Tuesday, November 23, 2010

 

"Don't mention Organized Crime!"

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BC Mary comment: There was an episode in the British comedy series "Fawlty Towers" in which Basil Fawlty counsels his hotel staff, before the arrival of their first German guests, "Don't mention the WAR ...!" That was before he was hit on the head by a stuffed moose, after which Basil couldn't seem to open his mouth without mentioning "the War". That episode ended with the best goose-stepping display ever seen ... and the polite Germans asking one another "How did they effer vin The War?" ...






well ... somebody in the back rooms of British Columbia seems to have said "Don't mention Organized Crime!" when planning how to present news of the first police raid ever held on an elected Legislature in the entire history of the British Commonwealth. And in the Fawlty style ... Organized Crime is what we're talking about these days.


And why not? there are 133 recognized Organized Crime groups as well as 30 additional street gangs on record in BC. [http://www.macleans.ca/2010/10/14/the.worst.of.the.west]



Nathanson Centre on Transnational Human Rights, Crime and Security
Osgoode Hall, York University.

Organized Crime in Canada

A quarterly summary - Jan. to March 2004

Excerpt:

Organized Crime Activities ...



On December 26, [2003] the RCMP served a warrant to search the offices of two high-profile cabinet ministers at the B.C. legislature. Police announced that evidence uncovered during a 20-month drug and organized crime investigation led to a spin-off probe into commercial crime, which resulted in a series of search warrants served on the weekend, including several against key insiders with the federal and provincial Liberal parties.

According to some media sources, at least one - and potentially more - of the seven search warrants was also directly connected to the drug probe.  That includes either the warrant to search the legislature office of Finance Minister Gary Collins' ministerial assistant Dave Basi, or the warrant to search the office of Transportation Minister Judith Reid's ministerial assistant Bob Virk.  Basi was fired from his job, and Virk was suspended with pay. No charges have been laid in either case.

A special prosecutor, William Berardino, is assigned to the legislature case. Robert Prior, director of federal prosecutions for B.C., is handling the drug case. [BC Mary recommends http://docs.google.com/viewer?a=v&q=cache:F0Own8WnQ9YJ:www.icclr.law.ubc.ca/china_ccprcp/files/Presentations%2520and%2520Publications/40%2520Reform%2520Brings%2520about%2520Changes_English.pdf+robert+prior,+federal+director+of+prosecutions+for+BC&hl=en&gl=ca&pid=bl&srcid=ADGEESjl7ZPhj971gBhbNAei6hF4uX7twylCZllx0sPy8ReDLEmBQNM_drP0qop4MWQyRgc0JpVp4PPcqWTFdl3rUL4UMc_R4e8H0S0V7ZBeDrYbBjZCAIb0-H8iq5nFiJxc-zULEAy9&sig=AHIEtbSsMhBpZWEgEmv8A7JeJKAdKLL5oQ]

Police have released few details about the two investigations, and will not explain how the worlds of politics, drugs and organized crime allegedly intersected. However, the RCMP did say the original drug investigation was launched in the spring of 2002 specifically targeting the involvement of organized crime in the sale of B.C.-grown marijuana in the U.S. in exchange for cocaine, which was then sold in Canada.

Twenty months after the start of the joint RCMP-Victoria police drug/organized crime investigation, nine people were recently arrested in Toronto, Vancouver and Victoria but released without charges.
A Victoria police officer has been suspended with pay in connection with the investigation. Victoria Police Chief Paul Battershill confirmed the drug investigation is connected to the December 15 suspension of Victoria police Const. Ravinder Dosanjh.

A statement issued by the RCMP acknowledges the evidence uncovered in the legislature case “combined with information directly linked to the organized crime/drug investigation, resulted in police securing warrants to search offices of non-elected staff members at the BC legislature” and other locations.

