Facts About Organized Crime in Canada

Facts About Organized Crime in Canada

Organized crime impacts on the health, safety and well being of our society. From telemarketing fraud to car theft, from illegal trafficking to unlawful dumping of toxic waste, crime and violence impact on our way of life and on the livelihood of our citizens.

In recent years, organized criminal groups have become more complex and sophisticated, as have new types of crime, such as cyber-terrorism and Internet fraud.

The fight against organized crime was declared a national priority at the September 2000 meeting of Federal, Provincial and Territorial (FPT) Ministers Responsible for Justice. Ministers identified common priorities and agreed to develop partnerships at all levels of government. They also agreed that the most effective way to combat organized crime is to wage efforts on a number of fronts.

Eight National Policy Priorities have been identified in the fight against organized crime:

* Illegal Drugs;
* Outlaw Motorcycle Gangs;
* Economic Crime;
* High-tech Crime;
* Money Laundering;
* Illegal Migration & Trafficking in Human Beings;
* Corruption; and
* Street gangs.

Besides these National Priorities, certain areas of emerging or pressing concerns have also been identified:

* Intimidation of criminal justice actors;
* Gaming;
* Auto theft;
* Criminal activities related to diamond mining; and
* Presence of organized crime in ports.

Fulfilling Canada's public safety mandate requires more than developing or implementing crime-fighting measures. It requires public education, to ensure that Canadians have the facts they need about organized crime and to tell Canadians what governments are doing to address these issues.

To this end, Solicitor General Canada has produced a series of fact sheets that focus on select National Policy Priorities.

Organized Crime in Canada

"The organized criminal pursuit of profit needs to be recognized in all its forms along with its varied consequences. These consequences range from readily recognized violence and economic loss to the less easily quantified but no less important environmental, social and health and safety implications of some OC - related activities." - Porteous, S. (1998). Organized Crime Impact Study Highlights. Ottawa: Solicitor General Canada.

Organized crime is a major problem in all sizes and types of communities across Canada. Many of our social problems - drug-related burglaries, smuggled cigarettes, telemarketing scams, juvenile prostitution, or other illegally financed activities - are linked to organized crime. These crimes translate into higher costs, unmet human potential, and compromised public safety.

Canadians are familiar with reported stories of organized criminals engaged in turf wars in public areas, including murders of prison guards, of innocent victims, and of gang members by rival gangs. Tactics include intimidating targeted public officials, law enforcement officers, witnesses, jurors, journalists and other citizens.

Organized crime also threatens to undermine the integrity of Canada's borders. The smuggling of people, often under dangerous conditions, threatens human lives and compromises border controls needed to ensure an orderly, safe and secure society. An estimated 16,000 individuals are smuggled into Canada every year.

Canada's economy is also susceptible to the influence of organized crime. Money laundering - a process in which "dirty" money, procured through criminal activity, is transformed into "clean" money, of which the criminal origin is difficult to trace - is an ongoing problem in Canada. It is estimated that each year, between $5 and $17 billion are laundered in Canada.

Businesses and industries that routinely deal with large sums of money, including financial institutions, life insurance companies, casinos, legal, accounting and real estate firms, are susceptible to infiltration by terrorist groups and organized crime syndicates.

Whether it's money laundering, car theft, human smuggling or illegal trafficking, these activities associated with organized crime come with a significant social and economic price tag. In fact, economic crime alone is estimated to cost Canadians at least $5 billion every year.

While the costs can only be estimated, they exact a heavy toll in terms of:

* Acts of violence or intimidation in our communities;
* Diminished quality of life;
* Compromised personal security;
* Disruption of family life; and
* Elevated health-care costs linked to drug abuse and related illnesses, like HIV and Hepatitis.

Domestic actions against organized crime

In the last five years alone, the Government of Canada has taken a number of measures on the domestic front to strengthen the ability of law enforcement to pursue criminal organizations, and to strengthen border security.

* An Act to amend the Criminal Code (organized crime and law enforcement) and to make consequential amendments to other Acts (2002)
o Came into force January 2002.
o Includes three new offences and tough sentences that target involvement with criminal organizations.
o Simplifies the Criminal Code definition of a criminal organization.
o Includes new measures to protect those who play a role in Canada's criminal justice system, and their families, from intimidation.

