Pubdate: Fri, 09 Dec 2005
Source: Prince George Free Press (CN BC)
Copyright: 2005 BC Newspaper Group
Author: Arthur Williams
Bookmark: (Cannabis - Canada)
Bookmark: (Cocaine)


The recent sentencing of Richard Allan Scurr, 23, alleged leader of
The Crew - a Prince George organized crime group with links to the
Vancouver Hell's Angels Nomads outlaw motorcycle gang -for possession
of narcotics for the purpose of trafficking has put the city's
organized crime problem into the spotlight.

Scurr was sentenced, Dec. 5, to seven months in prison and two years
probation. Judge Weatherly ordered the Surrey native to stay out of
Prince George for those two years.

Scurr's co-accused - Bernard Joseph Schneider, 43, of Prince George -
is scheduled for trial at a later date.

"The Crew are a group of young guys from the lower mainland. They
literally came up here to rape, loot and pillage. They've used
intimidation and violence and have just taken over houses," Sgt. Tom
Bethune said. "The jailing of Robert Scurr will have a minimal effect
on The Crew. They'll just replace him."

Bethune leads a Prince George RCMP task force which targets drugs and
property crimes. Fighting organized crime is a major part of their
job, he said.

The high-profile arrest of Renegades leader William James Moore -
along with nine other Renegades and Hell's Angels Nomads members - in
January, however, did significantly hurt the Renegades, Bethune said.

The arrests were the result of a 20-month undercover investigation
between Prince George RCMP and Vancouver Police. In March, Moore was
found murdered near his Salmon Valley home after being released on

The Crew are a relatively new addition to the organized crime scene in
Prince George, Bethune said, and selling crack cocaine is their
primary business.

"They could only do that with the agreement of the Renegades," he
said. "The Renegades is a puppet organization of the Hell's Angels. It
all flows back to the Hell's Angels in Vancouver."

The Renegades' core business is selling marijuana and powder cocaine,
he said, but both organizations are directly and indirectly involved
in prostitution, theft and money laundering. Both have ruthlessly
driven competitors out of the Prince George market.

"No one in Prince George can sell [illegal] drugs without permission
of the Hell's Angels," he said. "There was five homicides last year
that are tied to organized crime out of seven."

Both groups answer to a single Hell's Angel in Vancouver through a
series of middlemen, Bethune added.

The Crew sell directly to the street, which increases the profit
margin and the risk of getting caught, Bethune said. The Renegades use
intermediaries to actually sell the drugs and hence take less risks.

Drugs is a multi-million dollar business in Prince

"It's a very low amount what we actually confiscate and seize. At
street level, a single dose of crack cocaine goes for $20. We had
given to us from the airport [security] a seven kilogram shipment of
crack cocaine," Bethune said. "Are they making money? Sure they are.
It's huge."

There are challenges which make it difficult for police to investigate
and break up organized crime, he said, and criminal groups are very
good at exploiting them.

"Money is being laundered through legitimate businesses here in Prince
George," Bethune said. "We can't put up a sign saying, 'This business
launders money.'"

Criminal gangs prey on people's greed, fear and desperation to prevent
them from speaking out to police, he said.

"We can only enforce the tools and laws we have - from Ottawa right
down to the municipal level," Bethune said. "We need people to help
us. They can't run a crack shack unless they have a landlord who turns
a blind eye."

The higher up in the chain a person is, the harder it is to catch
them, he said.

"These investigations can be very time consuming and it takes a long
time to get a search warrant. It can take weeks of surveillance and
developing sources to get a warrant," Bethune said. "The criminals
know that and by the time we bust a crack shack, they already have
another one." 
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