Sunday, April 18

Criminal Intelligence Service Canada Report | Organized crime has adapted to the pandemic

Even if the activities of criminal organizations have been disrupted since the start of the pandemic, they have adapted, exploited new territories, diversified their operations and were nevertheless able to continue to fill their coffers, indicates the Public Report on Organized Crime in Canada 2020, released Thursday by the Criminal Intelligence Service Canada (CISC). Summary of the main findings.

Daniel RenaudDaniel Renaud

Marijuana: organized crime still present

Despite the Cannabis Act (2018), organized crime groups, including bikers, continued to have a strong presence in this market in 2020, even infiltrating the legal industry, say the report’s authors. These organizations used Health Canada’s medical marijuana program and thus cultivated government-approved crops, exceeded plant count limits and diverted that production to the illicit market. Organized crime is also involved in the legal industry through owners, employees or board members of legitimate businesses, or investment firms.

Fentanyl: no more fatal overdoses

The Criminal Intelligence Service Canada estimates that fentanyl – an opioid 40 times more potent than heroin – was the cause of more than 4,000 fatal overdoses in Canada in 2019. It anticipates that in 2020, the increase will be more by 50%. Those responsible for the report put the costs of health care, lost productivity, justice and other direct expenses at $ 6 billion per year. In 2020, the import of precursor products, especially from China, still continued despite the restriction measures put in place due to COVID-19, and large quantities continued to be produced. in Canada.

Less cocaine …

The ban on international flights, which allowed traffickers to negotiate in producing or transit countries, and border restrictions have disrupted imports of cocaine, whose price per kilogram increased in 2020 across Canada, conclude the authors of the report. However, they believe that criminal groups will turn to land transport to bring in their goods. They add that Canada would be used as a transit point to more lucrative markets, such as Australia and Europe, “because it is recognized internationally as a low risk country.” They also believe that Mexican cartels and Colombian organizations may feel that in Canada, money laundering laws “are not as tough” and the fight against drugs “not as tough” as in Canada. other countries.

… but no more methamphetamine

Since it has been more difficult for criminal groups to bring cocaine into the country, many have reportedly turned to methamphetamine. The report’s authors believe that precursor products used in its manufacture and methamphetamine produced in Mexico continued to enter the country in 2020, because modes of transport by land or sea were not particularly affected by the shutdown. borders caused by the pandemic. SCRC believes the pandemic has had limited effects on the supply of methamphetamine, even as prices have increased.

Infiltration of the public and private sectors

Three-Year Analysis (2018-2020) Finds Private Sector Firms Most Infiltrated By Organized Crime Are In Accommodation And Food Services, Retail, Transportation, Warehousing And Construction . The SCRC estimates that between 45 and 113 billion dollars is laundered each year in Canada by infiltration in the private sector. Criminal organizations are increasingly turning to professionals for money laundering. Those who use bars, restaurants and casinos have a harder time operating in 2020 compared to those who use money transfers, business transactions and cryptocurrency. Even if the authors cannot quantify it and do not give a concrete example for 2020, they fear that the pandemic will become “fertile ground” for the infiltration of the public sector by organized crime.

Sprawling Hells Angels

The authors of the report do not name him, but they are targeting an outlaw biker group whose ranks have grown by 14% since 2016 nationally and internationally, and it is the Hells Angels. They have reportedly seen their activities disrupted during the pandemic due to the ban on gatherings and travel, which limits networking opportunities. But hiking and other activities will gradually resume in areas where the rules will be relaxed, predicts the SCRC. The latter counted 150 motorcycle clubs in Canada in 2020.

The mafia in the shadows

SCRC believes the Mafia has likely lost revenue due to the pandemic. He fears that she may take advantage of the downturn in the economy to exploit bankrupt business owners by making usurious loans and extortion. Debt collection is said to have increased in Quebec in 2020, as several Mafia-related companies have been the target of arson, say the authors of the report. They believe that the Mafia could be increasingly involved in markets that target products in demand, such as companies that manufacture disinfectant or personal protective equipment, and which could be used for bleaching purposes. ‘silver.

Street gang shootings

Fewer than 200 murders and 1,000 firearms offenses were committed by members of organized criminal groups in Canada in 2020. CISC estimates that 97% of street gangs (this is the term used in the report) are involved in violent activities. The authors point out that following the first wave of COVID-19 and the relaxation of health measures, “shootings became more frequent in the greater Montreal area and did not decrease during the second wave” . The authors of the report fear that when measures affecting interprovincial travel are relaxed, there could be a resumption of acts of violence involving members of street gangs who commute between Quebec and Ontario.

To reach Daniel Renaud, dial 514 285-7000, extension 4918, write to [email protected] or write to the postal address of Press.

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