Independent Soldiers

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Independent Soldiers
FoundedMid 2000s to present.
Founders:
Founding locationVancouver, British Columbia
Years activeMid 2000s - Present
TerritoryLower Mainland, Kelowna, British Columbia, and Calgary, Alberta
EthnicityVarious
Criminal activitiesDrug trafficking, money laundering, murder
Allies
Rivals

The Independent Soldiers, otherwise known as the IS, is a street gang in British Columbia, Canada that is engaged in organized crime.[1][2]

History[edit]

The Independent Soldiers are a gang, that was said to have been formed by a group of Indo-Canadians from South Vancouver and Metro Vancouver municipalities.[2] They had come together during the 1990s under the name "Sunset Boys".[3] The Sunset Boys were a group of mostly Indo-Canadians whose favorite meeting was the Sunset Community Centre and Sunset Park.[4] The gang were initially petty criminals, but started to work for the Punjabi Mafia in the 1990s as street level drug dealers.[5] As the group chose to assert its independence after the murder of Bindy Johal in 1998, the name Independent Soldiers was chosen as a way to emphasis their independence from the Punjabi Mafia.[5] Like most gangs in the Lower Mainland, the members of the Independent Soldiers came mostly from middle-class families, which was not the norm with the rest of Canada.[6] The colors of the Independent Soldiers are red and black.[7] Members of the gang wear red and black clothing in public together the initials I.S. stamped on their jackets and baseball hats.[7]

The first leader of the gang, Sukhvinder Dosanjh, was killed in an automobile accident in 2005.[7] His successor, Peter Adiwal, was shot and badly wounded in an attack by a member of the Red Scorpions gang in 2009 that left him a paraplegic.[7]

By the early 2000s, the favorite meeting place for the leaders of the Independent Soldiers were the Loft Six nightclub in Gastown.[8] On 16 August 2003, the Independent Soldiers in the Loft Six nightclub were involved in a shoot-out with the Hells Angles on the dance floor.[9] One witness recalled: "A fight broke out, and all of the sudden bullets started flying. We just ran. We were right in the line of fire. We couldn't see anybody; we didn't know who was shooting, and people began crawling over top of each other to get out of the way".[9] When the shoot-out was over, 3 people had been killed and 8 were wounded.[9]

After the Loft Six incident, many of the original members of the gang ended leaving the gang as it was felt to be too dangerous.[10] The new members who joined the gang were much willing to work for the Hells Angels and the journalist Jerry Langton wrote "...the Independent Soldiers steadily became less and less independent".[10] At the same time, the Independent Soldiers became more multi-ethnic with the influx of new members.[10] The Independent Soldiers were reduced down to being a puppet gang for the Hells Angels.[11] When a puppet gang for the Hells Angels in Prince George known as "the Crew" were broken up by police arrests, the Hells Angels had the Independent Soldiers establish a chapter in Prince George as the replacement puppet gang for "the Crew".[12] The Prince George chapter of the IS were made of mostly white or First Nations people.[12]

The Canadian scholar Mark Totten wrote the Independent Soldiers gang were typical of the gangs in the Lower Mainland which started out as an ethnocentric gang and became more diverse with the passage of time.[1] Totten wrote the Independent Soldiers were mostly a single-generational gang, were not especially territorial and did not have the elaborate rituals that other gangs had.[1] Totten wrote the Independent Soldiers were a mid-level gang in the Lower Mainland, and together with the Red Scorpions and the United Nations gangs are one of the largest gangs in the Vancouver area.[13] Totten noted the Independent Soldiers were an unstable gang with a "fluid" membership and frequent leadership changes.[7] The gang is organized in cells and primarily sells cocaine.[7]

By 2005, the IS were operating in British Columbia and Alberta, predominantly Kelowna and Calgary, respectively.[2][14][15] The IS was mainly made up of Indo-Canadians but over the years they became more multicultural and accepted other ethnicities. This built strength and helped make connections in other Canadian communities.

The Independent Soldiers activities may be social or criminal and members can be seen wearing their colors and logo with the initials IS on them.

Timeline of noteworthy events[edit]

  • December 2007 - In Prince George, the leader of the local chapter of the Independent Soldiers was arrested on suspicion of murder following a gang-related shooting in that city.[16]
  • January 2008 - In Surrey, in a gang-related shooting, four victims were members of, or had ties to, the Independent Soldiers.[17]
  • August 2011 - An Independent Soldier member in James Riach was in a vehicle with known Hells Angels and Red Scorpion gang members that had been targeted by rival gangs in a brazen, broad daylight shooting outside the Delta Grand Okanagan Resort hotel in Kelowna.[3][18]
  • 2013 to present - There have been multiple arrests and seizing of property by police of alleged IS members from the Okanagan region of BC and Alberta.

Books[edit]

  • Langton, Jerry (2013). The Notorious Bacon Brothers : inside gang warfare on Vancouver streets. Etobicoke, Ont.: J. Wiley and Sons Canada. ISBN 978-1118388679.
  • Totten, Mark (2012). Nasty, Brutish, and Short The Lives of Gang Members in Canada. Toronto: James Lorimer Publishers. ISBN 9781459400399.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c Totten 2012, p. 50.
  2. ^ a b c "Gangs in BC". Combined Forces Special Enforcement Unit of British Columbia. Retrieved 26 October 2019.
  3. ^ a b Schwarz, Daniel (19 August 2011). "Notorious gangs of British Columbia". CBC News Online. Retrieved 26 October 2019.
  4. ^ Langton 2013, p. 67.
  5. ^ a b Langton 2013, p. 68.
  6. ^ Totten 2012, p. 48.
  7. ^ a b c d e f Totten 2012, p. 67.
  8. ^ Langton 2013, p. 85.
  9. ^ a b c Langton 2013, p. 86.
  10. ^ a b c Langton 2013, p. 90.
  11. ^ Langton 2013, p. 96.
  12. ^ a b Langton 2013, p. 95-96.
  13. ^ Totten 2012, p. 29 & 65.
  14. ^ "Search warrant turns up organized crime". Bell Media Radio. 14 October 2006. Archived from the original on 2 May 2008. Retrieved 26 October 2019.
  15. ^ "SOLDIERS LINKED TO INDO GANGS". Kelowna Daily Courier. Canadian Foundation for Drug Policy. 17 October 2006. Retrieved 26 October 2019.
  16. ^ "Cash flies as rival gangs battle it out in B.C. mall". Prince George Citizen. 26 December 2007. Archived from the original on 29 January 2008.
  17. ^ Bolan, Kim (23 January 2008). "Man killed in apparent targeted shooting in Surrey". The Vancouver Sun. Internet Archive. Archived from the original on 24 January 2008. Retrieved 26 October 2019.
  18. ^ "RAW VIDEO: Surveillance footage of August 14, 2011, shooting at Kelowna's Delta Grand hotel". Global News Online. 1 May 2018. Retrieved 26 October 2019.