Saturday, May 31, 2008

 

Like Vancouver 15 years ago

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CRIME WEBS ALARM CITY POLICE CHIEF

Jack Knox
Times Colonist - published 29 Jan 2005


Battershill Likens Emerging Culture Of Gangs To Vancouver 15 Years Ago

They're young, vicious, armed to the teeth, quickly getting rich moving cocaine by the kilo -- and they're giving the cops the willies.

Mid-level organized crime is growing stronger in the capital, said Victoria Police Chief Paul Battershill, reminding him of what Vancouver looked like 15 years ago at the blossoming of the gang culture and nightclub shootings that now plague the Lower Mainland.

The same signs, he said, are emerging here. "We're turning up more and more guns that are loaded and ready to go."

Three or four Victoria-area murders in the past year or so are believed to be drug-related hits. Violence in bars, some of them controlled by organized crime, is getting nasty. "If we don't get a grip on that in the next few years, we're going to have the same problems as Vancouver," Battershill said Friday.

He's not talking about street-level dealers selling flaps to kids on the corner. Nor is he referring to the high-up, low-profile criminals raking in fortunes in the international drug trade.

Battershill is concerned about the ones in the middle. There are probably fewer than a score of them in Victoria, an ethnic mix of whites, Indo-Canadians and Asians in their twenties, doing business with a handful of B.C.'s organized-crime gangs.

"The mid-level gang activity is emerging," said the chief. "It's characterized by some degree of organization, firearms and violence."

The men deal in crystal meth and heroin, but mostly in cocaine, anywhere from an ounce to five kilograms at a time.

A kilo of cocaine costs $22,000 to $25,000, earning maybe four times that after being sold by the ounce to street-level dealers.

That leaves the men with a lot of cash, which they like to flash around the bars in which they gather. Just like the guys Battershill remembers from his days with the Vancouver police -- and unlike more disciplined gang members who tend to shy away from anything that puts them in the spotlight - -- they enjoy violence that has no business purpose.

Police warn that one of them will intentionally harass a woman with the goal of picking a fight with her boyfriend, who will suddenly find himself set upon by four or five men.

"They're dangerous," said Battershill. And they're well-armed, eschewing low-end pistols in favour of 9-millimetre and 40-calibre Glocks, Berettas and Walthers, freshly bought in Las Vegas. "When you start to see the semi-automatics, that's another sign that you're into the gang-coke stuff."

The chief is saying all this just days before going to city council to argue for more police officers, but he maintains the timing is irrelevant.

"It's going to seem like this is contrived, but it's not," he said. "We've known for a year or two now that this stuff is starting to grab us."

Police haven't been inactive. This December, as part of a sting in which cocaine and ecstasy was bought from people in five downtown clubs, police negotiated the purchase of a kilogram of cocaine. And the December 2003 legislature raids grew indirectly from a Victoria police investigation aimed at mid-level Indo-Canadian cocaine traffickers. [Emphasis added. - BC Mary.]

Battershill's concern is that he has seen this movie before. Over the last decade or so, the Lower Mainland has seen scores of gang-related murders, often the product of drug rip-offs, territorial disputes among dealers, or old-fashioned machismo.

Gang activity there has spread, drawing in more young men seduced by what they see as a glamorous lifestyle. Lots of money. Lots of babes. Nice cars. Drugs. Action.

"In some respects they become Antichrist-as-role-models," said Battershill.

Not that they last in the life too long. Battershill, who used to lead the team that did take-downs of armed gang members in Vancouver, said many of the criminals he dealt with in the early 1990s are now dead or paralyzed from gunshot wounds.

But Victoria isn't Vancouver yet, he said.

"That's what we want to avoid."

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And they get rid of the Police Chief ... over a "personnel issue". - BC Mary.

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Comments:
Pretty articulate for a cop. It will be interesting to see what was behind it; all the leaks to the media, break-ins, involvement of developers and lawyers, secret clients, etc.. Spooky actually.
 
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I agree with you, Anonymous 3:24.

Check out Paul Battershill and you find a thinking man who has a Science degree from UBC.

And it is spooky the way things have been handled. It makes me very uncomfortable that one of our best, gets treated this way.

Sure would like to have a chat with the man.

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