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Murder victim's path of crime began years ago, according to source

Police officers investigate the scene of a stabbing death last Thursday on Automall Drive off Mt. Lehman Road. - Alex Butler
Police officers investigate the scene of a stabbing death last Thursday on Automall Drive off Mt. Lehman Road.
— image credit: Alex Butler

Matt Campbell was a bullied, chubby kid coerced into grow-op break-ins when he was 12 or 13, according to a source.

And so began his path of crime, eventually leading to his involvement in the United Nations and Red Scorpions gangs – and  last week, to his death.

Campbell, who grew up in Abbotsford, was the victim of a fatal stabbing last Thursday (Jan. 2). Police, fire and ambulance crews were called to Automall Drive – the location of the Fraser Valley Auto Mall off Mt. Lehman Road – at about 3:45 p.m. after Campbell stumbled into Enterprise Rent-A-Car with severe neck wounds.

He was taken to hospital, where he later died.

Integrated Homicide Investigation Team (IHIT) spokesman Adam Macintosh said the incident likely occurred in the auto mall. He said Campbell, 31, was known to police for his criminal gang-related history, and the assault was believed to be targeted.

IHIT has had no new information to release, including the motive for the attack, whether Campbell was in a vehicle at the time, and who might be involved.

“The investigation continues, including the collection and review of evidence such as video surveillance,” Macintosh said.

It has been reported that Campbell was the alleged leader of the Red Scorpions, but a source who spoke to The News on the condition of anonymity said this was not the case.

The person said Campbell was “an enforcer and a manager” for the gang but did not lead the organization.

The source said Campbell initially began his gang involvement as a drug dealer with the UN group and established himself as a “big earner.”

He had come from a stable family, with a brother and a sister, but he was drawn to a group with whom he could bond, feel protected and garner power, the source said.

But Campbell’s strengths were a threat to other gangs, and one day the Red Scorpions, led by Abbotsford’s Bacon brothers, came calling with an offer – do a favour for them or be killed.

Campbell was still working for the Scorpions at the time of his death, according to the source.

The person described Campbell, who had two young children, as someone who “could have gone anywhere.”

Campbell was among 10 people charged in 2006 after police broke up a gun trafficking ring that sold handguns, rifles and machine guns to drug dealers across the country.

Police seized more than 100 guns during a series of raids, and approximately one-third of them had been located in Abbotsford.

Campbell, who was described as a “facilitator” in the ring, was sentenced in January 2008 to two years in prison.

There has been speculation that Campbell’s death was a gang hit that could result in retaliation, but Abbotsford Police spokesman Const. Ian MacDonald said this is not necessarily the case.

Just because someone affiliated with gangs is killed doesn’t mean the death was part of a conflict with rivals, he said.

MacDonald said investigators need to look at all angles in such homicides, including whether the victim ripped somebody off or had angered someone within his or her own gang.

He said police have made great strides in curbing gang violence in the community since the city was dubbed the Murder Capital of Canada for its 2008 and 2009 homicide stats, but it’s impossible to eradicate the problem.

“You don’t get rid of gangs until you get rid of all the commodities that gangs are involved in.”

MacDonald said although gangs such as the Red Scorpions, Independent Soldiers and the UN Gang are still active in the community, the individual players and the allegiances change regularly. Gangsters will go where the money is most easily made, he said.

“Even gangs that we think are arch enemies of one another are working collaboratively.”

MacDonald said the key to continued alleviation of gang issues in the community is “informed and alert” citizens who report suspicious activity and police focused on the suppression of gang activity.

“We have made Abbotsford very inhospitable (for gangsters). The (police) chief calls it a lousy place to be a gangster, and I think we’ve achieved that.”

 

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