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HomeBusinessRCMP strikes team to coordinate probe of extortions targeting South Asian communities 

RCMP strikes team to coordinate probe of extortions targeting South Asian communities 

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Bob Mackin 

B.C. NDP Solicitor General Mike Farnworth welcomed the Feb. 8 move by the RCMP to share information and intelligence with police in three provinces investigating a wave of extortions, shootings and arsons. 

The RCMP’s Federal Serious and Organized Crime section said Thursday that it had started the National Coordination and Support Team (NCST) to deal with the incidents targeting South Asian communities in B.C., Alberta and Ontario.

Mike Farnworth (BC Gov)

“Violence, intimidation and extortion have no place in British Columbia or anywhere across the country,” Farnworth said in a prepared statement. 

“I am pleased to be working with Mike Ellis, Deputy Premier and Minister of Public Safety of Alberta, and Michael Kerzner, Solicitor General of Ontario, to ensure police have the resources and tools they need to target criminals and dismantle organized crime.”

The RCMP said NCST will not take over investigations underway, but will provide “national coordination, tools and support to help advance the investigations.” It will work with the Surrey RCMP, Abbotsford Police Department, Edmonton Police Service and the Peel Regional Police. 

Late last fall, police in Abbotsford and Surrey issued warnings after a letter circulated that purported to be from an Indian gang. The letter demanded $2 million in protection money and warned recipients: “We have links all over. Do not ignore us. It will effect you real bad.”

On Jan. 6, Surrey held a community meeting about the extortions after the Dec. 27 shooting at the house of the son of the head of the Vedic Hindu Cultural Society of B.C. 

Surrey RCMP Officer in Charge Brian Edwards said incidents in White Rock and West Vancouver were also connected to the crime spree. He also said 200 officers were on the case and they had logged more than 200,000 hours since October.

Global News reported last year on a leaked Abbotsford PD memo that said suspects were linked to associates of Indian gangster Lawrence Bishnoi. 

On Jan. 18, the Edmonton Police Service announced it was investigating 27 incidents since October, including five extortions, 15 arsons and seven firearms offences. On Thursday, S. Sgt. Dave Paton said its “Project Gaslight” is now investigating 34 incidents, but they are not believed to be directly connected to events elsewhere in Canada. 

Peel Regional Police’s Extortion Investigation Task Force announced 24 charges Feb. 7 against five people for mischief to property, threats and firearms-related offences in the Greater Toronto Area.

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