(This column was published in the North Shore News on Feb. 21, 2001)

 

Organized crime hits close to home

By Leo Knight

LAST month's shooting of North Vancouver's Rossano Valentino "Wally" Dekanich shows how organized crime can penetrate even the quietest of neighbourhoods.  

 

Sometimes, when living on the North Shore, it is easy to feel smug about all you have and there is a tendency to retreat into a cocoon, putting all of the urban problems of living in the third largest city in the country behind you.  

 

But the reality of criminal life in this day and age refuses to let any of us put our head in the sand and shrug off organized crime.  

 

Dekanich was a lot of things undoubtedly. While not a stockbroker per se, it appears he was something of a promoter, a deal maker. And, it seems from the results of the Mounties' investigation into the circumstances under which he met his untimely demise, it was his penchant for raising money for various deals that led to his slaying.

 

He lived in a family-oriented townhouse complex near Capilano College. And he died there.  

 

Despite having a reputation as a local Lothario, it was not his promiscuous peccadilloes which would prove to be his undoing. Although, to be fair, his roving ways were to send North Van RCMP down many a dead end in their investigation. But rather, it was a question of whom he was doing business with.  

 

Sometimes, you see, when you are prepared to climb into bed with the devil, you have to be prepared for the possibility of the devil rolling over on you.  

 

When most people make an investment, they hope to make a profit. Sometimes, they hope to make a big profit. If the deal does not work out and money is lost, that's the way it is. Win some and you lose some.  

 

But that's not the case with organized criminals. They get into deals essentially to launder their ill-gotten booty. Losing it is not an option.  

 

While the police investigation is still ongoing and it must be said that developed evidence is a long way from a conviction, it is clear that Wally Dekanich got into the wrong game with the wrong people. And when he couldn't pay back lost money, his life became forfeit.  

 

You see, organized crime is, in my view, the single biggest threat to our country today, in all of its ugly forms -- whether we are talking about something as simple as the extra interest points we all pay on our credit cards or their potential to literally collapse our economic system as we know it.  

 

Yes, they have that power and that kind of money.  

 

I write frequently about organized crime. I do that because I firmly believe this is an insidious threat to our country and our community.  

 

Dekanich was the victim of organized crime. He was killed as a result of a contract taken out on his life by an individual who worships at the altar of a greenback and not the sanctity of life.  

 

And he is just the latest of a series of victims of organized crime who resided in our community, in our "safe" neighbourhoods. Be they bikers, Mafia hoods or Asian gangsters, they live, do business and sometimes kill on our streets.  

 

That is the reality of organized crime today. It is no longer someone else's problem or something that doesn't affect us.  

 

It is, to put it bluntly, our problem. Right here, right now.

 

-30-

 

 

 

 

Primetimecrime current headlines             Columns 2001