and drugs raids – National Post". National Post.
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  38. ^ "Canadian cities largely safe but rising gun violence 'disturbing'". 18 July 2012.
  39. ^ Megan O'Toole (3 June 2012). "Toronto Eaton Centre gun slaying victim may have had gang connections, police suggest". National Post.
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  41. ^ a b Peter Edwards (10 April 2018). "Ex-mobster tells court $2.4M he was paid for working as police agent 'isn't half of what I gave up'". Toronto Star.
  42. ^ "'I was starting to lose my mind,' former mobster tells cocaine trafficking trial". 28 March 2018.
  43. ^ "Toronto judge sentences 'Ndrangheta crime boss to 11 ½ years for cocaine conspiracy". Toronto Star.
  44. ^ Crown calling for lengthy prison sentences in GTA Mafia drug-importing trial, Toronto Star, 9 January 2019
  45. ^ No excuses 'besides being stupid,' drug smuggler in landmark Mafia trial tells judge at sentencing hearing, The National Post, 9 January 2019
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  57. ^ "Who are The Red Scorpions?". Archived from the original on 2008-05-31. Retrieved 2008-05-30. Cite uses deprecated parameter |deadurl= (help)
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  59. ^
  60. ^ "Surrey shootings: How many times can history repeat itself?". Retrieved 2016-09-28.
  61. ^ Todd, Douglas. "East Burnaby is Metro Vancouver's most multi-ethnic 'hood". Retrieved 2016-09-28.
  62. ^ Heather A. Howard; Craig Proulx (2011). Aboriginal Peoples in Canadian Cities: Transformations and Continuities. Wilfrid Laurier Univ. Press. p. 178. ISBN 978-1-55458-314-0.

Further reading[edit]

  • William O'Grady (2011). Crime in Canadian Context: Debates and Controversies. Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-543378-4.

External links[edit]