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Cablegate: Organized Crime in Bc Is On the Rise and Law Enforcement Is

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 03 VANCOUVER 001470

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE

DEPT FOR WHA/CAN; INR; INL

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: KJUS SNAR SOCI
SUBJECT: ORGANIZED CRIME IN BC IS ON THE RISE AND LAW ENFORCEMENT IS
STRUGGLING TO KEEP UP

1. (SBU) SUMMARY: The number of organized crime groups in BC
has more than doubled in the past two years, severely
challenging BC law enforcement and the judiciary. Almost every
global ethnic crime group known to law enforcement now has a
base in Vancouver. Outlaw Motorcycle Gangs (OMG), or Hells
Angels, are the most dangerous crime groups in BC and sit at the
top of the hierarchy for marijuana smuggled into the U.S. and
for cocaine smuggled from the U.S. into Canada. Asian-based
organizations are involved in drug and human trafficking.
Indo-Canadian gangs often export marijuana to the U.S. and
engage in violent struggles that have claimed more than ten
lives just this year. East-European groups commit sophisticated
financial crimes like credit card fraud. However, most of the
province's criminal organizations operate independently of the
major criminal enterprises such as the Hell's Angels, thus
avoiding police attention by remaining autonomous of the more
notorious groups. The scope of organized crime in B.C. is so
large that law enforcement is incapable of monitoring the vast
majority of groups, and conditions in the province continue to
invite criminal organizations to take part in the lucrative
market. End Summary

The Most Notorious Groups

2. (SBU) As of June, there were 108 organized crime groups known
to be operating in B.C., more than double 2003 numbers. The
following is a summary, obtained from media, contacts, and a
June Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) report, of the five
main organized crime categories in the province-Outlaw
Motorcycle Gangs (OMG), Asian-based Organized Crime,
Indo-Canadian Organized Crime, East-European Organized Crime,
and Independent Organized Crime.

Outlaw Motorcycle Gangs

3. (SBU) The RCMP considers the Hells Angels and their OMG
associates the most dangerous criminal group in this province.
The Hells Angels control the cocaine trade, organized
extortions, and much of the sex trade. They are also heavily
involved in producing and exporting marijuana. Hells Angels
often use violent means, such as homicides, violent assaults,
extortions, and debt-collections, to carry out their business.
Canadian law enforcement has succeeded in charging or convicting
45 members and associates of that club in the past year. Until
recently, though, BC law enforcement had not been able to find
substantial evidence to prosecute Hells Angels because they tend
to remain in the background; they direct other individuals or
groups to carry out the crimes for them, making it much more
difficult for law enforcement to tie these crimes to the Hells
Angels.

4. (SBU) Consulate staff contacted the RCMP's Combined Forces
Special Enforcement Unit. An official explained that Hells
Angels play a leading role in cross-border cocaine and marijuana
trafficking. He said marijuana export groups are organized
hierarchically, with one or two club members supervising a group
of non-club members who finance and plan the drug's growth and
exportation. These non-club members, who may not know who is
above them in the hierarchy, are aligned with smuggling groups
that send marijuana to the U.S. and take cocaine back to Canada.
Hells Angels club members rarely step foot inside a grow-op or
handle the marijuana; they operate in a similar fashion in the
cocaine trade.

5. (SBU) Two years ago agencies across B.C. stepped up their
efforts to work together on tackling organized crime. The RCMP,
Combined Forces Special Enforcement Unit, and most municipal
forces in the Lower Mainland and Greater Victoria areas teamed
up with entities such as the Liquor Control and Licensing Board
and the Canadian Customs and Revenue Agency, leading to the
recent crack-down on Hells Angels. The Combined Forces Special
Enforcement Unit believes the recent crackdown will cause the
organization to draw back and refrain from normal business;
those who remain active will probably only associate with club
members and a few trusted associates until they feel safe again.
Others believe, however, that the recent law enforcement
success has not stopped the club from expanding and that there
are always more people waiting to join the club than are
arrested. Additionally, imprisoned leaders maintain
considerable influence. The RCMP believes that, despite this
fact, there are probably enough officials engaged in
investigations to sustain the multi-agency effort.

Asian-based Organized Crime

6. (SBU) Asian-based Organized Crime (AOC) includes domestic and
internationally-based organizations that use B.C.'s position as
North America's gateway to Asia to their advantage. AOC
organizations in B.C. control the sex trade and extortion within
the Asian community and are involved in drug importation,
marijuana production, violent and financial crimes, and
counterfeiting. Vietnamese groups are particularly successful
marijuana-growers. Chinese organizations dominate the heroin
trade. Much of B.C.'s methamphetamine is produced and
distributed by AOC organizations. US Immigration and Customs
Enforcement (ICE) reports that AOC groups are behind most human
trafficking in B.C., particularly Korean women trafficked to
Canada and often transported to the U.S. ICE, in partnership
with the Canadian Border Services Agency's immigration and
intelligence sections and RCMP border integrity, have identified
some of the main players in the human trafficking industry and
say that various trafficking groups in the U.S. and Canada
associate together, not in a hierarchical structure, but as
different enterprises trading for financial gain.