* Financial Transactions and Reports Analysis Centre of Canada (FINTRAC) (2000)
o Enacted in 2000.
o Created the FINTRAC to help law enforcement investigate and prosecute money-laundering offenders.
o Makes it mandatory to reporting suspicious financial transactions by certain identified entities.
o Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (2002)
o Became law on June 28, 2002.
o Replaces the former 25-year-old Immigration Act.
o Creates a new offence for human trafficking, with penalties of up to life in prison and/or a $1 million fine.
o Allows courts to order the forfeiture of money and the seizure of property from traffickers and smugglers.

* Intensive Federal Prosecution Strategy against organized crime
o Ensures increased co-ordination between investigators and prosecutors.
o Ensures more effective investigations and prosecutions.
o Takes into account complex legal environment in which investigations of criminal organizations take place.

* New Extradition Act (1999)
o Came into force in 1999.
o Expands Canada's capacity to extradite.
o Responds to borderless crimes, i.e. organized crime, deceptive telemarketing and Internet fraud.

* Amendments to Corrections and Conditional Release Act (1999)
o Amended in 1999.
o Act ensures that people convicted of offences related to organized crime are no longer eligible for accelerated parole review.

* Controlled Drugs and Substances Act (1997)
o Enacted in 1997.
o Modernized Canada's drug laws.
o Provides exemptions for peace officers and persons acting under their direction when investigating money laundering or proceeds of crime offences.
o Provides exemptions to the same persons when dealing with the restraint and forfeiture of offence-related property.

* An Act to amend the Criminal Code (criminal organizations) and to amend other Acts in consequence (1997)
o Enacted in 1997
o Introduced into law the concepts of a criminal organization, criminal organization offences.
o Expanded investigative powers of police and enhanced their ability to protect the public.

* Criminal Law Improvement Act (1997)
o Featured more than 140 amendments to modernize Canada's justice system.
o Gave police new powers to help them deal with gang members and gang-related offences.

International Action Against Organized Crime

Canada works in partnership with other countries in shared efforts to fight organized crime and other cross-border and trans-national crimes. Highlights of Canada's international efforts include:

* United Nations Convention Against Transnational Organized Crime
o In 2000, Canada played a leadership role in the development of the UN Convention Against Transnational Organized Crime.
o It provides a shared framework and legal tools to enhance cooperation among countries.
o By May 2002, 15 countries, including Canada, had ratified the main convention, and there were over 140 signatory countries.

* Canada-U.S. Cross-Border Crime Forum
o Annual forum led by the Solicitor General of Canada and the United States Attorney General.
o Examines issues and sets priorities to combat organized crime.
o Helps to build cooperation and information sharing.
o Focuses law enforcement efforts on cross-border crimes.

* Organized crime added to G8 agenda
o In 1995, as host of G8 Summit in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada added organized crime to G8 agenda of items for discussion.
o Since then, great strides have been made in the international fight against organized crime, e.g. UN Convention against Transnational Organized Crime and endorsement of G8 Recommendations on transnational crime by G8 Ministers of Justice and the Interior.

* Canada-U.S. Integrated Border Enforcement Teams (IBETs)
o First established in 1996, IBETs have evolved into a major law enforcement success and have effectively disrupted smuggling rings; confiscated illegal drugs, weapons, liquor, tobacco, vehicles; and made numerous arrests.
o IBETs will continue to enhance border integrity and security at our shared border by identifying, investigating and interdicting persons and organizations that pose a threat to national security or are engaged in other organized criminal activities.
o Composed of police, customs and immigration officials from both countries.
o Teams work with local, state, and provincial enforcement agencies.
o The 2001 budget allocated $135 million to the RCMP to enhance and expand IBETs over the next five years, and they are now operational in 11 of the 14 planned geographical areas. It is anticipated that IBET units will be fully deployed in all 14 planned geographical areas by the first half of 2003.

Source: http://www.justice.gc.ca/en/ps/eval/reports/04/mcoc/mcoc_6.html