POLITICS

Notorious B.C. brother's 12-year sentence unlikely to curb gang violence: expert

05/04/2012 01:39 EDT | Updated 07/04/2012 05:12 EDT
VANCOUVER - One of three brothers linked to Vancouver's violent gang world has been sentenced to 12 years in a drug conspiracy case, with a judge concluding he has little hope for rehabilitation because of his notorious family.

Jarrod Bacon's sentencing on Friday is the latest blow to the Bacon brothers and the Red Scorpions, the gang they've been linked to. One brother, Jonathan, was gunned down last year, and another, Jamie, is in jail awaiting trial in a gruesome multiple murder case.

But one observer says the Bacon brothers' diminishing influence will likely do little to curb the violence associated with B.C.'s drug trade, which in the past week has seen one gangster killed in a daylight shooting in Vancouver and another murdered in Mexico.

Bacon, 29, was convicted earlier this year along with his former girlfriend's father, Wayne Scott, of conspiring to import cocaine into Canada from Mexico. Scott will be sentenced at a later date.

The conspiracy itself was imaginary. It was manufactured in a reverse-sting operation in which a police agent promised to sell Bacon 100 kilograms of cocaine for $3 million.

Bacon's lawyer argued the fact that the drugs didn't actually exist should be considered a mitigating factor in sentencing, but Judge Austin Cullen of B.C. Supreme Court disagreed.

"To a great extent, the gravity of the offence of conspiracy lies in the willingness of people to combine together," Cullen said as he sentenced Bacon.

"I do not think it could be said that the impossibility of achieving the offence necessarily detracts or reduces the gravity of the conspiracy."

Bacon testified at his trial that he lied about having access to $3 million to buy the cocaine and never intended to go through with the deal.

He insisted his actual plan was to rob the police agent, but the judge didn't believe him

Bacon sat in the prisoner's box in red prison garb, nodding and fidgeting occasionally, as the judge handed down the sentence.

Police have publicly linked Bacon and his two brothers to the Red Scorpions gang.

Red Scorpions leader Jonathan Bacon was killed in a brazen daylight shooting in Kelowna, B.C., last year.

Jamie Bacon was charged with murder in connection with the deaths of six people, including two innocent bystanders, who were found shot in an apartment in Surrey, B.C., in October 2007.

Bacon's trial heard evidence that his parents were aware of the drug conspiracy, though Bacon denied it.

"The offender's family context does not appear to be a positive force in his life," said Cullen.

"The circumstances of his life and experience to this point do not permit much optimism for his rehabilitation. He appears committed to a criminal lifestyle."

Bacon was on bail for weapons charges when he was arrested for the drug conspiracy. He was later acquitted in the weapons case.

He'll receive more than four years of credit for time already served, leaving him with seven years, two months remaining on his sentence.

The Bacon brothers were seen as central figures in a violent gang war that fuelled near-daily shootings in 2009, but they've since become largely irrelevant as they were either arrested or killed, said criminologist Rob Gordon of Simon Fraser University.

Still, Gordon cautioned the removal of the Bacon brothers likely won't curb the drug trade or the violent gangs that control it.

"They lost that influence a long time ago once they started to be incapacitated one way or another," said Gordon.

"The fact that they disappear creates a vacuum. We've seen this in other kingpins in the drug trade: as they depart for whatever reason, somebody else steps in, either from within their organization, or a competitor moves in to fill the vacuum."

Last week, B.C. gangster Thomas Gisby was shot dead in a coffee shop in Mexico, prompting police to warn his killing could spark retaliation back in Canada.

Earlier this week, another well-known gang member, Ranjit Cheema, was killed in a drive-by shooting in Vancouver. Police haven't said whether the two killings were connected.

"None of that suggests to me that anything the police or anybody else are doing are slowing things down," said Gordon.

"It's like Whac-A-Mole — as fast as one group gets beaten down, another one pops up. What's driving the pop-up is consumer demand, and until that diminishes, we're going to continue to see more of this violence."

Federal Public Safety Minister Vic Toews commended the police and prosecution for Bacon's conviction and sentencing, and he insisted law enforcement have put a dent in gang violence.

"We believe that there is a significant deterrent effect when these individuals are sentenced in this way," Toews told reporters at an unrelated news conference in Victoria.

"We continue to respond very vigorously against those who bring violence into our streets and communities."