RCMP form national co-ordination team in response to extortion schemes

RCMP form national co-ordination team in response to extortion schemes
The RCMP says it has established a national team to co-ordinate the sharing of information about extortion schemes targeting South Asian businesses in B.C., Alberta and Ontario. The RCMP logo is seen outside Royal Canadian Mounted Police

The RCMP says it has established a national team to help co-ordinate investigations and information sharing about extortion schemes targeting South Asian businesses in B.C., Alberta and Ontario.

Mounties say the team is a “nationwide alliance” of police agencies that are all investigating extortion and violent threats, which have been tied to shootings and arson.

The RCMP says the team is not taking over any investigations, but rather providing support to facilitate “seamless” information-sharing at a national level between forces including Peel Regional Police, Surrey RCMP and the Edmonton Police Service.

RCMP Supt. Adam MacIntosh, the team’s leader, says it’s looking into “all similarities and motivations” behind the extortion threats, which are reportedly tied to organized crime groups.

Peel Regional Police formed a task force to investigate extortion incidents in Ontario in December, and the Edmonton Police Service is looking into 34 cases in a probe known as “Project Gaslight.”

B.C. Public Safety Mike Farnworth says he welcomes the news of the national team’s formation, calling it an “important step forward in combating organized crime and extortion attempts in our communities.”

Extortion threats have been reported in several B.C. cities, including West Vancouver, White Rock, Abbotsford and Surrey through physical letters and phone calls and over social media apps.

Police say the extortionists demand “protection money” from would-be victims, most of whom are members of the South Asian business community.

Some have seen their businesses targeted with gunfire after refusing to pay up.

In Ontario, police arrested a 23-year-old man from Abbotsford, B.C., on Dec. 8, 2023, in connection with extortion threats that they say have “caused grave safety and security concerns among our community members.”

Edmonton police said in January that they  made six arrests tied to extortion threats, shootings and arsons.

Surrey RCMP made two arrests in late December 2023 in connection with extortion threats in the city, but the pair were released pending charge approval by Crown prosecutors.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 15, 2024. 

The Canadian PressThe Canadian Press

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