The seven warrants include the two at the legislature, the home offices of two people in the Lower Mainland, the offices of a private company doing business in Victoria and Vancouver, and Basi's home.  Basi, a prominent organizer for the provincial and federal Liberal parties and a well known supporter of Prime Minister Paul Martin, issued a statement saying he had done nothing wrong. Police also searched the Victoria and Vancouver offices of Pilothouse Public Affairs Group. One of the lobbying firm's two directors is Erik Bornman, communications director for the B.C. chapter of the federal Liberals and a party activist.  Police also visited the Port Moody home office of Mark Marissen, the husband of Deputy Premier Christy Clark. Marissen is a long-time Martin supporter, and is the prime minister's most powerful non-elected ally in B.C.

Three months before police raided the B.C. legislature, the head of B.C.'s Organized Crime Agency had warned a legislature committee that organized crime has its tentacles in everything in society, including police and “government staff.” “When I (say) government staff, I'm talking of people that are in positions of supplying information,” David Douglas told the B.C. legislature's standing committee on Crown corporations. “Something as simple as targeting somebody who works in the motor vehicle branch who can supply up-to-date information on the addresses and vehicles. That sort of thing. That's the sort of people they go after - information base-type people.” 


Douglas told 11 Liberal members on the committee that organized crime wants to take advantage of the celebrity status of high-profile people, including politicians. “There are lots of examples of this. David Peterson, who is the past premier of Ontario, was on the board of directors of YBM Magnex, a Russian organized crime stock market play that ended up being investigated in the United States,” he said.


In an overview of the problems faced by his agency and others in battling organized crime, Douglas said 75 per cent of organized crime in B.C. is drug-related. Douglas also said there is increasing co-operation between criminal groups who used to battle each other.

[Scroll down to an excerpt from this committee. - BC Mary.]


British Columbia's NDP leader called on Premier Gordon Campbell for a public inquiry into organized crime in the province. James said Campbell's Liberal government is operating “under a cloud of suspicion” but needs shift away from political damage control and deal with organized crime. James also called on Campbell to restore funding to the provincial Organized Crime Agency, the Crown prosecutors office and community policing initiatives.

Sources: CanWest News. “Search warrant executed at B.C. legislature Sunday related to drugs, source says.” December 30, 2003  // Canadian Press NewsWire. “Police are investigating possible links between organized crime, the B.C. legislature and two party workers.” January 6, 2004 //  CanWest News. “B.C. politicians warned of organized crime menace before recent raid.” March 12, 2004 // Canadian Press NewsWire. “Charges in B.C. legislature raid case months away, says Victoria police chief.” March 1, 2004 //  Canadian Press NewsWire. “NDP leader calls for public inquiry on organized crime in B.C.” January 11, 2004.

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See:  Report of Proceedings

Select Standing Committee on Crown Corporations

Wednesday, October 8, 2003

Source (in full): http://www.leg.bc.ca/cmt/37thparl/session-4/cc/hansard/C31008a.htm


Review of the Organized Crime Agency
of British Columbia

           D. Douglas: Mr. Chairman, thank you very much for the opportunity, on behalf of the Organized Crime Agency, to meet with you today to talk about the organized crime situation in British Columbia. What we're going to do over the next hour is talk about the challenge of organized crime in 2003, our strategic response and our performance in that area over the last year, and the accountability processes we've put in place.

           It's safe to say that organized crime is the world's fastest-growing industry — low investment, huge profits, little deterrent and an unquenchable thirst out there in the general public for contraband. It's a force that affects everyone. When you look around, you see it every day — increased health care costs due to drug use, increased home and car insurance rates based on break and enters and a tremendous number of thefts of autos. In fact, on the auto theft side alone it's a $600 million industry — a cost to insurers in this country. Increased credit card rates. Right now the banks are estimating that 1/12 of their revenue goes to counterfeit credit cards. That's why your interest rates are so high on credit cards. Just with grow ops alone, $1 billion is stolen from various hydro companies across this country. Of course, we have the resulting public safety issues.

           Its citizenship is global. We'll see from some of our investigations that go international, on day 2, that

[ Page 274 ]

transnational organized crime is a global problem. Its currency is cash. The International Monetary Fund estimates global money laundering to be somewhere between $1 trillion and $3 trillion a year. Its motive is profit and power. Money equals power, and that's the power to buy violence, to intimidate, to corrupt. I think we've all heard of "Mom" Boucher, who headed up the Hell's Angels in Quebec. His net worth assessment is over $250 million. Its by-product is human misery. We see that every day on our streets in the downtown east side — health issues, violence, victims of fraud.

