Winnipeg Free Press - ONLINE EDITION

Police report says African gang members becoming 'criminally savvy'

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WINNIPEG — Some of the 40-plus members of a Winnipeg street gang are travelling between cities in Western Canada in order to evade police, says a report by the Winnipeg Police Service Organized Crime Unit.

The report by Det. Ryan Howanyk estimates there are currently 40 to 50 members of the African Mafia street gang.

It's being submitted as evidence at a sentencing for Thon Guot and Mayen Madit.

The two are high-ranking gang members who were convicted of trafficking cocaine.

The Free Press reported this August both were accused of legally delaying their sentencing hearings to draw out their time on Canadian soil.

Both will be deported back to Africa once their sentences expire.

Though the African Mafia is not as organized as gangs like the Manitoba Hells Angels, Howanyk said the gang is "heavily submersed" in the city's drug trade and will continue to operate.

"Members and associates of the African mafia have adopted quickly and have learned through having contact with the police and being involved in the court process how to be more criminally savvy," says the report. It says police have difficulty dealing with gang's intimidation of victims and witnesses for fear of reprisal and a rule among members not to cooperate with officers.

It notes African Mafia members and associates live mainly in the city's downtown or West End, but some members live in areas like Fort Garry and Charleswood.

The report also notes that the African Mafia rivals another city street gang, B-Side. The two use different types of graffiti to mark out areas they consider to be their turf. Two new splinter groups have formed off the African Mafia due to internal conflicts, the report notes.

"These two new street gangs are primarily involved in drug trafficking and other criminal (activities)," says the report.

gabrielle.giroday@freepress.mb.ca

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