Pubdate: Mon, 30 May 2005
Source: Fort McMurray Today (CN AB)
Copyright: 2005 Fort McMurray Today
Author: Patrick Morley And The Canadian Press


Fort McMurray Today -- Increased pressure on gangs in Alberta's
capital is forcing criminal organizations that deal drugs to expand
into rural areas including Fort McMurray, says the province's Criminal
Intelligence Service.

In its newly released annual report on organized crime, the agency
warns of major growth in gang activity outside major cities.

The spread in northern Alberta is attributed to pressure on gang
members in Edmonton. The report said "competition for resources and
customers" is peaking in the capital city.

"This state of affairs, coupled with police pressure, has resulted in
the expansion of several Edmonton gangs to smaller communities within
the province," the report said.

Fort McMurray "has experienced an influx of organized crime groups
linked to the growing drug trade," the report said, which is not news
to local RCMP Inspector Peter Clark.

"We experience a number of serious investigations relating to
homicides, robberies and assaults that we believe to be associated
with organized crime," Clark said.

The ability of the local RCMP to respond to these crimes is of major
concern to Clark, who said public safety is his "utmost concern." "We
need additional resources to fight this because (organized crime) is
already here," he said.

Clark had not yet read the report this morning, but is already well
versed in the problems associated with the influx of organized crime.
"These issues are near and dear to the detachment here," he said.

In a visit to the Oilsands City earlier in the month, Alberta's
Solicitor General Harvey Cenaiko said there's another reason why
organized crime is spreading north to Fort McMurray.

"Anytime a community grows there are financial resources available
because of salary and industry and it will attract criminals,"
explained Cenaiko. "There's lots of money here, and lots of criminal
activity here."

A new organized crime task force is in the works for Alberta, Cenaiko
said, that will take crime fighting to a new level.

"Sixty officers to gather intelligence and to find the issues," said
Cenaiko. "Combined with a street team and undercover police, we're
going after it."

Solicitor General spokeswoman Annette Bidniak said the province has
already responded to the concerns cited by the Criminal Intelligence
Service of Alberta, which counts all major police forces among its
member agencies.

"We have more than doubled the number of police officers dedicated to
battling organized crime," Bidniak said.

The report said the Indian Posse street gang has built drug networks
on the Hobbema reserve and in Fort McMurray, Grande Prairie and Peace

The Posse, however, is losing power and prestige to the Redd Alert
native street gang, the report notes.

Redd Alert is active in Edmonton, Fort McMurray, the Hobbema reserves,
as well as Regina and North Battleford, Sask.
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