Pubdate: Mon, 11 Apr 2016
Source: Calgary Herald (CN AB)
Copyright: 2016 Postmedia Network
Author: Reid Southwick
Page: 6


More violence expected as gangs fight for control of illicit market

Two southern Alberta communities can expect an increase in violence
waged by two rival gangs - prone to use machetes and hatchets - that
are clashing for control of turf in the drug trade, a police
investigator warns.

The Bloods and the Crips, who are not affiliated with the Los Angeles
street gangs, began their long-standing feud on the Blood Tribe, a
sprawling First Nation southwest of Lethbridge.

Over the past year and a half, members of these gangs have become
increasingly involved in the illicit drug trade on the reserve and in
nearby Lethbridge, said Const. Drew Kanyo of the Blood Tribe Police

The biggest concern for police is these gangs are known for brutal
beatings, stabbings and other violence that Kanyo fears will only get

"We're going to see a lot more violence in the future," he said. "We
know how the gangs function out here and how violent they are, and how
they move their weapons.

"We're just constantly sharing information back and forth with
Lethbridge ( police), and hopefully we can nip it. But I don't foresee
it happening any time soon."

Staff Sgt. Rod Klassen, of Lethbridge police, said two rival gangs,
which he wouldn't identify by name, have been violent with each other,
but he doesn't believe there is any risk to the public.

"There are always groups in our city or any city or any town that have
the propensity for violence," he said. "We're on an ongoing basis
fighting that."

Kanyo said he's heard from sources in the drug trade that dealers in
Lethbridge have increasingly been selling methamphetamine, and have
dubbed that city "Methbridge."

A news story in the Lethbridge Herald about a police seizure of 400
grams of meth, along with a slew of other drugs, also referred to the
city as "Methbridge."

Klassen said meth is on the rise in Lethbridge, but cocaine and
fentanyl, a deadly painkiller linked to hundreds of deaths in Alberta,
remain bigger problems for police. He said the rival gangs may be
involved in the local drug trade, but he said police have not linked
meth's rise to members of these groups.

"There's gangs here, there's gangs in Calgary, but is it out of
control? No," he said.

The Bloods began as a family gang, naming themselves after the Blood
reserve 10 to 15 years ago, Kanyo said. There are 50- and 60- year-
old men on the reserve calling themselves Bloods.

They formed a rivalry with opposing families who named themselves
Crips, a nod to the L. A. gang rivalry, but with no affiliation to
those groups.

"Our biggest problem with them out here is the violence they bring
with them everywhere they go," Kanyo said. "We're looking at machetes,
baseball bats, hatchets, anything they can get their hands on.

"We've had plenty of open skulls out here," he said.

"Some really bad assaults where this guy is lucky he lived because of
a gang fight, a hatchet to the head or a machete to the head."

A year and a half ago, the Bloods started to get more organized and
became increasingly involved in drugs. They have a president,
lieutenants and muscle.

The Crips, meanwhile, are recruiting new members just as fast as the
Bloods, Kanyo said.

"They just glorify the gang life so much," he said. "The whole gang
lifestyle is pushing drugs, listening to your rap music and all that."

Kanyo works in a small, specialized unit assigned to drug and
organized crime investigations.

The unit's principal focus has been fentanyl, given that the highly
addictive and powerful drug has been linked to more than 20 deaths and
dozens of other overdoses on the reserve.

But he said meth is fast becoming a drug of choice as fentanyl users
attempt to escape the agony of withdrawals by taking meth, a stimulant
that produces euphoria.

The Bloods and Crips remain active on the reserve, where they recruit
new members, Kanyo said, but they appear to be shifting their drug
activities outside the band's borders.

"We're seeing more of the new guys that are just going into Lethbridge
and staying there," he said. "The drugs are plentiful. They can hide
easier. There's more people for their product. And there's a lot more
street corners to work."
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