Drug awareness - Organized crime

Under Section 467.1 of the Criminal Code, organized crime is defined as being a group composed of three or more persons, having as one of its main purposes the facilitation or commission of a serious offence likely to result in a financial benefit. So, just about any type of illicit activity can be undertaken by organized crime groups, as long as there is money to be made.

Drug trafficking: A key activity of organized crime


Organized crime engages in many illegal activities such as fraud, money laundering, identity theft, firearms trafficking, smuggling, human trafficking, human smuggling, etc. However, illicit drug trade remains the most dynamic and lucrative activity of organized crime. In fact, drug trafficking is the sector of activity involving the largest number of organized crime groups.

Whether by container, plane, mail, motor vehicle or simply by using human couriers, criminal organizations are very creative in finding ways to conceal substances for the purpose of importation and exportation. The different ports of entry, airports, and rail and road networks are essential links for the supply of drugs. As well, the popularity of the sale of drugs on the Internet should not be overlooked.

Prescription drugs and counterfeit medicines

Criminal organizations engage not only in the trafficking of substances such as cocaine, cannabis, heroin, synthetic drugs, but also prescription drugs. In fact, prescription drugs have become increasingly popular on the black market, particularly opiates. Thousands of pain-killing drugs are stolen or diverted to the black market every year.

The manufacture of counterfeit medicines also remains a reality. The introduction of less expensive, but often more potent, opiates manufactured by criminal organizations in clan labs increases the risks related to the use of these substances. Drugs such as sildenafil (ViagraMD) and tadalafil (CialisMD) and various anabolic steroids are also increasingly manufactured in these labs.

The proliferation of new psychoactive substances as well as increased competition between organized crime groups also contribute to a stronger illicit drug market. The introduction of new synthetic substances also makes it possible to circumvent regulations. Organized crime groups get chemical precursors from suppliers abroad. These precursors are used to make synthetic drugs in clan labs destined to Canadian and international markets.

The impact of organized crime

Organized crime affects the daily lives of Canadians. It can affect:

  • the taxes you pay: tax revenue losses from contraband tobacco and alcohol;
  • your car insurance premiums: higher auto insurance due to car thefts by organized crime rings;
  • your banking fees: banks recovering fraud costs; and
  • even your safety and health: drug-related violence, faulty counterfeit goods, neighborhood marihuana grow operations and clandestine laboratories.

Globalization and rapid advances in technology have contributed to the expansion and internationalization of organized crime activities; Canadians can easily fall victim to organized crime groups operating outside of our borders (identity theft, Internet fraud, e-mail scams, phishing, etc.), making it a global problem that cannot be fought solely within our borders.

The presence of organized crime is always synonymous to violence and corruption. These are mainstays of primary activities, which greatly affect every Canadian's right to safety and security. If you witness criminal activity, contact your local police or Crime Stoppers toll free at 1-800-711-1800.

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