Tag Archives: gangs

Mani Amar: A Reckless Proposal & Profiteering For Criminals

A Reckless Proposal & Profiteering For Criminals
By Mani Amar

The amount of gang activity that occurs in Vancouver, our small but beautiful major city, rivals massive metropolitan areas across North America. Los Angeles, Las Vegas, New York, & Chicago are well known throughout the world for gang activity, but another city has taken precedence on this list. Our city.

Vancouver generates billions of tax free dollars through its marijuana trade industry every year. Vancouver is geographically destined to be a major drug distribution hub. But instead of using resources to tackle such a drug issue, we are providing criminals with another reason to operate. Gambling.

Gambling, along with prohibited narcotics, alcohol, and prostitution have been historically the favourite industries for gangs to operate within. Gambling has an ominous aura; it attracts addictive personality peoples, it attracts organized crime, and it attracts violence. Gambling generates other dangerous criminal industries such as loan sharking and money laundering.

For a city that has been ravaged by violent crimes, a city with a drug industry with worldwide distribution, and a city with law enforcement resources stretched very thin, to even consider a mega casino expansion in a central location of the city is not only reckless, but simply stupid.

The very notion of PavCo bringing this proposal to Vancouver is based solely on greed. They do not care for our city, they do not care for our safety. They simply care about their own financial gain.

They bombard us with statistics of money, telling us that Vancouver will profit dearly from tax dollars and job creation. But they neglect to mention that lives will be damaged, government resources will be stretched further, our valuable tax dollars and the valuable tax dollars of our future generations will be used to salvage the socioeconomic downturn of our once beautiful, and more importantly, safe city.

I urge the council to consider the negative effects of this casino expansion. Consider all that will be lost, for this generation and our future.

This is nothing more than a reckless proposal and opportunity of profiteering for criminals. This is simply a situation where the cons outweigh the pros.

Police Veterans Oppose Casino Expansion

Mayor and Council,
City of Vancouver
453 West 12th Avenue
Vancouver BC V5Y 1V4
Via E-mail

April 7, 2011

Dear Mayor and Council,

Re: Proposed Relocation and Expansion of Edgewater Casino

We, the undersigned, are members or retired members of the VPD, RCMP and other law enforcement agencies operating in BC, Canada, and internationally. We all have decades of experience in law enforcement, and many of us have particular experience or undercover expertise with organized crime, gangs, and money-laundering. Organized crime and gang activity have become deeply entrenched in the Metro Vancouver environment and represent an ongoing threat to public safety.

We urge this Council not to approve the proposed expansion and relocation of the Edgewater Casino. Casinos and racetracks are well known for their vulnerability to the activities of gangs and organized crime–money-laundering, loan-sharking, extortion, and prostitution, as well as for the vulnerability to public corruption which they engender.

That organized criminals and gang members frequent BC casinos, and easily use them to launder money, or use them as sites for the operation of loan-sharking and prostitution, is well known. Policing in casinos and racetracks requires a robust commitment to real enforcement of the law–a commitment that is plainly lacking at the present time.

Further, we are very concerned about the impact of increased gambling on our addict population, or those at risk of entering it. We note the 2009 report of the B.C. Medical Association, Stepping Forward, which found that the incidence of severe gambling addiction has more than doubled between 2002-2009, and that BC now has nearly as many severe gambling addicts as it does drug addicts. Additionally, the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health has recently released a study showing that 29,000 Ontario teens in grades 7-12 now show signs of problem gambling.

It is no coincidence that these youths are also significantly more likely than their peers to engage in gang violence, carry a handgun, and deal drugs other than cannabis. Tragically, they are also 18 times more likely than their peers to have attempted suicide in the past year.

Locating a major casino in a major regional sporting complex sends a poor message to our youth.

