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Organized crime boom prompts immigration rejections

JIM BRONSKILL, CP   2004-07-29 01:30:57  

OTTAWA -- More than 800 people with ties to organized crime were booted out of Canada or denied entry to the country during a recent three-year period, an internal government memo reveals. The briefing note, prepared by the Immigration Department's intelligence branch, warns that gangs and mobsters are operating on a global scale "with much greater ease than in the past."

About 20,000 cases involving immigrants and visitors suspected of links to criminal gangs and syndicates have been referred to the department's organized crime division since 1994.

Many of these leads have resulted in action to seal off the border to mob members.

"In the last three years alone, the department has identified, intercepted, refused admission to, or removed from Canada in excess of 800 individuals known or believed to have links with organized crime," says the memo, obtained by CP under the Access to Information Act.

"The major concerns include Asian, Eastern European and Italian crime syndicates and outlaw motorcycle gangs."

Financial rewards, corrupt officials and a lack of "swift and certain punishment" make it tempting for criminal figures to stake out markets around the world, said Peter Chimbos, a sociology professor at Brescia University College at Western.

"It's likely to grow," he said.

Criminal activity that transcends national borders is one consequence of the globalized economy, notes the Immigration Department.

"The array of modern telecommunications, banking, travel and financial systems that now span the globe have given criminal elements the tools to move people, money and goods across national borders with much greater ease than in the past," the November memo says.

"Today's international criminal organizations are adaptable, sophisticated, extremely opportunistic, and immersed in a full range of illegal and legal activities."

In one case, Ze Wai Wong, a Chinese national living in Toronto, has been accused of leading a major drug trafficking ring that distributed narcotics in several cities.

The internal memo says while the drug trade continues to be the most lucrative business for organized crime groups, they have expanded activities "to a corporate level" involving migrant smuggling, bank fraud, corruption and large-scale frauds.

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