Feuding associates connected to the drug trade are believed to be responsible for several recent incidents, according to Sgt. Jason Walker with the guns and gangs unit.
Calgary is no stranger to gang violence. At least 25 deaths have been tied to a war between the FOB and FK gangs between 2002 and 2009.
Those groups have been largely dismantled but Walker says at least three shootings are likely tied to a criminal organization.
Police believe three incidents since October are connected: the drive-by shooting of a home in Rundle on New Year's Day, the shooting at a northeast Co-op store two weeks later and the Oct. 14 shooting at a northeast bar where one man was injured.
And investigators aren't ruling out a connection to at least one unsolved homicide in the last six months.
Still Walker says the recent violence isn't at the same level the city saw during the FOB and FK era.
"We're always concerned about something like that and we're not there yet," said Walker. "The Calgary Police Service today is so much better prepared than we were 10 to 12 years ago to deal with things like this."
Organized crime expected in large cities
Both the Real Time Operations Centre (RTOC) and the guns and gangs unit are new to the police service since that gang war, plus Walker says the strategies and tactics gained through experience.
Walker also welcomes new resources being re-allocated from the HEAT (High Enforcement Auto Theft) team to the intelligence unit, which includes guns and gangs.
"We'll take all the resources that we can get.... Right now we're trying to deal with shootings and organized crime," said Walker. "Absolutely we're only going to benefit from having more investigators."
Still he says in a city of 1.2 million, an organized crime presence is to be expected.
"They're only here because they sell commodities and services and there are Calgarians out there buying this stuff up," said Walker. "If I could wave a magic wand and take away Calgary's appetite for illicit substances and services, we would cripple organized crime."
Walker says it's difficult though to define or put a name on a particular criminal group.
"There are a host of loosely associated networks out there in Calgary that profit from organized criminal activity and the interplay between these groups is fairly fluid at times," said Walker. "What I'm saying is you can draw a box around a chunk of them and within that chunk there's interplay going on between rivals right now but it's isolated to that group."
The biggest challenge for the unit, according to Walker is getting community co-operation.
"If the community steps up and helps us there's really not much we can't accomplish."
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