Addiction is a blight on society. It has a close and mutually reinforcing relationship with crime. It promotes additional offenses such as property crimes and drug-dealing, as victims seek the money to feed their habits–whatever those may be. There is no way to measure the social cost of this suffering on victims and their families, but the health, policing, criminal justice, social services and corrections systems as well as charitable service agencies all bear the brunt of the increased pressures brought about by this public problem.

Securing new sources of government funds from addicts to pay for their increased demand on government services is not wise public policy.

Without significant changes in the policing protocol, and the adoption of rigorous crime control standards for casinos such as those employed by the Ontario Provincial Police, we are in no position to deal with the increased criminal activity that will necessarily attend the development of a massive casino on the scale proposed here.

As citizens and public servants, we owe a duty of care to society’s weakest and most vulnerable, to our youth and seniors, and to the public at large. As police officers, we have seen the ravages of addiction and of gang and organized crime first-hand. The connection is closer than most members of the public may imagine.

We urge Vancouver City Council to vote against the expansion and relocation of the Edgewater Casino.

Yours truly,

Assistant Commissioner Earl Moulton – RCMP Commanding Officer Saskatchewan
(Ret’d)  Chair of Vision Quest Recovery Society (Addiction recovery services, BC)
Deputy Chief Constable Peter Ditchfield, Organized Crime Agency of BC (Ret’d)
Detective Ian Pope, Organized Crime Agency of B.C., formerly VPD, (Ret’d)
Sergeant Bob Cooper, VPD Asian Organized Crime Section, (Ret’d)
Sergeant Ivan Chu, New Westminster Police Service (Ret’d)
Superintendent GlennWoods, Officer in Charge of Behavioural Sciences, RCMP (Ret’d)
Staff Sergeant Otto Bertagnolli, RCMP Drug Section (Ret’d)
Staff Sergeant Scot Filer, RCMP Major Crime Section (Ret’d)
Staff Sergeant Peter Montague, RCMP Commercial Crime Section (Ret’d)
Corporal Howard Parks, RCMP Money Laundering Expert (Ret’d)
Corporal Chris Mathers, RCMP Money Laundering Expert (Ret’d)
Sergeant Pat Powell, RCMP Threat Assessment Expert (Ret’d)
Inspector Keith Davidson, RCMP Major Crime Section (Ret’d)
Staff Sergeant Bob Hartl, RCMP Security Engineering Expert (Ret’d)
Dr Teal Maedel, RCMP Operational Psychologist (Major Crime Section)
Staff Sergeant Robert Stenhouse, RCMP Drug Section (Ret’d)
Staff Sergeant Sid Slater, RCMP Major Crime Section (Ret’d)
Staff Sergeant Tibi Roman, RCMP Border Integrity (serving)

Strathcona Residents’ Association Opposes Edgewater Casino Expansion in Unanimous Motion

Strathcona Residents’ Association
c/o 601 Keefer Street, Vancouver, BC, V6A 3V8
Strathcona-residents.org

January 5, 2011

To The Mayor and City Council of Vancouver:

As Chair of The Strathcona Resident’s Association (SRA), I am writing to inform you that at our January 5, 2011 meeting:

The Strathcona Residents Association unanimously voted to oppose the expansion of the Edgewater Casino at BC Place Stadium in False Creek.

The SRA urges City Council to refuse to pass the B.C. Government’s application to expand gaming in the municipality, and to oppose the building of the Edgewater mega-casino.

Our reasons for opposition to the building of the expanded Edgewater casino include the following:

1. The planned casino is less than a ten minute walk from our neighbourhood. The well-documented crime that attends casinos, even in provinces with far better gambling regulation than that observed in British Columbia, is not welcome. Strathcona already suffers from crime levels far worse than most other districts. Our position is that situating a massive casino so close to the Downtown Eastside, with its pre-existing crime and policing troubles, is unwise to say the least. Recent news reports demonstrate that casinos provide easy access to money laundering for organized crime, and casinos always attract gang activity. We ask you to acknowledge the growing threat that gangs constitute to our communities.

