Organized Crime in Yukon: An Examination of Criminal Networks and the Associated Impact

July 26, 2022
Whitehorse, Yukon


Statement from the Commanding Officer

The report titled Organized Crime in Yukon: An Examination of Criminal Networks and the Associated Impact is an analysis of criminal activity in Yukon which provides important information with respect to guiding future enforcement activities. While police and many Yukoner's have for some time noted, anecdotally, the impact the drug trade has had on the quality of life for Yukon communities, this report clearfixly identifies the extent and the impact in measurable terms. As indicated in the report, illicit drugs, and opioids in particular, have both a human and financial impact. As a key pillar of Yukon's harm reduction strategy, RCMP in Yukon will continue to work with local partners to minimize this impact and reduce the opportunities for criminal organizations to introduce toxic drugs to Yukon communities through targeted enforcement activities.

Chief Superintendent Scott Sheppard, Commanding Officer Yukon RCMP

Statement from the Minister of Justice

The Yukon RCMP have worked continuously to combat the toxic drug supply in the Yukon, including the creation of a specialized Crime Reduction Unit to target trafficking and organized criminal group activity. Enforcement is an important aspect of our territory's broader response to the Substance Use Health Emergency, and the Government of Yukon will continue to support ongoing policing efforts.

The information provided in this report will help to inform our strategies to counter the harms of the illicit drug trade and to reduce the harms to people who use drugs, their families, and our communities. The report also shows us some of the many impacts this crisis has had on all Yukoners. We will continue working with the Yukon RCMP and our community partners to address the challenges.

Minister of Justice Tracy-Anne McPhee


Contact information

Yukon RCMP - Media Relations

Backgrounder - Organized Crime in Yukon: An Examination of Criminal Networks and the Associated Impact

The report Organized Crime in Yukon: An Examination of Criminal Networks and the Associated Impact will provide insight into Organized Crime (OC) Networks, the scope of related criminal activity and the associated impact of organized crime within Yukon. The report is current to May 2021 with respect to OC Networks and December 2021 with respect to harm, cost and impact. The content of this report is representative of the public safety environment in Yukon in the context of organized crime; the values presented in this report provide a relative measure of cost and are not considered absolute nor exhaustive.

Yukon occupies a unique place amongst the Canadian geographic landscape being both a vast and remote space but also sharing an international border with the United States. Assessing the impacts of illicit and licit drugs on the community is contextualized by the above factors. Sharing a border with Alaska increases the potential for international drug trafficking, while the remoteness impacts the size and scope of the criminal markets and even the availability or use rates for certain substances. These factors additionally contribute to a potentially volatile illicit drug marketplace with significant shifts in drug toxicity and chemical composition. An alarming report from the Yukon Coroner's service in November of 2021 highlights this problem when it was released that the Yukon was currently experiencing a rate of 48.4 deaths per 100 000 people due to opioids. This is significantly higher than the Canada wide average of 19.4 and even the British Columbia average at 42.8, the previous high across the country. Provinces and territories in Canada are attempting to offset and mitigate these harms through access to services, increases in paramedics and ambulances, availability of naloxone kits and simple visibility; Yukon is no different, and has increased access to services, availability of naloxone kits and opened safe consumption sites, among other efforts. Mitigation is only a partial solution, and the impacts of illicit drugs on Yukon then cannot be understated. It is with this in mind that this report attempts to measure, in a relative capacity, the harms associated with illicit drugs in Yukon and the direct role of organized crime.

Executive summary

Yukon is no longer exempt from the growing opioid crisis seen across Canada. A conservative estimate of dependent opioid users in Yukon is 161 individuals– but could be as high as 430 dependent users.

The impact of illicit drugs in Yukon is significant as a result of:

  • illicit drug overdose related deaths
  • organized crime who supply and operate the majority of the illicit drug activity
  • rising costs and harms to the community from illicit drugs

Drug overdose

Organized crime in Yukon is responsible for more harm than which occurs from alcohol and tobacco.
The main costs and harms involving illicit drugs are:

  • Lost Productivity – years a person can't work as a result of an opioid overdose death or injury
    • In 2021 it is estimated to have cost Yukon $54 million, or the equivalent of $1253.05 per person
  • Rising numbers in illicit drug overdose related deaths
    • In 2021 this occurred at a rate of 48.4 / 100 000, the highest rate in Canada

Opioids, including fentanyl, as well as cocaine and benzodiazepines were most commonly linked to overdose deaths.

Illicit drugs are believed to have overtaken alcohol as the most significant contributor to early deaths in Canada.

Organized crime

Organized crime, both in Yukon and surrounding provinces, has persisted and is becoming entrenched.

There are at least five organized crime networks operating in Yukon, consisting of more than 250 individuals located within, and outside of, Yukon.

In 2021, it is estimated that organized crime generated $12.5 million from trafficking crack cocaine, powder cocaine, and opioids. An estimated $1.5 million of that profit was used for other criminal activity, such as violence, weapons trafficking, money laundering and human trafficking. The criminal proceeds made from the expanding synthetic opioid market help organized crime maintain control in Yukon, creating more dependent users in more communities.

Organized crime located outside of, but affecting, Yukon are primarily associated to the Lower Mainland area within British Columbia, which escalates the complexity of the opioid crisis in Yukon.

Costs of illicit drugs

Organized crime activity in illicit drugs creates significant costs for the community with little regard for health or human life. This cost will continue to rise as illicit drug activity grows. A conservative estimate of dependent opioid users in Yukon is 161 individuals – but could be as high as 430 dependent users.

Illicit drugs are estimated to have cost Yukon $113 million in 2021. This estimate is forecast to rise, and could total $127 million at the conclusion of 2023. Opioid related costs would account for $90 million in 2023.

Scope of data

Data for this report is sourced internally from Criminal Intelligence Service of British Columbia / Yukon Territory (CISBC/YT) collection on serious and organized crime and externally from academic and government resources. External data is sourced from McFadden's 2016 New Zealand Drug Harm Index, British Columbia Coroner's service, Yukon's Coroner's service, the Canadian Tobacco Alcohol and Drug's survey, the Canadian Substance Use Cost and Harms, the Uniform Crime Reporting Survey (UCR), the Canadian Centre on Substance Use and Addiction, the 2016 and 2021 Canadian Censuses and various academic sources.

The Criminal Intelligence Service of British Columbia / Yukon Territory CISBC/YT is a law enforcement intelligence agency comprised of employees from municipal, provincial, and federal law enforcement bodies. CISBC/YT completes threat assessments specific to organized crime, for the purpose of providing senior executives with intelligence to support combatting organized crime at the provincial / territorial level. CISBC/YT has provided this report to the Commanding Officer and Criminal Operations Officer, RCMP M Division (Yukon RCMP), for dissemination at their discretion. Requests for additional information should be addressed to the Yukon RCMP Commanding Officer.

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