Anti-gang tactics working, Mountie tells conference

Gangland murders down in B.C. but officer wants to keep pressure on

RCMP Chief Supt. Dan Malo spoke at a conference on gang violence prevention Thursday in Surrey.

RCMP Chief Supt. Dan Malo spoke at a conference on gang violence prevention Thursday in Surrey.

The battle against gangs in B.C. has made big advances but now is not the time to relax, a top B.C. Mountie told a conference on youth gang prevention Thursday.

RCMP Chief Supt. Dan Malo said he believes redoubled community efforts and new policing tactics can further dent organized crime and prevent a resurgence of the gangland bloodbath of five years ago.

“We’re down in the statistics,”  Malo told delegates in Surrey at the Acting Together gang prevention conference organized by Kwantlen Polytechnic University.

“A number of [gangsters] are in jail, a number of them are dead, a number of them have changed their behaviour and others we have forced to change their behaviour.”

There have been just three gang-linked murders in B.C. so far this year, way down from 2007 to 2009, when the annual death toll ran as high as 36.

Malo said it’s becoming clear a police strategy of pressuring prolific gangsters to make life uncomfortable and rob them of their power and influence is helping.

He said it’s also clear earlier enforcement in B.C. failed because gang members “weren’t being touched” while they spent lavishly and developed the attitude they were “superstars” who could kill at will.

“In the 90s and the 2000s we let people people like [gangster] Bindy Johal run crazy. We let the United Nations Gang and the Independent Soldiers run around with hoodies on that said they were all that.”

Youth in B.C. cities were recruited and sucked into the vortex of violence.

“Many of these young kids went from street level bullying to drug trafficking to extortion to contract killing in a matter of a few years, when traditional organized crime takes decades to do that.”

Past policing success was measured too much by the number of bad guys jailed or kilograms of cocaine seized, Malo said, and focused heavily on taking out top crime kingpins.

Today, he said, more effort aims to change attitudes and behaviours.

“It needs to become part of the fabric of British Columbia that this kind of behaviour is not tolerated. We take our young kids, we turn them into superstars in our communities – not gangsters.”

The new endganglife.ca campaign of B.C.’s anti-gang police unit plays on emotions of gangsters with imagery of loved ones left behind after they’re dead.

Malo said it worked on one ex-Lower Mainland gangster, who recently agreed to exit the life rather imagine his child having to bury him.

The biggest challenge was answering the man’s question of what he would do now to keep earning $6,000 a day.

Malo said officers arranged for the ex-gangster to enter a training program for a job that will pay well.

“If they choose to exit that lifestyle, we’re going to help them do that,” he told delegates. “We’re going to support them because they’re going to change their behaviour.”

Community groups can play a huge role in helping build strong character in youth and “give them role models that are not Jamie Bacon.”

Malo also wants to put pressure on others who profit from gang activity.

“We have to lean on businesses that take straight cash for vehicles,” he said.

“We know car rental places that make all their money from renting cars to gangsters. We need to work with them maybe tell them that’s not the right side of the community they need to be in.”

While there have been signs of success – Malo also counts the doubling in the price of cocaine in the past couple of years to $60,000 a kilogram, indicating a crimp in supply – there are also trouble spots.

Heroin overdoses have spiked in the last six months, he said.

And too many B.C. criminals remain influential players in the international drug trade.

“Now is not the time to take our foot off the gas.”

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Arzeena Hamir, working her booth at the Comox Valley Farmers Market. LUSH Valley was recognized last month as a partner of the year by the BC Association of Farmers’ Markets. Photo by Bill Jorgensen
LUSH Valley recognized for collaboration with Comox Valley Farmers’ Market

They won Partner of the Year award by the BC Association of Farmers’ Markets

Chelsea Harry was last seen Feb. 21. Photo via Comox Valley RCMP
Comox Valley RCMP seeking help locating a missing woman

Missing person last seen in Courtenay on Feb. 21

A Coast Range Cannabis store has been approved for the Crown Isle Shopping Centre in Courtenay. Photo submitted
Courtenay council approves seventh cannabis retailer

Coast Range Cannabis to open second store in the Comox Valley

A map of the Village Forest Lands near Cumberland. Image, Village of Cumberland
Cumberland adopts forest management direction statement

Less detailed than full plan, documents sets out decision-making for village-owned land

Gp Vanier in Courtenay. Circa 2018. Photo courtesy Comox Valley Schools
Another COVID exposure alert for Vanier Secondary in Courtenay

Island Health has sent another exposure alert to parents of students attending… Continue reading

Health Minister Adrian Dix looks on as Dr. Bonnie Henry pauses for a moment as she gives her daily media briefing regarding COVID-19 for British Columbia in Victoria, B.C. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
7 additional deaths and 542 new COVID-19 cases in B.C.

Provincial health officials reported 18 new COVID-19 cases linked to variants of concern

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Chief Justice Christopher Hinkson (Office of the Chief Justice)
Judge questions whether B.C.’s top doctor appreciated right to religious freedom

Lawyer for province says Dr. Henry has outlined the reasons for her orders publicly

The City of Duncan will implement a new pilot project targeting vandalism this spring. (File photo)
Graffiti trouble? Duncan will give you the brush and the paint to remove it

Initiative based on a successful project to protect Port Alberni from unwanted spray paint

A sample of guns seized at the Pacific Highway border crossing from the U.S. into B.C. in 2014. Guns smuggled from the U.S. are used in criminal activity, often associated with drug gangs. (Canada Border Service Agency)
B.C. moves to seize vehicles transporting illegal firearms

Bill bans sale of imitation or BB guns to young people

BC Housing minister David Eby is concerned that Penticton council’s decision to close a local homeless shelter will result in a “tent city” similar to this one in Everett, Wa. (Olivia Vanni / Black Press file)
‘Disappointed and baffled’ B.C. housing minister warns of tent city in Penticton

Penticton council’s decision to close a local homeless shelter could create tent city, says David Eby

This was the scene outside North Saanich’s Parkland Secondary School after an attempted but unsuccessful break-and-enter into the school torched an ATM inside of it. Sidney/North Saanich RCMP did not make any arrests and currently lack suspects as the investigation continues. Members of the public who may have witnessed something or possess other information can contact police at (250) 656-3931 or to Crimestoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS. (Submitted)
Money to burn: burglars torch North Saanich high school ATM

Police dogs searched the exterior and interior of the school after early morning break-and-enter

The first of Fisheries and Oceans Canada’s long-range maritime patrol aircraft—the Dash-8—becomes operational. (Photo supplied by PAL Aerospace)
Fisheries and Oceans Canada’s new De Havilland Dash-8-100 long-range surveillance air craft is capable of staying aloft for eight to 10 hours for a variety of missions up and down the B.C. coast. (Photo supplied by PAL Aerospace)
New plane will double DFO’s surveillance capacity in B.C.

The Dash-8 will fly out of Campbell River for enforcement, conservation missions

A recently published study out of UBC has found a link between life satisfaction levels and overall health. (Pixabay)
Satisfied with life? It’s likely you’re healthier for it: UBC study

UBC psychologists have found those more satisfied with their life have a 26% reduced risk of dying

Most Read