One thing I will always hate about Vancouver: The most ‘degrading’ gangsters live here..
From south asian background, I could get in to an argument with just about any Indo-Canadian here telling me that they grew-up in a rough, marginalized, discriminatory neighborhoud. Now it seems petty of me to call out anybody on the way they were raised and of course, it would never seem moral of one to take the road of organized-crime to begin with. But, why is it that the shadowing ideology that Indo-Canadians were raised with such hardships in which they must turn to crime, still exists?
Greetings fellow readers, this is going to be one of my more controversial outlooks on my local society. In forward, I would just like to clarify that in no way, form whatsoever do I intend to racially attack or discriminate any minority group within my community.
When I immigrated to Vancouver, BC I was about 2–3 months old. My family first stayed in East Van on Hastings and Main before relocating to Cambie Road in Richmond, BC. I stayed there for about 5 years of my life, until elementary school which is when I first moved to the condo I currently have been in for over 14 years. I grew up in Newton, a neighborhood town district within Surrey, BC — a city recently documented by National Geographic for it’s long reputation of low income, drug dealing, gang violence and overall unwelcoming community. I was once told that there really isn’t much to Surrey, the sign is about as far as you’d be interested in it, just suburban homes, creeks and parks. Vice Magazine has also done their write-up on Surrey, calling the place, ‘something you never liked that much in the first place’. Originally, the most notorious of all Surrey town centres was their central one, a place called ‘Whalley’, known for prostitutes, drug addicts aka. ‘junkies’, loud-disruptive youth and grow-ups. However, over the past 4 years, Newton has slowly seemed to takeover the reputation of worst neighborhood within the central, western and southern neighborhoods. As well as some Eastern streets, being target locations for drive-by’s after 10 pm.
Now, don’t get too imaginative, comparing Surrey to a place like Watts, Englewood, Myrtle Ave or dare I even say…. Compton. If you’ve lived in Surrey for roughly about 8 months, you’d for sure be aware that a large majority of the ‘dangers’ are highly over exaggerated and a large amount of the crime is either targeted or specific. The only exceptions would have to be muggings which would appear on any shady road late at night, along with property damage which is more of a slight burden at this point.
But how did Surrey end up in such a ruined state to begin with? I’m very aware that the downtown district of Surrey is currently being transformed into somewhat of a ‘Yaletown’ of our area, regardless of whatever you may believe. And I’m not going to get too into describing and breaking down Surrey’s history, but one thing I will heavily focus on is the stereotypes of Gang life in Surrey, BC.
About 6 years ago, CBC did a special documentary targeting the gang violence and history of gangsters in British Columbia. The documentary was a 5 part special entitled ‘The Gangster Next Door’, which heavily focused on Indo-Canadian organized crime within the lower mainland, as well as outlaw motorcycle gangs, something we’ve become known for on Western Canada. One major syndicate that I’ve been told about ever since 7th grade was the infamous ‘Punjabi Mafia’ or as I’d like to call them The ‘8 Deadly Families of BC’. There was also a tense attitude between Southeast Asians, some East Asians and Brown/ Middle-eastern youth within Surrey, BC. Mainly because of all their rumors and false beliefs on gang culture in BC, who held more notoriety and who wanted to feel powerful. A lot of these brown kids felt like they were culturally more in-tuned and that gang violence hit them more consciously because of the history between Indo-Canadians and crime during the late 80’s and 90’s. Alot of them did have their knowledge of being socially aware on point, however almost all of it was usually one sided, biased or indirectly discriminatory towards anybody who felt struck about a specific gang-related situation in BC. For the sake of ending all false claims, I would just like to re-clarify the history and aftermath of alot of the gangs in BC. And no, I am not generalizing my opinion.
MYTH: The first big organized-criminals in BC were Indo-Canadians and they basically created the entire drug trade in BC.
According to ‘The East Indians in British Columbia 1904–1914 : an historical study in growth and integration’ by Lal, Brij — the first Indo-Canadians to settle in Canada had originated from the Chinese cities of Guangzhou (Canton), Hong Kong, and Shanghai. A very large majority of the first organized crime in BC was white, however Chinese as-well. While not the first wave of gangsters in BC (which was the Parker Gangs, who were publicly territorial and less homicidal), the Tongs and Triads appeared to control the majority of the opium and heroin trade in BC between the early 80’s to the mid 90’s, alongside the hispanic ‘Los Diablos’ gang. You can still read about these gangster in Chapter 2: ‘The Gangster’s Playground’ of the ‘Notorious Bacon Brothers’ book.
MYTH: Tongs and Triads don’t exist in Canada, or even then, atleast not anymore.
Triads are Chinese organized criminals which run illegal multinational business between many American, Asian and European counties. They originated as a rebel movement towards the Communist Party of China in the 1800’s and have since grown to become the ‘Mafia’ of the Chinese people. Many Tongs or ‘secret societies’, are considered Chinese brotherhoods in which run illegal business and have had long ties to the Triad societies. Some early Tong’s within BC were the Red Eagles Gang, Gum Wah, Viet Ching, Jung Ching, Ching Tao, Yee Tong, Wild Animals and the infamous Big Circle Gang, which is still active and running underworld business between BC and Ontario for over 30 years. Many other former members of the Red Eagles joined the notorious 14k Triads, one of the worlds largest triad groups. However one main gang stood through the 80’s all throughout the 90’s as well, the infamous ‘Lotus Triads’. The Lotus Family was responsible for a brutal rivalry between the the Punjabi Mafia that held responsibility for the murder of BC’s most infamous crime boss, Bhupinder ‘Bindy’ Johal. Lotus Triads also gave early ties to Clayton Roueche during the beginnings of the ‘United Nations Gang’ (yes we have one smh). These Tongs and Triad groups existed about a decade before Indo-Canadian crime groups began to resemble, after many of the Los Diablos were killed off, Indo-Canadians began to occupy the gang in the late 80’s, this was some of the first indo-canadian thugs, but still not purely.
MYTH: Indo-Canadians are the most notorious gangsters in BC and Canada overall.
Crime statistics state that Aboriginal-Canadian crime controls the majority of the gang underworld in Canada, however it has been on a heavy decrease in BC over the past decade. The most notorious first nations gangs in Canada are the Native Syndicate, Indian Posse, Manitoba Warriors, Alberta Warriors, Saskatchewan Warriors and the Redd Alert prison gang. The gangs are active in about 7 provinces and are behave very violently towards turf control. However, one mistake some of us seem to forget is that the Hell’s Angels MC is still the most powerful gang in Canada, regardless of originating in California.
MYTH: Surrey and Sunset Drive were Ghettos.
Surrey and Sunset Drive were never classified as areas where civilian were pushed into due to racial segregation or economical downfall.
And now for some truths.
YES, Indo-Canadians and other brown middle-eastern citizens in BC received heavy racial discrimination in the 90 from multiple ethnic groups.
However… so did almost all other racial groups including the East and Southeast Asians, Blacks, Whites, Hispanics and Aboriginals.
YES, There are Indo-Canadians suffering in serious poverty, without easy access to social services.
However… waiting for assistance will always stand above taking the criminal road in life, for the moral reason.
YES, Indo-Canadian organized criminals and other brown gang affiliates are a serious threat. And their concern should not be judged by their comparison to more powerful gangs such as those in USA.
However… Indo-Canadians are no longer the only people in BC who should feel such close and heartfelt emotion towards gang violence, as it does affect and come from almost all cultures in BC.
What happened to the Parker Gangs?
Some left, became imprisoned, or joined Hell’s Angels MC.
What happened to the Los Diablos?
The gang died after all the hispanic gangsters slowly disappeared or were murdered. Regardless of the Indo-Canadians taking over it later.
What happened to the Punjabi Mafia?
All 8 deadly families; the Dosanjhs, Johals, Adiwals, Cheemas, Buttars, Dhaks, Duhres and Grewals had either become incarcerated, murdered, deceased, or left impaired for life.
- What happened to Bindy Johal?
He was assassinated by a hit man hired by Bal Buttar. Others claim he was murdered as a response of ‘Raymond Chan’s abduction, a leading member of the Lotus Triads.
- What happened to the Dosanjh’s?
All are dead including Sukhvinder ‘Bicky’ Dosanjh, the cousin of the two brothers who died by a car accident in 2005. Bindy ordered hits on the two brothers.
What happened to the Tongs and Triads of Vancouver?
- The majority of the 80’s and 90’s generation tongs are inactive with the exception of the Big Circle Gang and some 14K Triads.
What happened to the Independent Soldiers?
- They are now relocated in Calgary and Edmonton, however have made little headlines ever since their attempted resurgence was halted in 2015. Their biggest change is that they are no longer Independent and have come a ‘puppet club’ or sub-set of the Hell’s Angels after the Wolf Pack Alliance took forth. Many new white members have been added, along with many bikers.
What happened to the Red Scorpions?
- Michael Le (the founder of the gang) claims that if he could turn back time, he would have never created the gang at all during his 2014 court appearance regarding the ‘Surrey Six’ murder. Besides that, they are still active but weakening heavily after several raids and busts made by the CFSEU. Many members have left, murdered or incarcerated for life.
What happened to the United Nations Gang?
- They are still a multi-ethnic ‘puppet club’ for various Triad societies in Asia. Many UN gangsters are still active on the Vancouver streets, however they have as well weakened over the past couple years of arrests and busts.
Who are the new gangs to stay concerned about in BC?
- The 856 gang which was a former ally of the Hell’s Angels. The gang has been making multi-provincial drug trades and has publicly turfed with the Hell’s Angels themselves.
- The Surrey Boys gang of the prairies has made some connections over the Lower Mainland and Vancouver Island.
- The Somali gangs, smaller Indo-Canadian gangs, new middle-eastern and youth gangs are now running wild on the streets of the Lower Mainland.
If you have any feedback please feel free to comment, peace!