SPECIAL GANG REPORT: Teaming up against organized crime

The Combined Forces Special Enforcement Unit and Abbotsford Police's Gang Suppression Unit are putting a bite on gang crime.

  • May. 15, 2013 5:00 a.m.
Members of the Abbotsford Police Department Gang Suppression Unit advance on a targeted home.

Members of the Abbotsford Police Department Gang Suppression Unit advance on a targeted home.

Abbotsford was once ground-zero for gang warfare that raged across the Lower Mainland. Police initiatives, including the Combined Forces Special Enforcement Unit (CFSEU), and the Abbotsford Police Department Gang Suppression Unit, have turned the tide. This is a CFSEU and Abbotsford News special report.

Gang violence and murders escalated in the Lower Mainland in 2008-09, fueled by rival gangs’ battle for dominance in the competitive drug trade.

Leading this bloody war on one side was the Red Scorpions gang headed by Abbotsford’s notorious Bacon brothers – Jamie, Jarrod and Jonathan – while on the other was the United Nations Gang.

Abbotsford recorded eight homicides in 2008 and 11 in 2009 – most gang-related – leading to the city being dubbed the “Murder Capital of Canada.”

The violence sometimes spilled onto city streets – as epitomized by the incident in January 2009 in which numerous shots were fired at Jamie Bacon in broad daylight while he was in his vehicle at the busy intersection of South Fraser Way and Sumas Way.

The Abbotsford Police Department responded to the violence by forming its gang suppression unit (GSU) in April 2010. The GSU’s focus was the disruption and intervention of gang activity, working in consultation with other agencies such as the regional Combined Forces Special Enforcement Unit (CFSEU-BC), which is the province’s anti-gang police unit.

CFSEU-BC is an integrated joint forces operation that draws and develops highly specialized officers from federal, provincial and municipal agencies around the province, including Abbotsford.

The team of 400 officers and civilians focuses on intelligence sharing, coordination and strategic deployment against the threat of violence posed by organized crime groups and gangs in B.C.

Although the Red Scorpions collapsed with the imprisonment of two Bacon brothers, and the murder of the third, the CFSEU and other units continue to operate as other people fill the roles left by gangsters who have been jailed or killed.

ABBOTSFORD GANG SUPPRESSION UNIT

The Abbotsford Police Department’s gang suppression unit (GSU) was formed in April 2010 in response to the number of gang-related murders and violent crimes in the city. When the unit formed, police said their top concern was public safety, as they aimed for a 20 per cent drop in violent gang crime and a 15 per cent reduction in listed gang associates. Those numbers have since been reached. The 14-member team’s role is to disrupt gang activity, keep tabs on known criminals and make arrests where necessary.

Police Chief Bob Rich has always said the goal is to make Abbotsford a miserable place for criminals to do business. His was the first department to identify the Duhres as a prominent crime group in the Lower Mainland. The GSU works in consultation with other agencies, including the CFSEU-BC, to coordinate investigations.

CFSEU-BC is made up of police officers from:

Abbotsford Police Department, Canada Border Services Agency, Central Saanich Police Service, Delta Police Department, New Westminster Police Department, Organized Crime Agency of British Columbia, Port Moody Police Department, Royal Canadian Mounted Police, Saanich Police Department, Transit Police, Vancouver Police Department, Victoria Police Department, West Vancouver Police Department.

Other partners include the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police and the International Association of Chiefs of Police and the Organized Crime Agency of British Columbia (OCABC), a fully independent and provincially-designated police agency.

The CFSEU has now published its first-ever Community Report, which details the agency’s activities, objectives and statistics.

The report can be read online at bc-anti-gang.com.