In early 2009, a series of gang-related shootings occurred due to what police describe as a gang war in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. Alleged participants include the Independent Soldiers, the Sanghera Crime Group, the Buttar Gang, the Bacon Brothers, the United Nations Gang, the Red Scorpions, and the Vancouver chapter of the Hells Angels.
The escalation of gang violence in Vancouver, beginning in January 2009, is alleged to have been caused by disruptions to the supply of illegal drugs resulting from the crackdown by the Mexican government against the drug cartels there, who supplied cocaine to British Columbia in return for marijuana. This reduced the profits of the Independent Soldiers (IS) and their sometime allies the United Nations gang. The IS are primarily an Indo-Canadian gang while the United Nations gang is made of a multitude of different ethnic groups. More recently, Chinese and Guatemalans and other various nationalities have been recruited. Both of these gangs' main modus operandi is gun running and smuggling marijuana known as BC Bud to the United States.
The cocaine trade became very profitable due to the ongoing Mexican Drug War. The Mexican Army has severely curtailed the ability of the Mexican drug cartels to move cocaine inside the U.S. and Canada. The U.S. government says the amount of cocaine seized on U.S. soil dropped by 41 percent between early 2007 and mid-2008 and claims this is due to this pressure. The price in Vancouver has increased from $23,300 to almost $39,000 a kilo.
The cocaine trade has been the domain of the IS and UN's rival Red Scorpion street gang and the Hells Angels biker gang. As the IS and UN gangs moved in, the Red Scorpions hit back leading to an all out gang war.
Progress and escalation
By the end of the first quarter of 2009, more than 20 people had been killed and 40 wounded. The Hells Angels had primarily stayed out of the fighting up to this point while the IS gang was busy trying to protect its turf from the resurgent Buttar Gang after police in April 2009 functionally dismantled the rival Sanghera Crime Group after a series of arrests which created a vacuum allowing the Buttar gang to expand its operations and encroaching on the IS for its marijuana monopoly.
But most of the wounded and killed had been members of the Red Scorpions and UN gangs who were engaged in a brutal tit-for-tat turf war. The carnage between the UN and the Red Scorpions was believed to stem from the fatal shootings of six men in an apartment in the suburb of Surrey in 2007. Dozens of other slayings followed, many of them retribution killings and commercial disputes between the UN and the associated members of the Red Scorpions, the Bacon brothers who used to be members of the UN gang. But the conflict between these gangs escalated dramatically after the UN gang along with the IS gang decided to move into the cocaine trade, a long domain of the Red Scorpion gang.
After initially failing to announce that they had a gang war on their hands, on March 6, 2009, the Vancouver police announced there is a gang war after making several arrests. In particular they have gone after the leadership of the UN and Red Scorpion gangs and closely monitoring the Bacon Brothers after they survived a rash of hits against them. In May, police arrested eight senior U.N. members, including the leader, Iraqi immigrant Barzan Tilli-Choli, on charges of conspiracy to kill the Bacon brothers, while Dennis Karbovanec a member of the Red Scorpions pleaded guilty to previous crimes. Since the arrest of the leadership, there has been a drop in violence but occasional violence does continue.
Gang shootings were the subject of intense media coverage in Vancouver in 2009. These events include:
- 20: Jamie Bacon's car shot at while driving through Abbotsford. Bacon was the subject of an unusual public warning issued by police earlier this year, suggesting anyone dealing with him could be at risk.
- 22: Forty-two-year-old man wounded in an apparent robbery at Abbotsford marijuana grow-operation.
- 23: Two men wounded by shots fired outside Abbotsford home.
- 24: Occupant of a Surrey home wounded by early-morning shots fired through door.
- 27: Andrew (Drew) Cilliers, 26, shot outside a home in what appeared to be a targeted attack.
- 29: William Peter Canning, 65, New Westminster resident, found slain in an east Vancouver apartment building.
- 2: James Ward Erickson, 25, shot in an apartment in Surrey.
- 3: Brianna Helen Kinnear, 22, found shot in a truck in Coquitlam.
- 3: Raphael Baldini, 21, shot in a busy parking lot in Surrey.
- 6: William Wayne Cloud, 19, fatally stabbed in a house.
- 6: Kevin LeClair, 26, Surrey man shot in the parking lot outside a Langley grocery store.
- 8: Man wounded in shooting in west-side Vancouver parking lot.
- 11: Nicholas Gordon Smith, 24, shot in the basement of a house.
- 12: Shots fired at a Burnaby home, no suspect found. Some suspect Babez Crew was involved.
- 16: Driver wounded after shots fired at SUV outside Surrey strip club; police later arrest five people, charge two with attempted murder.
- 16: Nicole Alemy killed in Surrey while driving husband's car with four-year-old son in back seat.
- 17: Shane Alan Messent, 24, shot while committing a home invasion.
- 22: Man known to police wounded in shooting in east Vancouver.