7. (SBU) Consulate staff met with an official of the Vancouver
Police Department, who expounded on Asian crime practices,
saying the groups vary among ethnic lines, use cultural tenets
to their advantage, and are always changing. For instance, once
law enforcement believe they know how a group operates, that
group changes "like a chameleon." Unlike the mafia, AOC is not
centered on a hierarchical structure. Criminal enterprises form
to carry out a specific conspiracy, then dissolve once the job
is finished. Asian criminal enterprises work together solely to
earn money, they rarely focus on a single commodity, and their
group structure allows one leader to preside over a network of
various crimes.

Indo-Canadian Organized Crime

8. (SBU) Indo-Canadian Organized Crime (ICOC) draws from the
Lower Mainland's South Asian community and is associated with
street level drug trafficking, exporting marijuana (particularly
to the U.S.), and violent murders which have claimed almost 90
lives in the past 15 years and more than 10 in the past year in
the Lower Mainland. The Vancouver Sun reports that many of
those killed in Indo-Canadian struggles are gang leaders or
members. ICOC is an increasingly dangerous lifestyle; however,
many young Indo-Canadian males, despite the dangers associated
with it, are drawn into the "fast life" with its promises of
fast money, cars, and possessions.

East-European Organized Crime

9. (SBU) East-European Organized Crime (EEOC) groups in B.C. are
lower-profile, but not less damaging, than the others. They
typically engage in sophisticated, high-value financial crimes,
such as identity theft, card fraud, money laundering, and
immigration-related crimes. A VPD officer informed Consulate
staff that, unlike traditional organized crime groups with names
and hierarchical structures, EEOC groups form when experts in
various areas come together to pull off a crime, following which
the groups are disbanded and members disperse to join schemes
elsewhere. Like AOC, EEOC is a global society that changes
faces so frequently that it leaves law enforcement far behind.
The officer explained that these organizations are very skilled
at not drawing attention to themselves. If their vehicle has
been searched or they think they are being followed, these
criminals will literally search their entire car for police
bugs. They are very patient and have even been known to desist
from a plot when they feel at risk of being detected. In such
cases, though, they always have another plan, as each
organization is capable of carrying out several different plots.
These groups are perhaps the boldest of all in dealing with
authority-the VPD officer we contacted said that some gangsters
under investigation have been known to phone police officers
asking why they are being investigated. Linguistic barriers,
the sophisticated nature of their crimes, and the domestic and
international mobility of actors make it hard for police to
investigat EEOC roups

ndepenen Organzed Crime
10. (SBU) Independent Organized Crime (INDP). The greatest
numbers of organized crime groups are local, independent
organizations frequently associated with regional drug networks
and violent and financial crimes. ICE staff told us that these
groups also carry-out human trafficking schemes of Canadian
women, sometimes to Las Vegas or New York. An RCMP Combined
Forces Special Enforcement Unit official told us that many of
these groups do business with the Hells Angels, while remaining
autonomous. This provides them access to profitable business
while avoiding the special attention police give to Hells
Angels. INDP groups are very successful in the province,
profiting from their lucrative crime schemes while essentially
operating under the radar screen of the police much of the time.

Conclusion and Comment

11. (SBU) The province has not had much success combating
organized crime, and future prospects do not look brighter.
Nobody knows the true extent of organized crime in the province,
as the sophisticated organizations make it their business not to
be discovered. Even when police know about a group and its
activities, they lack the manpower to properly investigate and
prosecute the group and, as reported, many of the groups are
adept at changing their structure and fleeing when they feel
that police are on to their schemes. RCMP estimate that all of
B.C.'s law enforcement combined will only be able investigate 30
groups, leaving 78 groups or 72% of the province's known
criminal organizations unaccounted for.

12. (SBU) A VPD official explained to Consulate staff that BC is
a natural draw for organized crime. He indicated that Canada's
single criminal code, while more functional in other provinces,
does not work well in B.C. Strong ethnic communities have
created a "victim's mentality" for many ethnic organized crime
members which often translates into weak penalties for the
severity of the crime. As a result, law enforcement is less
willing to make arrests and prosecute crimes because the weak
jail sentences do not make their time and resource investments
worth pursuing - only a small percentage of grow op busts
actually result in jail time for example. The official further
noted that Vancouver has become one of the top 15 cities in the
world for organized crime, and is almost unique in North
America, housing almost every kind of organized crime. He
expressed appreciation for the U.S. agencies that cooperate with
VPD, saying that the US has been more successful in bringing
these criminals to justice than Canada has.
LUKENS

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