You don`t know what`s going on in these big houses .. in Vancouver it could be gang warsNov 8th, 2007 | By Dominic Berry | Category: Crime Stories
On Saturday, November 3 Hong Chao (Raymond) Huang was gunned down outside his mansion in Vancouver’s upscale Shaughnessy neighbourhood. Just three days before, on Halloween, Hiep Quang Do, had been killed at a restaurant on Victoria Drive. Then early on the morning of Tuesday, November 6, Ali Abhari and Ronal Shakeel Raj, out driving in a Silver Mercedes, were cut off by two SUVs on Granville Street at 70th Avenue and shot to death. A neighbour of Raymond Huang’s explained to the Vancouver Sun: “You don’t know what’s going on in a lot of these big houses.” But Mr. Huang was known in some quarters as a “leader in the … Big Circle Boys gang … connected to the crime syndicate’s operations in Toronto … as well as in Alberta and Vancouver.” Hiep Quang Do is said to have been “a player in the Vietnamese underworld, linked to the Big Circle Boys.” Mr. Abhari and Mr. Raj “were …. believed to have links to an emerging gang called the United Nations.” This is all just the tip of an iceberg, it seems. And it raises a lot of questions, in Vancouver and no doubt other parts of Canada too.
A Gang War in the Lower Mainland?
According to a November 7 editorial in the Vancouver Province: “Whatever the police choose to call it, we have a gang war in the Lower Mainland. The latest murders on Granville Street are reported to be the 18th and 19th gang-related killings this year in Metro Vancouver.”
According to the Vancouver Sun on Wednesday, November 7: “We’re obviously extremely concerned about this escalation of violence and potential for innocent victims to be hurt and killed,’ Vancouver police Deputy Chief Doug LePard told reporters Tuesday. I would not say it’s necessarily truly a gang war,’ he explained. There clearly is a conflict between two or more gangs right now…. It’s not a classic dispute between one gang trying to take over the territory of another gang.’”
The Sun has also published a map showing the 18 places that have so far been sites for “Lower Mainland targeted shootings 2007.” Some will of course say that so long as it is just criminal gang members killing other criminal gang members, the law-abiding general public need not worry unduly. Yet as the Province‘s November 7 editorial has noted, in 2007 in Vancouver: “Innocent civilians have been among the victims – notably two men executed in cold blood for being in the wrong place at the wrong time’ in Surrey two weeks ago.”
Similarly (perhaps), in the most recent case of Mr. Abhari and Mr. Raj: “Police sources say Abhari, the passenger and a mid-level drug dealer, was probably the target. Both men are believed to have been in a downtown club and on their way home … A friend of Raj’s told the Vancouver Sun that the 31-year-old native of Fiji was not involved in gang activity. He was a good friend to everyone and always wanted those around him to have a good time,’ said James Milacic … As for what the media says about it being a targeted incident, maybe for the other person, I doubt it was for Shakeel,’ Milacic said. Shakeel was a very kind and caring person. … The police are making him out to be a gang member, and I assure you, he is not ‘in’ a gang’ … Raj co-owned a Port Moody house assessed at $802,000, according to property records and leased a Cadillac Escalade, in addition to the Silver Mercedes in which he was killed.”
Whatever else, it is impossible not to be somewhat concerned about what looks quite a lot like some kind of quite serious criminal gang activity in Vancouver these days, even if you live in other parts of Canada, far away.
According to a November 7 report in the Vancouver Province: “At least four gang battles are raging in the Lower Mainland, a police expert said in the wake of a double killing early Tuesday morning … This is not one gang war. There are four gang wars,’ said the police officer, a Lower Mainland gang specialist, adding that a fifth war is also brewing … There are different battles raging for street-level drug profits,’ said the police source … Meanwhile, a high-ranking Vancouver officer yesterday called on the province to revisit the funding devoted to stopping gangs … We are overwhelmed with the number of people out there that are involved in drug trafficking and are involved in gun violence,’ said Deputy Chief Bob Rich.”
As of Thursday, November 8, the latest news is that: “Almost two dozen Metro Vancouver police chiefs and commanding officers turned up in force Wednesday to announce they will join Vancouver police to launch a regional attack against gang violence.”
The report carried on: “We have to stop the killing and safeguard the public,’ Vancouver police Chief Jim Chu said Wednesday in announcing the latest strategy aimed at quelling a recent spike of gang violence that has claimed four lives on Vancouver streets within a week and 19 so far this year across the region … Starting next week, the new Violence Suppression Team, whose officers will wear the title emblazoned on their jackets, will start aggressively getting in the faces’ of known gangsters at night clubs, their homes, their cars and their known hangouts region-wide.”
What does it all tell us about life in our big city regions today?