- 26: Cory Stephen Konkin, 30, shot in his car in Maple Ridge.
- 27: Man shot outside Surrey home in what police call targeted attack.
- 2: Sukhwinder Singh Dhaliwal, 32, found fatally shot.
- 3: Young woman killed and man wounded in shooting at Burnaby apartment.
- 3: Sunil Mall, 27, shot in his car in East Vancouver.
- 3: Shots fired in drive-by shooting outside suspected drug house in Surrey.
- 5: Man shot in drive-by shooting at Vancouver home.
- 10: Two men fatally shot in an apartment.
- 15: Laura Lynn Lamoureux, 36, gunned down in a Langley gutter early Saturday morning.
- 19: Marc Bontkes, 33, found fatally shot in the parking lot of Hi-Knoll Park.
- 30: Sean Murphy, 21, fatally shot in his car on Bateman Road and Latimer Street.
- 31: Ryan Richards, 19, fatally found in a field behind a produce store.
- 4: Unidentified man found fatally shot in an SUV.
- 6: Lionel Tan, 24, shot to death outside a gas station.
- 15: Betty Yan, 39, found fatally shot in a grey Mercedes at a dark industrial Richmond strip mall.
- 1: Joseph Randay, 18, and Dilsher Singh Gill, 17, were abducted and then fatally shot in an abandoned SUV.
- 12: Damon Michael Martin, 33, found fatally shot with a shotgun lying on a road in the Panorama Ridge area of Surrey.
- 16: Christopher Roy Whitmee, 34, fatally shot on 176 Street and 57th Avenue in Cloverdale, a town centre in Surrey. Another man was critically injured.
- 28: Sarjbit Nagra, 29, shot on a Maple Ridge street. Drove himself to hospital where he died of his injuries.
- 11: Jeffrey Qi Feng Bian, fatally stabbed in an 18th-floor Yaletown condominium.
- 30: Jaswant Rai, 36, found shot to death in an SUV on Mount Lehman Road between Townshipline Road and Downes Road.
- 13: Unidentified South Asian male found shot dead inside the A Canadian Autobody and Painting workshop in Surrey.
- 16: John William Hanna, 25, found dead in a burned-out car in Burnaby, killed in a targeted hit.
- ^ CBC.ca (2009-03-06). "Vancouver police change tactics in gang war". CBC. Vancouver. Retrieved 2009-03-06.
- ^ "There is a gang war and it is brutal". The Vancouver Sun. 2009-03-06.
- ^ a b c d e Murphy, Kim (2009-06-30). "Drug war on another border: Canada". The Los Angeles Times.
- ^ a b Traci Carl (March 10, 2009). "Progress in Mexico drug war is drenched in blood". Associated Press. Archived from the original on 2009-03-16. Retrieved 2012-03-26.
- ^ Murphy, Kim (2009-07-05). "Ahead of Olympics, 'brutal' gang war rattles Vancouver". Chicago Tribune.
- ^ CTV.ca (2009-03-06). "Vancouver police admit they have a gang war". CTV. Vancouver. Retrieved 2009-03-06.
- ^  Archived March 8, 2009, at Archive.is
- ^ "Two bodies discovered in Vcr apartment shooting as police seek public's help". The Canadian Press. March 10, 2009. Archived from the original on 2009-03-31. Retrieved 2012-03-26.
- ^ Katie Mercer (March 15, 2009). "Update: Woman fatally shot in Langley identified". canada.com. Archived from the original on March 23, 2009. Retrieved 2012-03-26.
- ^ "'Help us find who did this': Langley family". CTV News. 2009-03-21.
- ^ a b "2 men found dead in Abbotsford". CBC News. 2009-03-31.
- ^ "Man found shot dead in east Van parking lot". CBC News. 2009-04-06.
- ^ "Police identify man fatally shot at south Vancouver gas station". CBC News. 2009-04-07.
- ^ Bolan, Kim (2009-06-07). "B.C.'s gang war: Corporate hierarchies, innocent victims, out-of-control violence". Canada.com. Retrieved 2012-03-15.
- ^ "Police identify teens found dead in Abbotsford". CBC News. 2009-05-02.
- ^ "Police identify man shot to death in Surrey". CBC News. 2009-05-14.
- ^ "Double shooting in Surrey, B.C., leaves 1 dead, 1 injured". CBC News. 2009-05-17.
- ^ "Latest B.C. shooting fatality believed tied to drug war". CBC News. 2009-05-30.
- ^ "2 charged in fatal Yaletown massage parlour stabbing". CBC News. 2009-06-22.
- ^ "Abbotsford man shot in targeted hit: police". CBC News. 2009-06-30.
- ^ "Man shot dead at Surrey autobody shop". CBC News. 2009-07-14.
- ^ "Police ID body from Burnaby car fire". CBC News. 2009-07-20.
- ^ "Burnaby homicide victim's name released". The Province. July 23, 2009. Archived from the original on January 13, 2010. Retrieved 2012-03-26.