Thu, Feb 19, 2009 - Page 7 News List

Vancouver gang violence spikes


With its Winter Olympic Games less than a year away, Vancouver-area police are struggling to deal with an unprecedented wave of murders, Canada’s public safety minister said.

Peter Van Loan spoke at a press conference on Tuesday in Vancouver, British Columbia, just a few hours before one man was gunned down and another was wounded in the city’s east end. The man is the sixth person to die in shootings in the region in the past month.

In 2007, there were 55 homicides in the Vancouver area, 19 of which were gang-related, Statistics Canada said.

Van Loan called the recent gang violence the worst in Canada.

“Vancouver and British Columbia are the focus of the largest number of organized-crime gang groups in Canada,” he said. “These are very sophisticated criminal organizations that are particularly violent. It’s something you’d want to worry about whether you have the Olympics coming or not.”

Vancouver is a major import and export point for the international illegal drug trade and the city’s recent violence centers around that trade, Van Loan said.

Criminologist Rob Gordon said gangs have become far more brazen in the past few months, gunning down people in public.

“They’re hitting people in broad daylight in shopping centers,” he said.

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