This crisp region of polished high-rises, emerald spruce, azure waterways and feel-good vibes finds itself in the midst of a gang war that has killed at least 18 young people this year.How could marijuana be a problem in pot-tolerant Canada? It's harmless!
Drug dealers are gunning down women (one in a car with her 4-year-old son in the back seat), high school students with no gang allegiances and, especially, one another, in broad daylight in and around the city that will host the 2010 Winter Olympics.
It got so bad this spring that police erected concrete barriers outside the homes of two gangsters to slow down potential drive-by assassins.
"Let's get serious. There is a gang war, and it's brutal. What we have seen are new rules of engagement for the gangsters," Vancouver's chief police constable, Jim Chu, told reporters in March.
Authorities trace the violence to the recent government crackdown on cocaine traffickers in Mexico, which has squeezed profit margins for cocaine north of the U.S. border.
Canada's outlaw retailers are fighting to the death over market share, police say, a situation exacerbated by personal vendettas and power vacuums left by the arrests of gang leaders.
"The war in Mexico directly impacts on the drug trade in Canada. . . . There's a complete disruption of the flow of cocaine into Canada, and we are seeing the result," said Pat Fogarty, operations officer for the Combined Forces Special Enforcement Unit, British Columbia's main law enforcement agency targeting organized crime.
The province became an important player in the Mexican cocaine marketplace in part by bartering its powerful home-grown marijuana, "B.C. Bud," which helps fuel what is estimated to be a $6.3-billion-a-year industry.
Thursday, July 2, 2009
And the Drug War spreads north
According to the Los Angeles Times, drug-related violence is becoming a bigger problem in Vancouver, British Columbia: