Violent gangs in Vancouver are putting innocent lives at risk and endangering public safety. These gangs are preforming illegal drug operations all over Vancouver and often have disputes between the different gangs. These disputes cause violence and death which often include civilian lives.

When gangs have the objective to eliminate someone from an opposing gang, they will stop at nothing to accomplish their task. This often causes civilian casualties as they may be caught in the crossfire, misidentified as a gang member, or became a witness to a murder, which in that case, the gangs can’t let them live. The Surrey Six is an example of gangs eliminating witnesses. The gang’s target was just one person, but five others were killed to get rid of witnesses, just because they were in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Every year there are about 600-750 gang-related homicide victims in Canada, with the number increasing every year since 2018. Out of the 743 homicides in 2020, 20% of them were officially linked to organized crime or gangs. This is a huge risk to public safety.

It’s important to be aware of the existence of gangs to maintain a higher level of safety. Gang operations are being carried out every day and it’s crucial to stay as far away from gangs as possible. The average age for youth to join a gang is 13 years old. Youth tend to join gangs from such a young age because it gives them a sense of belonging and social community. For others, they may see gangs as a way to get easier access to illegal substances, such as alcohol and drugs.

Once one joins a gang, it becomes extremely difficult to leave it. Gang members trying to leave have information that could be given to the police and get other members in trouble; therefore, gang members don’t allow anyone to leave as it puts them at risk. Although it’s possible to leave a gang, often the gang member trying to leave ends up getting murdered to prevent them from sharing information.

If you or anyone you know is at risk or involved in a gang, here are several resources that could provide aid such as: Gang Prevention or National Gang Center. The most well-known gang prevention service is “End Gang Life.” End Gang Life works with the Organized Crime Agency of BC (OCABC), and they provide videos and information to bring attention to gangs and their risk to public safety.

Feature photo courtesy of Everett Library
In text photo courtesy of Keep Calms