Models and Prevalence of Gangs and Organized Crime in Canada
The term ‘gang’ is often used to refer to young male individuals who roam the streets in urban areas wreaking havoc in the form of organized or disorganized criminal activities. However, this term can also be used to refer to outlaw bikers, non-criminal social groups, terrorists and participants in organized crime, among others. These gangs start as mere playgroups and elevate into a solidified outlaw group through conflict. They further escalate to violent criminal activities as these young ‘men’ seek excitement. They begin with petty theft before escalating to mere robbing and finally into serious armed robbery and burglary. There are several types of gangs in Canada namely; street gangs, drug cartels, outlaw biker gangs, and mafias which manifest in the form of East Asian, Indian and Aboriginal Based organized crime; and paper will provide a detailed overview of these different kinds of Canadian gangs, the types of crimes they commit, their age groups as well as the areas where they are located.
The mafia is the best-known type of gangs in Canada. They commit the most criminal activities and receive the most media attention, hence their popularity. The mafia is believed to have originated from Sicily, and the word ‘Mafia,’ according to the gang, refers to ‘a state of mind, a feeling of pride, a philosophy of life and a style of behavior.’ It is a form of a gang to which all individual members pledge lifelong loyalty, meaning that it is more of a way of life. It is believed that most of these Mafiosi recently migrated to Canada after immense pressure from the Italian authorities, settling in to work for established Mafia leaders in Toronto, Montreal and Hamilton. The Toronto mafia, which also operates in Hamilton, and the Montreal mafia popularly engage in criminal activities such as the importation of drugs, murdering and corrupting public officials, extortion, illegal gambling and loan sharking. The mafia is controlled by well-established Mafiosi families, with the sons succeeding the fathers upon demise. It is a very closely intertwined group where every member is considered as family, hence no specific age requirement. However, most of the mafia leaders and stronger members are older individuals (Scalia, 2016).
Another notorious segment of Canadian gangs are the biker gangs. They entail the Outlaws, Satan’s Choice, the Rock Machine and the infamous Hells Angels. They have been engaging in organized crime for an extended period of time, especially in the areas covering the whole of Maritimes to BC. The biker gangs mostly engage in the crime of supplying illegal drugs around their areas of operation. They are also known for being involved in contract killings and prostitution. The Hells Angels are the most powerful of the biker gangs, who are well known to leave imprints of murder and violence wherever they go (Bock, 2013).
Asian crime groups consisting of Vietnamese and Chinese organized crime groups have also gained popularity over the last three decades in Toronto and Vancouver. Chinese crime gangs have however been present in BC for a period estimated to be over 100 years. During the early 1920s, these Chinese gangs were mostly known for opium dens, prostitution houses, corruption at the highest level of the Vancouver municipal government and illegal gambling rackets. Today, they are located in Calgary, Edmonton, Toronto and Vancouver, and are well known for protection duties and extortion rackets. They also engage in growing marijuana, prostitution massage parlors, and the production and exportation of speed drugs. However, there more complex gangs ruled by Hong Kong triad masters which import heroin from the South East regions of Asia into Canada via Vancouver and the western regions of Canada (Dickson-Gilmore & Whitehead, 2002).
The First Nations gangs also engage in organized crimes in Canada, and are often referred to by the Canadian police as ‘the city’s most powerful street gang.’ They are native organized crime groups, and one of the most known mob groups under this category is known as the ‘Manitoba Warriors,’ operating mostly in the areas around Winnipeg. They consist of members