(This column was published in the North Shore News on Mar. 7, 2001)


Glorification of crime has consequences

By Leo Knight

THERE is a disturbing trend of violence that seems to be saturating an element of our youth these days.  


Last Friday night in Calgary, a 17-year-old youth was shot in the aftermath of a fight at a house party.  


The same night, about 100 kilometres up the road in Bowden, a young man of just 21 years was stabbed to death in an apparent disagreement with his roommate.  


Would that these were random incidents! But they're not.  


Last week North Vancouver RCMP recovered a gun during a search warrant. The gun was allegedly in the possession of a young man barely out of his teens. It had, according to police, been used in a home invasion. One of two in the area in the past month.  


These are not the schoolyard punch-ups of our youth. Quite the contrary, these are the ramifications of a society which has little or no consequences for criminal actions.


But, they are also the product of a society which has allowed the elements of crime to flourish. Which, for some bizarre reason, holds up the gangster of today to some degree of celebrity.  


Some kids on our streets carry guns, knives and machetes to bully others. They use violence to punctuate their threats, extortions and robberies.  


They have all been in and out of the justice system since they were barely in their teens.  


Some before that, even. And nothing has really happened to them despite their many brushes with the law.  


Worse yet, they see on TV, on the streets and in the movies, the bikers, the gangsters, the very antithesis of what we should value and cherish.  


Some of them want to be like them.  


These guys have it all, don't they? The biker from the hard streets of East Vancouver now sits high on the hill in the British Properties.  


They drive the best cars, have lots of money and best of all, everyone is afraid of them.  


They don't have to work their tails off every day like the rest of us.  


And some kids on our streets think that is what they want. And you know what else?  


That is exactly what they will get. As long as our justice system and our government will not step in and say, "No!"  


It's a mystery to me why society makes heroes out of people like John Gotti or "Mom" Boucher. They achieve a level of fame most politicians or actors never see. Why?  


Why do we stick our heads in the sand and try to pretend that organized crime does not affect us?  


It is literally stealing our children off the streets.  


Last week the story of an 11-year-old girl working as a prostitute on the seedy streets of the Downtown Eastside shocked this city.  


Why? This is nothing new. Who do you think is responsible for "recruiting" these young girls? Where do you think the drugs come from that are used to make these kids compliant?  


How powerful are these people? Last week, in a joint project, the Organized Crime Agency of B.C. (OCABC), the RCMP, and several U.S. forces intercepted a fishing vessel from Victoria carrying two thousand kilos of cocaine.  


Police on both sides of the border have stated the shipment was destined for Vancouver and the Hells Angels were behind it.  


Knowing how the Angels work, this is not a purchase made by the organization itself, but by a couple of members doing a deal. Just a couple of the 80 or so in the province.  


Well, let's do the math on this. A kilo of cocaine wholesales for about $35,000. That's not street retail. It's wholesale.  


Multiply the size of that shipment and you come up with a wholesale number of $70 million just to buy the dope from the source country. Never mind the shipping arrangements.  


The profits from landing such a shipment would be in the hundreds of millions.  


Now this is for just one deal and they are making deals big and small every day. And, not just drugs.  


There are grow-ops, prostitution, gambling, VLTs, gun smuggling, stock market frauds, you name it. If it's illegal and will make money, they will do it.  


This is a big money game. And precisely the reason why those wannabe gangsters in Lynn Valley are working their way up the ladder. Beats working for a living.  


The government of B.C. gives a paltry $14.1 million annually to fund the efforts of OCABC. Premier Dosanjh will try to tell you his government is serious about the fight against organized crime.  


He spends twice that amount in government advertising to tell us, with our own money, why his government is so wonderful.  


He should bloody well be ashamed of himself.






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