2. The expanded casino will bring increased traffic to the tune of 300 cars per hour, which will negatively impact our community.

3. The BC government expanded gaming in this province on the back of support from charities who expected to be supported by gaming revenues. Charities have been radically cut away from these revenues. Our neighbourhood, like every other, derives important services from these charities. We see no benefit from expanded gaming in our community.

4. We are opposed to gambling and gambling expansion in general as it significantly increases social ills, something our community witnesses in graphic form daily.

Again, we urge you to decline the application for gaming expansion, and remind you that Strathcona’s opposition is strong and unanimous.

Sincerely,

James C. Johnstone
Chairperson, Strathcona Residents’ Association
Chair@strathcona-residents.org

604-254-4666

cc. Jenny Kwan, MLA
Libby Davies, MP

Comment on Vancouver’s Oak Street Shooting: gangs and money-laundering

The shooting of 10 gang-related people on Vancouver’s westside over the weekend is an astonishing punctuation mark in our history. We all know this horrific escalation of violence is out of any control by police and civil authorities, and no end is in sight.

Most of us associate gangs with violence and street warfare, but these incidents are only ancillary to the massive industry behind them. Money is the lifeblood that feeds it. Controlling the gangs is as simple, and as overwhelmingly difficult, as this: STOP THE MONEY.

It’s impossible to stop the drug business, the prostitution, human trafficking, gun and weapons trade, loan sharking and other commerce that preys on human misery and weakness.

Yet consider this: almost ALL gang-related transactions are cash, and that cash, hundreds and hundreds of millions of it, must be laundered into “legal” currency through conventional business outlets.

FINTRAC (Financial Transactions and Report Analysis Centre of Canada) is the federal government agency tasked with discovering, scrutinizing, disrupting, and shutting down money-laundering activities. It has identified casinos as a high priority focus for money laundering by organized crime and terrorists–which BC has had more than its fair share of: see  FINTRAC – Money Laundering Typologies and Trends in Canadian Casinos – Financial Transactions and Reports Analysis Centre of Canada.

FINTRAC tracking indicates that money laundering in casino venues has increased significantly from 2007-08.

For all their talk about integrity and law and order, the BC Lottery Corporation and the BC government have almost completely abandoned the nexus between legal gambling operations and money-laundering by organized crime.

In late 2008 the Integrated Illegal Gaming Enforcement Team issued a damning report, which said “Canadian casinos are extremely vulnerable to money laundering because they deal in cash and handle tens of millions of dollars every day… members of organized crime also used casinos for criminal purposes and… some of these criminal elements have successfully infiltrated the industry. “ See RCMP on money-laundering.

The report goes on to say that in recent years FINTRAC has alerted the RCMP to suspicious transactions involving casinos, with amounts across Canada totalling over $40 million, but that, “because of other priorities and lack of resources, at this time, nothing is being done to investigate these situations.”

Most of us, faced with such an incendiary report, would immediately beef up policing of casinos, yes?

Obviously we don’t understand how protecting the public interest actually works in the greatest place on earth.

Because the real answer was to call an urgent in-camera meeting of the IIGET Consultative Board with representatives of the Gaming Branch, to review the report. This happened on January 26, 2009, and concluded with a discussion of the “uncertainty of future funding for IIGET.”

Within three weeks, internal emails reveal, the die was cast. IIGET would be disbanded. See the emails concerning the closure of the integrated illegal gaming enforcement team. To this day BC has no dedicated specialized policing of casinos and the money-laundering and loan-sharking that go on inside their premises on a daily basis: The announcement was made April 1, 2009, which probably tickled the funny-bones over at BC Gaming.

And what has been the result?

The BC Lottery Corporation seems to have turned a blind eye to the whole business. In July of this year, FINTRAC, in an unprecedented move, fined the BC Lottery Corporation $670,000 for inadequate reporting of suspicious transactions–the first fine of a gaming regulatory body in Canada. BC Lottery Corporation president Michael Graydon brushed off the offenses as clerical errors.

