Opinion Column

Gangs always at war in Vancouver

Leo Knight Prime Time Crime columnist 24 hours (PHOTO SUBMITTED).

By Leo Knight, Law and Order, 24 hours Vancouver

VPD media liaison officer Const. Brian Montague said Monday that recent gang shootings are ‘unsettling’ but local residents should still feel safe. (FILE PHOTO/24 HOURS)

VPD media liaison officer Const. Brian Montague said Monday that recent gang shootings are ‘unsettling’ but local residents should still feel safe. (FILE PHOTO/24 HOURS)

A recent spate of shootings in the Lower Mainland has some media members trying to get the Vancouver Police Department to say there is a new gang war in the works. VPD media liaison officer Const. Brian Montague did his best on Monday to say it's too early to say that despite recent events.

“The shootings and violence that you are seeing right now – these are targeted incidents, they are generally involving people that are involved in high-risk behaviour, high-risk activity – gang activity, drug activity,” Montague said on Monday.

“I think it’s important to remember for the average person that while the public shootings are unsettling, they generally go about their day, enjoy their day. They can go to the coffee shop, they can enjoy the seawall, they can walk around Vancouver feeling very safe. Vancouver is a very safe city.”

Montague is quite correct on that part, but he is inaccurate on the question of a gang war. Same with the reporters who are trying to get him to say there is a new gang war heating up. The practical reality is there are always competing interests in the world of gangs and drugs, and struggles for control on the streets. And when interests compete, violence results. In essence, there is always a gang war in our fair city, sometimes more volatile than others.

It's fair to say we haven't returned to the way things were at the height of the battles during the Red Scorpions/Independent Soldiers/United Nations days of a few years ago. As nature abhors a vacuum, so too does the world of organized crime and the street gangs who work for the big boys in outlaw motorcycle gangs, such as some members of the Hells Angels, as well as the mafia (known in police circles as Traditional Organized Crime) and various Asian-based Organized Crime outfits.

It's also fair to say that with the demise of the Bacon brothers' organization, others have tried to fill the vacuum. Hence, recent events.

The problem is that we are not bringing the resources we need to take the fight to the bad guys. Since the RCMP usurped the Organized Crime Agency of BC nearly 10 years ago, and folded it into the Combined Forces Special Enforcement Unit, initiatives have changed.

There have been some victories, notably in Project E-Pandora, which targeted the East End chapter of the Hells Angels, there has also been a noticeable decrease in focus on TOC and, more importantly, AOC.

Currently, I am told by a source, the CFSEU has but one member assigned to AOC despite the fact there probably 10 times the numbers in the Lower Mainland than Hells Angels.

It's all about profile and resources, not need.

Leo Knight is a former police officer, security expert and host of primetimecrime.com.



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