January 08, 2015 - 2:47 PM
GANG SETS UP ‘DRUG FRANCHISES’ IN SMALL COMMUNITIES; POLICE BELIEVE VERNON WAS ONE OF THEM
VERNON - Mounties believe the alleged drug runner arrested last month in a targeted police investigation is involved with a relatively new gang calling itself the Unknown Soldiers.
Sgt. Lindsey Houghton with the Combined Forces Special Enforcement Unit of British Columbia says police started hearing about the gang roughly four years ago. After notorious gang leader Jonathan Bacon was murdered outside a Kelowna hotel, Houghton says there was some destabilization of gangs including the Independent Soldiers, and in the upheaval, individuals created a new organization, calling themselves the Unknown Soldiers.
They’re considered an underling gang associated with the Independent Soldiers and based out of the Lower Mainland. Members are typically youths, or fairly young individuals.
“If we liken it to sports teams, you have the Canucks who play in the NHL, and they have a farm team. This (Unknown Soldiers gang) is still considered a farm team of the Independent Soldiers with younger people looking to establish themselves, make a network, get tapped on the shoulder and get bumped up to the big leagues,” Houghton says.
Like other drug gangs, the Unknown Soldiers move around and set up ‘drug franchises’ in communities where they expect to find little resistance. That’s what police believe happened in Vernon: That Daniel Penton, 21, a known firearms trafficker, was sent to the city to set up a business selling illicit drugs, predominantly cocaine and heroin.
“Fortunately we were already well aware of this person and were able to intervene very quickly before violence erupted from his presence,” Houghton says. “These people sometimes have targets on their lives or on their heads.”
Police are celebrating Penton’s arrest as a big win, one that will significantly reduce the risk to public safety, but Houghton is realistic another figure could move in to take his place.
“We’re not naive enough to think removing one person will solve every crime related issue in Vernon,” Houghton says. “When the next name comes up we’ll remove that person too.”
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News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2015