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.”

Just Posted

The Great Gordini puts on a magic show for an avid audience during the first Storytime in the Park in this 2019 photo. (Grace Kennedy/The Observer)
Storytime in the Park returns this summer

Day 1 registration is on June 30

Dancers from the Sts’ailes First Nation perform the eagle dance at a welcome banner dedication ceremony on Thursday, June 10. “Ey Swayel” is a Halq̓eméylem term translated as ‘a good day.’ (Adam Louis/Observer)
VIDEO: ‘A good day’ for Agassiz school as Sts’ailes welcome banner is dedicated

Banner hangs above the school’s entrance, welcoming students, staff and visitors

UFV athletes were honoured for their strength and perseverance during the pandemic. (UFV photo)
Fraser Valley athletes recognized in year without sports

UFV Cascades athletes honoured for strength shown during the pandemic

Missing Abbotsford man Adam Hobbs was found deceased on Thursday evening (June 17).
Body of missing Abbotsford man Adam Hobbs found

Hobbs was reported missing Monday after leaving his job site in Langley

A small pod of Pacific white-sided dolphins pass by close to shore in Campbell River June 16, 2021. Still capture from video courtesy of Kimberly Hart
VIDEO: Dolphin sunset captured from Vancouver Island shore

Spectacular setting for view of travelling pod of Pacific white-sided dolphins

Police are asking for public assistance in locating Anthony Graham who has been charged with the murders of Kamloops brothers Carlo and Erick Fryer. (RCMP photo)
2 charged, suspect at large in killings of B.C. brothers linked to gang activity: RCMP

Kamloops brothers Erick and Carlo Fryer were found deceased in May on a remote Okanagan road

Albert Health Minister Tyler Shandro and Alberta Premier Jason Kenney unveil an opening sign after speaking about the Open for Summer Plan and next steps in the COVID-19 vaccine rollout, in Edmonton, Friday, June 18, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Alberta 1st province in Canada to lift all COVID-19 public health restrictions

70.2% of eligible citizens 12 and older in the province have received a dose of the vaccine

Fraser Health registered nurse Ramn Manan draws a dose of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine into a syringe at a walk-up vaccination clinic at Bear Creek Park, in Surrey, B.C., on Monday, May 17, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
‘Honour our fathers’ with COVID-19 vaccine protection, B.C. urges

109 new cases Friday, 75 per cent of 12 and up immunized

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good
Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

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

(Paul Henderson/ Chilliwack Progress)
Trutch Avenue in Chilliwack to be renamed to remove racist taint

New name to have Indigenous significance as Chilliwack takes new step toward reconciliation

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is seen during a joint news conference following the EU-Canada Summit, in Brussels, Belgium, Tuesday June 15, 2021. Trudeau says Canada is on track now to have 68 million doses delivered by the end of July, which is more than enough to fully vaccinate all 33.2 million Canadians over the age of 12. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Vaccine deliveries enough to fully vaccinate all eligible Canadians by end of July

Three in four eligible Canadians now have their first dose, nearly one in five fully vaccinated.

Most Read