Pubdate: Thu, 18 Mar 2004
Source: Asian Pacific Post, The (CN BC)
Copyright: 2004 The Asian Pacific Post.


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 

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.