Tuesday, August 22, 2006
Organized crime groups now number 800 in Canada
Nearly 800 organized crime groups now operate in the country, up from 600 several years ago, with a makeup as diverse as the country's cultural mosaic, RCMP Commissioner Guiliano Zaccardelli said on 18 August '06.
"Organized crime has come to represent the darker side of globalization by exploiting the same things we've come to take for granted -- the free flow of goods and people around the world and the rapid advancement of technology."
Yep, that's what RCMP Sgt John Ward told us, the day after the police raided the B.C. Legislature, going on 3 years ago.
RCMP unable to pursue organized crime
James Gordon, CanWest News Service
Published: Monday, August 14, 2006
OTTAWA - The RCMP squad that tracks down dirty money and goods obtained through crime cannot pursue the majority of cases it knows about due to lack of manpower, internal documents reveal.
According to an internal evaluation obtained by CanWest News Service, for each case the Mounties' Integrated Proceeds of Crime (IPOC) unit chooses to tackle, "at least four or five others" are ignored because the manpower isn't there.
"Many cases of missed opportunities were raised," reads the document, prepared by the federal government's internal auditing service. "All of the [officers in charge] were able to provide detailed reports of cases that had not been pursued, or for which the number of targets were limited to only a few when many more should have been pursued," it adds.
"In many cases, these targets were significant organized crime figures."
The evaluation repeatedly makes reference to "restricted impact" and "missed opportunities."
In an interview, the head of IPOC acknowledged the problems identified by the evaluators in 2005 continue to dog the unit today.
"There's been adjustments on our part," RCMP Staff Sergeant Bill Malone said. "Obviously, we've had to pick and choose which targets we go after. Unfortunately it's a very target-rich environment, but we increasingly can't get around to doing all of them."
In the absence of an ability to cast a wide net, Malone said, higher-ranking crime bosses are targeted with hopes that "by cutting off the head, the animal will die."
Instances of the RCMP not being able to take down serious gangs appear to be an ongoing theme.
RCMP Commissioner Giuliano Zaccardelli told the standing Senate committee on national security and defence in May that the Mounties can only fight a small fraction of organized crime in Canada.
"At this point in time, our best guess is that we're able to tackle maybe a third of what we know is out there, in terms of serious organized crime," Zaccardelli said at the time, adding that was probably a generous estimate. "And remember, when I say one-third, that's of what we know."
He referred to a wide swath of groups, including outlaw motorcycle gangs and Italian, Russian and Asian organized crime.
Although the Conservative government announced in its spring budget $37-million to expand the RCMP's training facilities in Regina and $161-million for prosecutors and 1,000 officers, it is unclear exactly where that money will go. In addition, the Commissioner's testimony revealed the amount likely won't be nearly enough to fulfill the promise.
Malone said the fact IPOC hasn't had a boost since 1996 means numerous cutbacks have been made to operations.
The IPOC evaluation was released to CanWest News Service under the Access to Information Act by the Department of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness Canada after a 10-month delay.
It shows underfunding problems are trickling down to recruiting in several ways.
"Individuals also noted the difficulties of attracting and retaining resources from a limited pool of potential resources who are highly sought-after by various organizations," it says. "A long staffing process and a high learning curve exacerbate this problem."
Because the unit is technically without permanent funding, despite its long-term existence, evaluators believe some candidates might be reluctant to join up.
© National Post 2006