POLITICS

Five things to know about the conflict over drugs and territory in Surrey, B.C.

06/21/2015 05:00 EDT | Updated 06/20/2016 05:59 EDT
SURREY, B.C. - Five things to know about the drug-fuelled turf war in Surrey, B.C. and the Surrey Wrap Project that aims to prevent gangs from growing:

1) It's not about race. Police have identified suspects mainly belonging to two ethnic groups — South Asians and Somalis — as being responsible. But Surrey RCMP spokesman Sgt. Dale Carr says the struggle is simply over which group controls which territory for dial-a-dope lines, and ultimately that's about money.

2) It cuts across class. Ryan Lucas, who played for the Winnipeg Blue Bombers and now coaches participants in an anti-gang program at a specialized gym, says he's noticed a somewhat unique phenomenon where teens from affluent families are being lured into drug dealing and gangs.

3) The nearby U.S. border has kept pastures green for dealers for decades. A high U.S. dollar and quick drive south keeps business flowing for "B.C. bud"-brand marijuana dealers, said Rob Rai with the Surrey School District. One dial-a-dope call can be worth $1,500 to $2,000 a day, while "triple-A bud" that nets $1,800 per pound in Canada can be valued at $5,000 per pound across the border, he said.

4) The Wrap Project is based on "passionate science." Rai, who began developing the program in 2007, said its current design was influenced by research at B.C.'s Kwantlen Polytechnic University. The institution conducted a five-year study surveying 400 Grade 8 students about why kids don't join gangs.

5) Authorities say they know the guys involved very well. Rai says his school staff are familiar with a roster of alleged shooting victims who RCMP say have not been co-operative. Police released their names in an unusual investigative step, and Rai says his staff know how the individuals are connected to students in the Wrap program.