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HomeMiscellanyCanadian police fear organized crime group will exploit wave of Salvadoran asylum seekers

Canadian police fear organized crime group will exploit wave of Salvadoran asylum seekers

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Bob Mackin

Police in Metro Vancouver have been warned that a notorious Los Angeles-centred organized crime group with Salvadoran roots could set-up shop in the region, as a result of Trump administration policies. 

theBreaker obtained an April-issued, Canada-wide alert from Criminal Intelligence Service Canada under the headline “Mara Salvatrucha (MS-13) in Canada.”

MS-13 is is estimated to have 50,000 to 70,000 members in Central America and the U.S. The memo states that there are no known MS-13 cells in Canada at this time, but cautions that Vancouver, Burnaby, Toronto and Montreal are the “the most susceptible communities” for northern expansion.

Canadian officials are girding for an influx of asylum-seeking Salvadoran migrants after the U.S. decided to end the temporary protected status for 200,000 Salvadorans by September 2019. When the U.S. removed similar protection for Haitian immigrants in 2017, an influx of Haitians showed up at the Canadian border. 

The alert warned MS-13 members would likely exploit the migration of Salvadorans to Canada and set up new cells in Canada’s biggest three cities, plus Burnaby.

MS-13 is notorious for extortion, low-level drug trafficking and theft. The group is believed to be responsible for “thousands of homicides a year in the U.S.” the alert states. 

“Violence linked to the MS-13 is often described as brutal, from senseless beatings to dismemberment, and should be considered as the group’s trademark. Other manifestations of MS-13 presence could include gang-related graffiti or, less common nowadays, MS-13 tattoos.” 

Vancouver Police spokesman Const. Jason Doucette said the force does not have any current information about the presence of MS-13 in Vancouver. 

“The VPD has experts in organized crime who are in regular contact with our local, national, and international partners,” Doucette said. “We will continue to monitor organized crime groups in Vancouver, regardless of their origins, and take appropriate actions to ensure our city remains a safe place to live, work, and visit.”

Coincidentally, Latin American criminal groups are part of what Australian criminology expert John Langdale called the “Vancouver model” of casinon and drug money laundering. theBreaker was first to report that Langdale coined the term. 

“Chinese underground banks are at the heart of Chinese criminal activity. Money [is] laundered from Vancouver into/out of China and to other locations (Mexico, Colombia),” according to Langdale’s November 2017 presentation to an Australian policing conference. 

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