Violence caused by a feud between Lower Mainland gangs appears to have lulled after a series of brazen, public shootings that saw more than 20 people killed this year.
Many hope the silence is a sign that the warring resurgence has come to an end, but former Vancouver Police Insp. Michael Porteous, who worked to investigate gang-fueled crime for more than three decades, is urging caution.
“Most of the gang killings in this region go in cycles. There are peaks and valleys,” Porteous said, noting the last spate of noticeable shootings was in 2012.
That’s when Sandip Duhre, 36, of the Duhre Group – which controlled parts of the Fraser Valley drug trade at the time – was murdered in a hail of bullets at a downtown Vancouver restaurant.
It’s believed by the former investigator that Duhre’s murder may have been a tit-for-tat retaliation for the shooting that took the life of notorious Red Scorpion Jonathan Bacon, 30, in Kelowna the previous year.
Nowadays, the main gangs at play in the Lower Mainland are still the Red Scorpions and United Nations gang, Porteus said, and smaller criminal groups often make alliances with them.
Killing as a means of survival
“What’s happening is that gangsters become so hunted that they feel they have to eliminate their rivals before they get killed themself,” Porteus said.
“Then, when their rivals are taken down, gangs can claim their drug territory as their own.”
This was the case in 2007 when the leader of the Red Scorpions ordered a hit on a drug-dealing rival in Surrey during the province’s deadliest gang shooting to date.
Six men were gunned down at an apartment building. In court, Jamie Bacon said the Red Scorpions were forcing existing dealers to surrender their lines so they could take their turf.
Same gang war, younger players
What’s mainly different now is the age of the gang members, said Kash Heed retired West Vancouver Police Chief and former Solicitor General of B.C.
Previously, the average Lower Mainland gangster arrested was 25 to 28 years old. Nowadays, most of them are 19 to 20-years old and hungry to prove themselves through violence.
“Affluent or not, most of the Lower Mainland gang members killed and arrested the most are of South Asian descent. Many of them still live at home with mom and dad,” Heed said, adding that gangsters killed leave a void easily filled by up-and-comers.
Carrying out a successful hit gives the young members instant credibility.
Violence spills into Alberta
The latest act of violence stemming from Lower Mainland gang activity is the death of 25-year-old Gurkeert Kalkat in Calgary on May 22. Police said he was a member of the Brothers Keepers gang.
“There is a good probability that these offenders travelled to Calgary with the sole purpose of committing this homicide,” said Staff Sgt. Martin Schiavetta of the city’s homicide unit.
His death played out much like that of his younger brother, Jaskeert Kalkat, 23, who was killed by a spray of gunfire in the parking lot of a Burnaby strip mall nine days prior.
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