Mr. Graydon, Solicitor General Rich Coleman: We are seeing the results of your negligence on our city streets. Our children are waking in their beds to the sound of gunfire outside their windows.

Faced with the opportunity to help stop this hellish business, you are doing nothing. Worse than nothing.

Give us real policing in our casinos, and stop pretending that everything that goes on inside them is just fun and games.

Concerning Casino Links to Organized Crime

 

To the average member of the public, gangs are associated with violence and turf wars. This view masks the reality that organized crime is fundamentally a large scale and powerful business, with operations throughout society.

If you think organized crime will not touch you or your family through the expansion of gambling, think again. Last year Betty Yan, a mother with children at a prestigious west side school, was shot to death in a Richmond parking lot. She was a loan shark working with gangs. Her clientele were gambling addicts in Lower Mainland casinos.

The damage didn’t end with her death. Parents at the west side elementary school, afraid for the safety of their own children, forced the woman’s young and traumatized children out of the school. And Yan was not the only murder victim tied to gambling and organized crime.

In 2006, loan shark Lilly Li left her regular shift at Richmond’s River Rock Casino with somewhere between $20,000 and $300,000 in cash, and disappeared. Her body was found months later, buried in a shallow grave at Jericho Beach.

This is happening in our city–our Metro Vancouver–and it is part and parcel of the expansion of legalized gambling and the building of casinos in our midst.

Right here in Metro Vancouver loan sharks charge up to 20% a day, and victims don’t believe police can do anything to protect them. Terrified of reprisals against the debtor or an innocent family member, loan shark victims are often forced into prostitution and drug-dealing to pay off their gambling debts: CBC News – British Columbia – Casino loan sharks a tricky target: RCMP

And just who do you think is there to help them with that little money-making sideline? Why, the gangs, of course. All under one roof, care of the BC taxpayer.

It didn’t used to be this way.

BC gambling in the old days mainly involved provincial lotteries and smoky bingo halls operated by charities. Those days are long gone, and the glittering gambling palaces that replaced the bingo halls are the perfect venue for budding young Scarfaces with their loan shark, money laundering, and drug dealing activities operated by the Hell’s Angels, the Asian triads, the UN gang, and Indo-Canadian gangs.

Apart from correctional institutions, casinos have the highest concentration of gangsters anywhere in BC, says Fred Pinnock, the former commander of BC’s Integrated Illegal Gaming Enforcement Team (IIGET): Ex-unit commander questions government’s commitment to “meaningful” illegal gaming investigations – Public Eye Online

Pinnock goes on to say “There’s a ton of criminal activity being conducted in these places every day, including money laundering, loansharking and other enterprise crimes.”

Policing legalized gambling operations requires highly specialized resources, training, sophisticated data bases and communications, and a far-reaching law enforcement strategy.

Naturally, you would expect that our provincial government, concerned as it is about the protection of the public and the perception that legal gambling operations are squeaky clean, would aggressively target the criminal element. Yup, and there is a great bridge for sale in Brooklyn, too.

The fact is that Minister Rich Coleman, who takes the gaming portfolio with him to whichever ministry he is moved to, has completely abdicated his responsibility to ensure the public is adequately protected in BC casinos. Faced with a report in January 2010 from IIGET that casinos are a hotbed of illegal activity (RCMP Money Laundering Report), and the team does not have nearly enough resources to do even rudimentary investigation, Minister Coleman immediately took decisive action: he disbanded them.

Minister denies illegal gaming report allegations

Now there is no serious oversight of gang and organized crime activity in casino operations. Now, as a result of the most recent cabinet shuffle, BC’s minister responsible for gaming is ALSO the Solicitor-General, and responsible for policing.

Even for gangsters, BC is Open for Business!