           It's safe to say that in the past five to ten years, the face of organized crime has changed a great deal, and it has created unprecedented challenges for law enforcement not only in this country but around the world. Globalization — we'll touch on this in a minute — the fusion of criminal groups, multicommodity criminal activity, the use of technology, the geography of organized crime and the convergence of organized crime and terrorism…. As I said, that new face has created some real problems for us and some real challenges. You'll hear about those challenges over the next hour.

           Just with the external challenges of organized crime, when we look at changes in world politics and business technology, who would think that things like the European Union and NAFTA would be an advantage to organized crime? It's huge advantages to organized crime. The European Union has basically created a borderless Europe, customs-free. People and goods travel quite readily right across Europe. That creates all kinds of issues, and it makes that environment vulnerable for organized crime to extort.

           When we look at even our own situation, with the North America Free Trade Agreement, it is now possible to ship goods in bond from Mexico to Toronto without ever going through U.S. customs or Canada customs. Think of the opportunities that creates for organized crime if they set up — and they have — their own bonded customs importing businesses.

[0915]

           No borders for organized crime. When we look at the map of the world, we see borders and boundaries and international jurisdictions. When organized crime looks at that same map, they don't see any of those things; they just see a seamless opportunity for criminal activity.

           When we look at how fast advanced communications encryption has gone over the last five to ten years…. Think of something as simple as the cell phone you carried ten years ago compared to the cell phone you carry today and all of the different things that are built into that particular cell phone. Look at encryption. Look at the Internet. Certainly, organized crime has extorted those kinds of areas to their own advantage.

           The rapid movement of goods and people and money. It wasn't long ago that you didn't have on-line banking or ATMs. Again, organized crime has been very quick to jump on those opportunities.

           Diffusion of criminal groups is a very interesting thing, and this is the thing that has happened in the last five to ten years. These groups are now very cellular in structure. They're organized like terrorist cells. They're hard to infiltrate. When one portion of that cell is infiltrated, it doesn't necessarily mean that you're going to be able to apprehend or interdict the other part of the cell, because there's separation in there, and they have very, very strong top-down leadership.

           They're run like corporations, because they see the benefits of cooperation. They share their expertise. They share their contacts. They've created these non-traditional alliances. We've heard about the turf wars of the past. We are now faced with attacking organized crime groups that are made up of Vietnamese, Russian, Indo-Canadian, Chinese, Eastern European, all kinds of different languages and all kinds of different dialects inside those languages. Our main business is wiretap investigation, so we have to find the people who can do the translation services for us. So just that one little area there creates huge problems for us.

           Entrepreneurial multicommodity criminal activity. These organized crime groups will become involved in a myriad of criminal activity. I'll give you an example of one of our projects called Coconut, and you'll hear about it a little later on. Within two weeks of starting the investigation, which went international on day 2 with various U.S.–based law enforcement agencies, we went from the exportation of B.C. bud to the importation of cocaine, huge money laundering, weapons trafficking, human trafficking and conspiracy to commit murder in New York State in two weeks. It crosses over all kinds of law enforcement stovepipes such as customs, immigration, state police, the FBI, the Secret Service. The coordination of that kind of investigation is difficult. They have created this kind of situation because they know we have difficulty dealing interjurisdictionally, both on relationships and the law.

           They're pooling their resources and their expertise, especially in the area of counterfeit credit card fraud, identity theft and the flexibility to meet emerging trends. They're extremely flexible. You've heard about the drug Ecstasy, a rave drug. It's produced primarily in the Netherlands. The Netherlands has a liberal attitude toward drugs. From a Europol intelligence report, there are 120 different organized crime groups in the Netherlands — and that's not a very big country — all vying to export 15 metric tonnes of pure Ecstasy into North America within the next year. They are very flexible to the emerging trends.