Political cynics will not be surprised that in a concurrent speech he just happened to be making to the Vancouver Board of Trade, Canada’s minority Prime Minister Stephen Harper “said the federal government’s core priorities … include tackling the growing problem of gun, gang and drug crime … The recent murders in Surrey and Shaughnessy only underscore why all of the national parties campaigned in favour of tougher laws against violent crime and why the public is so fed up with the soft-on-crime approach,’ he said.”
Then the prime minister went on to link gang wars in the Lower Mainland on the Pacific coast up with his narrower political objectives, way back east in Ottawa: “But in the first session of this minority Parliament,” he told the Vancouver Board of Trade, “the opposition parties held up five critical pieces of anti-crime legislation. This is unacceptable. That is why we have now tabled the Comprehensive Tackling Violent Crime Act and made it a measure of confidence.”
People closer to the ground where the “growing problem of gun, gang and drug crime” actually takes place might be excused for wanting to tear their hair out in quiet rage, when they hear this kind of sanctimonious political claptrap. Thus the local press has also been reporting that: “More policing is not the answer to the gang wars apparently being waged on Lower Mainland streets, according to Vancouver Mayor Sam Sullivan.”
The mayor went on: “Sullivan said .. that, while he has faith that the Vancouver Police Department will address the problem, enforcement is not the answer.’ As the Vancouver Police Department was announcing a new gang task force, Sullivan – who heads the police board – said the city instead needs more money from Ottawa.” The federal government is “cutting taxes – and, at the city level, we have to deal with the guns and gangs and drugs. We are very much pressured by our budgets,’ Sullivan said.”
Back not quite so far east as Ottawa, in the Greater Toronto Area city of Mississauga, moves are afoot which seem to point to a similar, if not exactly the same, broad local problem. There the local council, led by the redoubtable 80-something-year-old Mayor Hazel McCallion, has just added “an unprecedented 5 per cent surcharge to property taxes next year as the city tries to tackle … a fiscal crisis” in Canada’s urban centres, that federal finance minister Jim Flaherty has “ignored … in favour of cuts in the GST and income tax.”
You might think that this is just more self-serving political claptrap in its own right. But think about it all for just a minute longer. It is interesting to learn lurid details about such things as the Big Circle Boys, from the Mounties and other sources. Born back in the days of the Red Guards in China, they are now “arguably the largest, most expansive and successful triad” extant. Their current organization is “international in scope” and since ”first appearing in the United States in the early 1990s, it has set up cells in New York, Boston, Seattle, San Francisco, Los Angeles and Vancouver.” The organization is now said to be “responsible for importing much of the Southeast Asian heroin entering Canada – much of which is then smuggled into the United States – and is the source for many of the counterfeit credit cards used in North America.”
The main trouble is that these and many other similar increasingly wealthy thugs and mobsters, from a wide variety of backgrounds, have come to think that they can treat the streets and public spaces of our cities as their personal firing ranges – regardless of how many innocent bystanders get hurt, and so forth, on and on. And they are increasingly able to get away with this, because, in many different ways, the practical presence of what Canada’s Constitution Act 1867 calls “Peace, Order, and good Government” has grown increasingly weaker on our city streets – under increasing pressure from a mindless and pernicious political philosophy, which all too foolishly urges that the government which governs least is governing best.
The most appalling irony is that political leaders like Mr. Harper and Mr. Flaherty, who, as matter of highly misguided ideological (and they say even constitutional) principle, are systematically draining much-needed public funds away from urban local governments, are also claiming that they in fact have the right policies to address the “the growing problem of gun, gang and drug crime.” It is hardly any wonder that the sovereign people who live in Canada’s biggest city regions – and who have a much better practical grasp of what the current crime and gang warfare issue in these places is all about – will not vote for such political leaders.
Meanwhile, someone has to figure out how to get some serious hands on all the big money that Ottawa has these days, and put it to some solid use in the war against gang war, etc, etc, etc. Like “next week’s meeting of big-city mayors” from across the country in Mr. Flaherty’s home base of Oshawa, Ontario – and Mayor Hazel McCallion’s plans for a “national campaign – dubbed Cities NOW! – to pressure Ottawa to use its huge surplus to help urban centres.”
Tax cuts, tax cuts, and more tax cuts, from the narrow-minded and all too mean-spirited (to say nothing of increasingly obsolete) minority neo-con politicians in Ottawa, Ontario are just going to make the stalwart (if no doubt altogether crazy) criminals who run the Big Circle Boys, to say nothing of “an emerging gang called the United Nations,” laugh, and laugh, and laugh. The poorer and weaker our free and democratic governments are, the happier our criminals will be. Only people who live in very vast rural and rurban mansions, far from all madding urban crowds, can fail to see the plain truth of such simple propositions.