Pubdate: Thu, 18 Mar 2004 Source: Asian Pacific Post, The (CN BC) Copyright: 2004 The Asian Pacific Post. Contact: http://www.asianpacificpost.com/ Details: http://www.mapinc.org/media/2909 DISORGANIZED JUSTICE NO WAY TO FIGHT ORGANIZED CRIME In northern B.C., a major international drug investigation has gone bust after a court allowed three suspected traffickers to go free following a massive police operation. The judge said RCMP investigators spied on the crime syndicate illegally and the surveillance tapes, if allowed in court, would taint the justice system. Six months ago, another multi-million dollar investigation into an Asian drug cartel so powerful that police said it could stockpile heroin and dictate the street price of the drug in North America - collapsed in Victoria. Its members, who had connections to underground banks in Hong Kong and the poppy fields of Burma, did not hesitate to eliminate obstructions. One of them, a loan shark banned from B.C. casinos was also brazen enough to have his picture taken with the former premier, Glen Clark, while seeking to open a casino. Others recruited Asian school kids at bowling alleys to become gang members while paying waiters and waitresses in B.C. restaurants to swipe credit cards. They were contract killers, counterfeiters and heroin importers working in an organization whose tentacles reached around the world. When police in B.C. announced they had busted the group in 1999, it was hailed as one of the most significant successes against an Asian-based organized crime group operating in Canada. B.C. Supreme Court judge Dean Wilson said while the gang had nothing but contempt for the laws of Canada, police conduct in obtaining evidence against the accused was so inappropriate that none of the evidence could be used against them at the trial. Last month, two massive court cases stemming from Alberta's largest drug sweep crumbled, as Crown prosecutors announced all remaining 19 prosecutions have been dropped. Charges against the 19 people alleged to be members of the Trang gang - after province wide raids in 1999 -- were tossed due to delays providing defence lawyers with copies of evidence. Costs to police, lawyers, and Alberta Justice since the raids is an estimated $36 million. Defence lawyers pocketed $23.7 million in public money, federal lawyers spent $5.6 million on the prosecution, and RCMP and Edmonton city police estimate it cost them $4.6 million. And Alberta Justice spent $2.1 million building a special courtroom at the Edmonton Law Courts to handle what was expected to be a mega-trial. Four years ago, a similar mega-trial in Winnipeg involving 35 alleged members of the Manitoba Warriors street gang also collapsed. This was a test case involving Canada's anti-gang legislation. The annals of organized crime in Canada are littered with botched court cases like those above. While the initial reaction is to use the judgments and attack police for being underhanded, it is becoming increasingly evident that our wigged wonders have little or no clue about the tactics employed by organized crime syndicates. While admitting they are dealing with some of the world's biggest gangsters in their courtrooms, they don't seem to think they have a responsibility to keep the thugs behind bars , all because some cop somewhere did not get permission to listen in on a conspiracy. Worldwide, Canada has a reputation as a country that is soft on crime, and those who come here from elsewhere to pursue their criminal opportunities truly have very little to fear. For that you can thank our judges, who in their unabashed desire to maintain so-called judicial integrity, have lost their reality checks Do they actually think that Joe Public, whose home insurance has gone through the roof because of the marijuana grow-operations on his street, will object to a cop acting fast, without court permission, to bust the ganja farmers. We are not by any means advocating that police should be given full licence to go after whomever they want, whenever they want without guidelines. What is needed in the system is a specialized court and specialized prosecutors and judges who deal with organized crime. This will allow judges to understand how organized crime works and why they may have to sometimes suspend certain rights to allow police to effectively get rid of the menace. Prosecutors should also be involved in the investigative stages while police can apply for warrants directly from the judges and put an end to disclosure worries. This will curtail the extraordinary and unreasonable encumbrances, demands and impositions on police and provide for a cohesive approach from inception to investigation to conviction. The disorganized administration of justice is no way to fight organized crime.