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Organized Crime Characteristics and Methods

Organized crime groups in Canada use various means to conduct their illicit activities. The following section highlights some of the most prevalent characteristics and methods.

The City of Montreal Police Service implements strategies to take aim at the types of crime which are the greatest source of concern for citizens. Its efforts include the fight against street gang activities–a new form of organized crime–and violent crimes, which both have a direct impact on the community’s sense of security.

Director Yvan Delorme,
Montreal Police Service

Violence and Intimidation

Most criminal groups use violence and intimidation as a means to accomplish various criminal objectives. This violence can be categorized as strategic or tactical. Strategic use tends to be employed most often by groups with higher-level criminal capabilities. Careful planning is used to advance multiple criminal activities, retaliate against other crime groups, or corrupt legitimate businesses as well as legal and government systems. In contrast, the tactical use of violence is typically opportunistic, and is carried out in the pursuit of short-term goals that may be in defence of the crime group’s share of a criminal market. It is often spontaneous in nature with an increased likelihood of occurring in a public setting, thus posing a particular risk to public safety. Some groups with lesser criminal capabilities, such as most street gangs across Canada and some independent groups in the B.C. Lower Mainland, are particularly involved in this type of violence.

Technology and Crime

Criminal groups are increasingly targeting communication devices to obtain sensitive personal and financial information in order to undertake theft and fraud. TechnologyMobile wireless devices, particularly those with integrated voice and data systems like personal digital assistants or some cell phones, remain vulnerable to attacks. As instant messaging is expected to expand significantly, criminals will use malicious codes to target communications devices and compromise the sensitive personal and corporate information they contain.

Malicious software will increasingly target voice-over-Internet protocol (VoIP) and wireless networks as this technology grows in popularity, as well as social networking sites that typically feature an interactive network of blogs, user profiles, photos and an internal e-mail system.

Criminal organizations have increased their ability to acquire and implement the most recent technology into their criminal acts of fraud. Cloned cellphones, spoofed websites and the theft of or unauthorized access to database information are just some of the methods criminal organizations are currently using.

Phonebusters -
The Canadian Anti-fraud Call Centre

Money Laundering

According to the International Monetary Fund, an estimated $22 to $55 billion is laundered Money launderingannually in Canada. Criminal groups will continue to exploit domestic financial institutions for money laundering purposes. Some organized crime groups launder their own proceeds while others contract out this service, particularly when the amount exceeds the group’s capacity to launder or the method of laundering requires specialized skills. Criminal groups typically seek to insulate themselves from the laundering process through the use of third parties, financial professionals and other financial intermediaries, such as online payment systems, currency exchanges and shell companies.


Criminal Exploitation of International Borders

Criminal organizations, such as Aboriginal smuggling groups operating on border reserveBorder fence areas, remain involved in smuggling contraband across the Canada/U.S. border. As well, a number of strategically located individuals, such as some border residents and port employees, play varying roles in the illegal cross-border movement of people and commodities. Border entry points and the areas between these points are vulnerable to criminal exploitation as crime groups adapt smuggling strategies in response to enforcement scrutiny.



CBSA actively participates in joint-force operations: enforcement units and working groups on the local, regional and national levels are focussed on fighting transnational organized crime.

Caroline Melis, Director General,
Intelligence Directorate, Canada Border
Services Agency

Criminal Exploitation of the Legitimate Economy

Canadian-based companies are vulnerable to exploitation by both domestic and foreign-based criminal groups. Businesses around the world continue to be targeted in schemes ranging from fraudulent telemarketing and Stock marketextortion to stock market manipulation. Investments in legitimate businesses can also facilitate numerous criminal activities. In addition, some organized crime groups hide cross-border smuggling within the trade of legitimate goods, through import-export flows, or through companies involved in the transportation industry. Criminal exploitation of the legitimate economy continues to represent substantial short- and long-term financial threats to the legitimate business community and the domestic economic infrastructure.


Criminal Markets

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