Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 9/7/2011 (3726 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
So it appears we have a gang war on our hands. A Montreal-style Rock Machine versus Hells Angels blow-em-up kill fest. This here is big-boy gang fighting, not like the amateur North End drive-by nonsense perpetrated by wanna-be gang bangers wearing hoodies and DC sneakers.
How could this have happened? Well, son, it all started back in February 2006 with something called Project Defense. The Manitoba Integrated Organized Crime Task Force, along with the RCMP, Winnipeg Police Service and Brandon Police Service, conducted raids and arrested 13 people including high-ranking Hells Angel Ian Matthew Grant. To accomplish this task, they paid an informant with a "less-than-savoury background" over half a million dollars.
Then in December 2007, Defense was followed up by Project Drill, in which there were 18 arrests, made possible by paying an informant $650,000 plus expenses, according to court records.
Despite all these arrests, crime continued to escalate. "Many legal experts believe a subsequent rise in Winnipeg street gang crime over the past two years was triggered by the fall of the Hells Angels and an ongoing battle to fill the void and make lucrative profits from the sale of drugs," wrote Mike McIntyre and Jennifer Pawluk in 2009.
Perhaps if we made the void larger that might help. December 2009 was Project Divide, which netted more arrests than the other two combined: 35. Once again, assistance was obtained by purchasing the services of a "longtime criminal" for "at least $500,000 of tax-free money."
Now, in 2011, after paying criminals over $1,650,000 for their assistance and hundreds of thousands more in court costs and witness protection costs, the Hells Angels have been sufficiently neutered to allow the Rock Machine to make a play for our drug market. Hence the shoot-ups and fire bombings.
This was not unforeseeable. I recall some people predicting this outcome back when Project Divide was carried out. Much like overthrowing a corrupt Middle Eastern government, unless you can replace it with something better, you risk, in fact, making things worse.
22222Pros: Less violence in the longer term, less money spent on informants, prosecutors and attorneys.
Cons: Continued violence in the short term, and uninhibited flow of illegal drugs into the community
2222Pros: Maybe ... just maybe ... the gangs will get the message that Winnipeg is not open for illegal drug business and they will stop trying to infiltrate our city.
Cons: But more likely, we will spend millions of dollars and have continued violence on our streets
2222Pros: easier access to drugs! Wait, I think that's a con. 'K, forget that.
Pros: Remove the demand for illegal drugs, thereby permanently neutering the gangs via market forces; increased tax base with sin taxes on newly legalized drugs.
Cons: Easier access to drugs. Potential for crippling trade with the U.S.
Tough choices ... What's your favourite option?
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