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A close up of two pairs of hands, belonging to two casually-dressed men, exchange a packet of illegal drugs and money.

Just the Facts – Organized Crime

The activities of organized crime groups can influence you directly. For example, the taxes you pay can increase because of losses in revenue from things such as contraband tobacco and alcohol. Credit: Serge Gouin, RCMP


Organized crime comes in many forms: street and motorcycle gangs, and internationally connected crime groups, such as the Mafia. The illicit activities they're involved in, such as drug trafficking, financial crimes, human trafficking, fraud, theft, contraband and counterfeit goods, threaten the safety of Canadian communities. The Criminal Intelligence Service Canada – the voice of the Canadian criminal intelligence community – reports that:

  • There are more than 2,000 organized crime groups (OCGs) operating in Canada.
  • Their operations can influence you directly. The taxes you pay can increase because of losses in revenue from things such as contraband tobacco and alcohol. Your car insurance can also cost you more when premiums increase as a result of car thefts.
  • Of the assessed OCGs in 2020, 73 per cent are believed to be involved in violent activities, ranging from assaults and extortion, to shootings and homicides.
  • More than half have interprovincial and international connections with links to 77 countries.
  • It is suspected that many members of organized crime groups are involved in areas of the public sector. Family connections, romantic relationships, and monetary gain appear to be the principal factors motivating corruption in the sector.
  • A total of 29 per cent of OCGs are reported to be involved in money laundering.
  • Private sector businesses are also exploited by OCGs to launder their proceeds of crime. Money launders disguise the origins of the money they make from illegal activities by moving the funds through, often complex, financial transactions to make the money appear legitimately earned.
  • The accommodations and food services, retail trade, transportation and warehousing, construction, and other services represent 64 per cent of the businesses linked to OCGs and their illicit activity, such as money laundering.
  • Methamphetamine continues to be one of the most significant national-level criminal market threats to communities across Canada.
  • In 2020, 164 OCGs were reported as being active in the methamphetamine market, based primarily in Ontario. Thirteen were involved in manufacturing.
  • Cocaine remains one of the most profitable and stable illicit drug markets in Canada.
  • In 2020, 313 assessed OCGs were involved in some aspect of cocaine trafficking, with 71 groups involved in importation.
  • Outlaw motorcycle gangs (OMGs) extend from coast to coast.
  • Support clubs are an important element of OMG networks, whose members use them to traffic drugs and commit acts of violence and intimidation.
  • Support clubs also serve as a form of recruitment, where members can demonstrate loyalty and service to the OMGs.
  • Outlaw motorcycle gangs often take part in legitimate charitable events and other public relations efforts to portray themselves positively.
  • In 2020, Mafia in Canada encompassed 25 groups that were linked to 11 per cent of assessed organized crime groups (OCGs). They were mainly based in Hamilton, Ont.,Toronto and Montreal.
  • Mafia manage drug importation networks that fuel violent conflicts between OCGs operating at the distribution level.
  • They also maintain a stronghold over OCGs committing criminal acts in their name, despite Mafia members rarely being involved in public displays of violence.
  • High-level Mafia figures continue to remain insulated from acts of violence, often using street gang members to commit acts of intimidation, extortion, arson and murder.
  • Street gangs are more likely to be involved in overt violent activities that present a higher risk to public safety, such as shootings and homicides, than other subsets of OCGs.
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