Tips roll in on drive-by and firebombing

Garrett Barry
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A Crime Stoppers official says the agency is receiving lots of information about some gang-related incidents in St. John’s last Friday.

“We are getting some tips in relation to a few different parts of that date, May 31,” said Sgt. Vicki Chalker, who co-ordinates Crime Stoppers Newfoundland and Lab­ra­dor.

A drive-by shooting and a firebombing occurred that day, as well as an unrelated stabbing.

“We’re getting quite a few tips in relation to all of that,” Chalker said.

RNC Chief Robert Johnston said Monday the force believes the shooting on Dauntless Street and the fire on Hamilton Avenue are connected to the drug trade, and potentially to the Hells Angels.

The RNC put out a request to residents of the Kenmount Terrace subdivision, where the shooting took place, looking to speak to people who had security cameras point­ed towards roads in front of their houses that night.

Chalker said Crime Stoppers has not received footage in relation to that request.

RNC spokeswoman Const. Talia Murphy said the investigation is ongoing.

Johnston said the RNC is already talking to potential suspects.

But Memorial University criminology professor Scott Kenney said combatting organized crime is going to be a difficult task.

“Organized crime is not a particular type of crime or a particular type of criminal. What you’re talking about here is an organizational structure, more than anything else,” he said. “People involved in organized crime, they are basically interchangeable. … Essentially, you put somebody in jail, the organization continues.”

The complications persist, he said, because these organizations do their best to cover their tracks.

While organizations will make money from drug sales, prostitution and weapons trafficking, Kenney said, gangs use all types of money-laundering techniques — including using the stock market — to make their business blend in with the crowd.

Sometimes, he said, they will hire lawyers and accountants who might not even know the group is a criminal organization.

“The line between organized crime and legitimate business is very, very fuzzy,” he said.

Even when cornered, operations might figure out when the heat is on, and will be able to get their money out quickly, Kenney said.

“The bottom line is, all of this is done for money. It’s done for the dollars. It’s done for the profit.”

On Tuesday, Johnston said he is confident in his force’s ability to take on organized crime, pointing to two large policing operations — Operation Roadrunner and Operation Razorback — which resulted in arrests of members of organized crime operations and seizures of large amounts of drugs.

While Kenney wasn’t surprised to hear biker gangs are in the province, he said he doesn’t think this type of high-profile incident will become common.

“The biker gangs are active all across the country,” he said. “They’ve probably got business dealings here already. The question really comes down to how extensive those are.”

He said news headlines aren’t good for the organizations’ operations.

“Generally, those kind of things, they prefer to do things quietly. Otherwise it brings too much heat down on them.

“They want to keep the business flowing. They don’t want trouble.”

 

garrett.barry@thetelegram.com

Organizations: Crime Stoppers, Hells Angels

Geographic location: Dauntless Street, Hamilton Avenue

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