           The use of technology. You see the header on that news items there: "Hackers Crack A&B Site — Credit Card Details Revealed." The technology that fuels the legitimate economy also fuels criminal enterprise. We have crimes such as Internet crimes, on-line gambling, pornography encryption, software piracy, money laundering and denial-of-service attacks. We're coming into the world of on-line extortion and cyberterrorism. You just saw what happened when the power failed down in Ontario. Imagine if that was a cyberattack on a public infrastructure like a power grid, and they controlled that environment. They could bring it up, drop it down, bring it up, drop it down. Imagine what the implications of that are.

[ Page 275 ]

[0920]

           With respect to one particular case here, on-line gambling, where we had an investigation that went on for two years targeted at an organization in Vancouver called StarNet Communications, who had Hell's Angels on their board of directors…. When we took that company down, it had revenue in the amount of $48 million. Its stock was trading over-the-counter on the NASDAQ; its stock was worth $1 billion. On the day of the arrest its stock lost $250 million — the largest one-day loss in the history of the NASDAQ — and that was a Canadian organized crime company. That was on-line gambling.

           As I said before, organized crime has been very quick to jump on these opportunities. Software piracy. We just completed an investigation — and you'll hear about it later — working with Microsoft on what was the largest seizure of pirated software in Canadian history, worth $4.5 million. There is a lot of that going on out there.

           Then we have the geography of organized crime — seaports, airports, extended border and coastline. Just looking at the map, you can see what kinds of opportunities that creates for organized crime ...



There's much more HERE.  http://www.leg.bc.ca/cmt/37thparl/session-4/cc/hansard/C31008a.htm


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BC Mary comment: All this was known and discussed in the months prior to the police raids on the BC Legislature. Why didn't the Campbell Government leap into action, supporting and co-operating in such a critical investigation into crime?


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Comments:
If you go to the Hansard transcript of that meeting, you'll see that crown corporations committee met in camera with the Organized Crime Agency, which seems quite unusual. I wonder what they discussed?
 
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Blessings upon the wonderful readers who leave their comments here on The Legislature Raids.

Thank you, and thanks again!
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"BC Mary comment: All this was known and discussed in the months prior to the police raids on the BC Legislature. Why didn't the Campbell Government leap into action, supporting and co-operating in such a critical investigation into crime?"

I'll suggest that the Campbell government DID leap into action to cover their heavily implicated asses! And as we can see daily the cover-up continues at our expense!
 
"Why didn't the Campbell Government leap into action, supporting and co-operating in such a critical investigation into crime?"

Because it would be the same thing as the RCMP investigating themselves? Or...maybe they did cooperate - just long enough to slam the doors and windows on any light threatening to enter.
 
What about that bit someone fielded quite a while ago, that the raids happened only because the DEA component in the local coordinated unit was pushing for it, and they didn't give a damn about the sanctity/privilege of government offices? Add in the righteous bros from the Victoria Police Department, and my feeling is that you had the RCMP exerting damage control - damage suffocation.

BTW all those notebooks and documents that Patrick Dohm took a felt marker to "redact" can all be recovered by materials-analysis.....and I'd venture that there are things in there that would call into question Dohm's alleged impartiality.....and since when does a judge get to destroy evidence, simply because he's a judge?
 
I asked Skookum1 for a bit more information and he added:

Yeah, it was the coordinated law enforcement unit that had the drug investigation going, and the US Drug Enforcement Agency is part of that organization; one of your regular posters had brought this up quite a while ago, don't know how they got that intelligence....it's why the repeated pressure on getting the "right" warrants......Vancouver has a DEA office, and I think they're in EComm even.....

Thanks, Skookum1.
 
Which, if true, leads me back to my old suggestion that the only way we may see justice in this province is by pursuing the matters in US courts, with US investigators....it's clear that BC and Canadian courts (and police and prosecutors) are a lost cause.
 
I agree with the earlier comment that the Campbell government will leave BC in such horrible shape that it will take years to straighten it out, and cost untold amounts of money. Whoever forms the next government (the NDP) will be in a lose-lose situation.

Any chance this was some kind of set-up between Campbell and Harper? Maybe to facilitate the return of the pro-big business Conservatives – under whatever name they pick – after four years of NDP failure to correct ten years of rape and pillage?

Any more Conservative Senate seats coming available? Just wondering.
 
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