Fallout out from the recent government crackdown on cocaine smugglers in Mexico has spilled over to the Canadian border, affecting profit margins and leading to a gang war in the suburbs that has killed at least 18 young people this year, the Chicago Tribune reported June 30.
Canadian police officials said the country's drug dealers are fighting over market share, creating a situation that has been worsened by personal vendettas and power struggles left by the arrests of gang leaders.
“The war in Mexico directly impacts on the drug trade in Canada,” said Pat Fogarty, operations officer for the Combined Forces Special Enforcement Unit, British Columbia's main law enforcement agency targeting organized crime. “There's a complete disruption of the flow of cocaine into Canada, and we are seeing the result.”
The province became enmeshed in the Mexican cocaine drug trade in part by dealing its potent home-grown marijuana, “B.C. Bud,” which helps fund a multi-billion dollar industry.
The worst of the violence — which included the deaths of gang members, high school students with no gang allegiances, and women, including one who had her 4-year-old son in the back seat — can be traced to two feuding Fraser Valley gangs: the Red Scorpions and the multi-ethnic United Nations.
Law enforcement officials in British Columbia are trying to solve the gang problem before the Winter Olympics next year, which the province is hosting.
Residents of the idyllic province are concerned and fearful for their safety.
“You see it in movies and stuff, but you never think it's going to happen in your town,” said Mathea Angelica Sturm, a 17-year-old who started a Facebook page recently to memorialize the young people who have died. “Especially in Abbotsford. It was a pretty peaceful town, and then all of a sudden, it was like a big swoop of something came in.”