Pubdate: Fri, 07 May 2010
Source: Langley Advance (CN BC)
Copyright: 2010 Lower Mainland Publishing Group Inc.
Author: Matthew Claxton


"The loyalty is to the money," said a Langley RCMP officer who 
investigates drug-dealing gangsters.

To understand the gangs that send bullets flying in Langley in recent 
years, you have to understand their business.

"Their whole business revolves around drugs," said Sgt. Jason Wilde, 
head of the Langley RCMP Drug Section. "Their whole organizations are 
fuelled by the drug trade."

Gangs control the street-level distribution of drugs such as cocaine, 
heroin, and methamphetamine across the Lower Mainland.

Wilde sat down with the Langley Advance recently to talk about 
dial-a-dope operations, the bread and butter of gang life.

Before cellphones became ubiquitous, dealers had to stick to 
particular spots and let their customers find them.

Now, drug dealers pass out numbers, usually by word of mouth, and 
buyers call at any time of the day or night.

A meeting is arranged, and the drugs trade hands.

The dial-a-dope business has taken a few strange turns over the 
years, including a phase in which a group called Dark Alley actually 
handed out business cards with their phone numbers.

Dark Alley was dismantled and several of its members served time in prison.

"We don't see the business cards too often anymore," Wilde said.

Controlling any piece of turf has become difficult for gangs.

"Now you can be in North Vancouver and run Langley," Wilde said.

The street-level trade is hazardous, and those at the bottom are in a 
great deal of danger on a day-to-day basis.

At the bottom rung of the chain are the runners.

A runner makes the quick, hand-to-hand deals of drugs for cash or 
stolen property.

Armed with cheap pre-paid cellphones, runners often move around in 
cars or on bicycles.

Many are young, wannabe gang members.

"They take the most risk of being arrested, [and] they take the most 
risk of getting ripped [having their sale goods and/or money stolen 
by competing criminals]," Wilde said.

The danger of being attacked by rival gang members is far worse than 
the danger of being caught by police.

Rivals will get the phone number, arrange to meet a runner, then rob, 
assault, or kidnap them.

Death is also a possibility.

One of the murders of 2009 (see page A3) was the shooting of Laura 
Lynn Lamoureux, 36, near Sendall Gardens in Langley City.

Wilde couldn't talk about the murder investigation, being handled by 
IHIT, but he said Lamoureux was a very low-level cog in the local 
drug business.

After an arrest or robbery, the problems for the street-level dealer 
only get worse.

Wilde recalls a case his unit investigated last year. Dealers who 
were arrested or robbed were actually being beaten by their own bosses.

The runners are expected to pay back anything they lose, often with a 
"tax" on top of that.

Most runners never move up, and many start using their own product.

"That usually turns bad for them," Wilde said.

Shortages resulting from runners using the drugs they have for sale 
can lead to shortfalls, which result in beatings and "taxes."

Those overseeing the runners are known as managers.

Managers are more closely tied to specific gangs such as the UN, the 
Red Scorpions, or the Independent Soldiers.

Above the managers are the true core gang members.

The core gang members get their drugs delivered by the kilogram, and 
provide them to the managers to package and distribute.

At this level in the hierarchy, the gang members avoid doing any 
personal, hands-on work with drugs.

Wilde said there really isn't a single figure at the top of most 
gangs - not a single person who runs everyone below him.

"Everybody has a boss," a source in the gang world once told Wilde.

At the very top level, everyone still has partners to answer to.

On rare occasions, runners may move up the ladder and become 
full-fledged gang members.

Wilde said he has seen gangsters come up through the ranks, usually 
starting as teenagers committing petty crimes such as break-and-enters.

"A lot of these guys, you can see from a very young age they're 
headed that way," Wilde said.

One of the Dark Alley leaders began his career breaking into homes in Langley.

Once they've started moving in criminal circles, the teenagers are 
recruited as runners.

If those young people can be caught early by authorities, they can be 
turned around, Wilde said.

Wait too long, however, and it can be too late.

"If you get too far into it, you can't necessarily walk away," Wilde explained.

Although people can't walk away from the gang life once they've 
gotten into it, many runners and managers and even gang members and 
affiliates will suddenly switch their allegiance from one gang to another.

"The loyalty is to the money," Wilde said.
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