Around 4,000 local gang members, associates in city: Winnipeg police

Click to play video: 'As Winnipeg police deal with city’s latest homicide, numbers show one-third of murders in the city are gang related'
As Winnipeg police deal with city’s latest homicide, numbers show one-third of murders in the city are gang related
Global News' Brittany Greenslade reports on the connection between Winnipeg gangs and the city's alarming homicide rate – Nov 5, 2019

Winnipeg is on pace to break the homicide record – 41 – set in 2011, and one-third of murders in the city this year have been tied to gangs.

Insp. Max Waddell of the Winnipeg police Guns and Gangs Unit told 680 CJOB police estimate around 1,500 gang members and 2,500 associates in the city, spread out over anywhere from 25-30 different gangs.

Gang numbers overall in the city have remained static, but the associated violence has increased in 2019, said Waddell, who said gangs prey on vulnerable newcomers.

Some newcomers from countries such as Somalia, Kenya, Congo, those types of communities where they’ve come really from a very violent background, it’s not abnormal for them to have witnessed those types of violent acts when they do arrive in Canada,” said Waddell.

“For them to commit those types of violent acts is really not out of the ordinary for them to to be a part of.”

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That violence, he said, is often then tied into the drug trade.

“Gang members are utilizing firearms to protect not only their own drugs but to protect themselves from other gang members. They’re competing over territories, they’re competing over business, and that can cause conflict,” he said.

Although police make hundreds of gang-related arrests each year, Waddell said it’s important that the root causes are addressed.

“With a large newcomer community coming to Winnipeg, and them not fitting in with society here in Winnipeg – at least initially – they’re looking for that bond, that mentorship piece.

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“They’re preyed upon. It’s the lure of not only belonging, but it’s money… it’s things they wouldn’t normally be able to have.”

Waddell and his unit aren’t the only Winnipeggers on the front line in the fight against gang violence.

Gang Prevention Coordinator Dallas Vannus told 680 CJOB his role, part of a new initiative by the city and police, is all about prevention.

“I develop the gang prevention presentation for young kids as well as teenage kids,” said Vannus. “I also do gang awareness for adults – schoolteachers, administrators, college-level people – and I talk about gangs and the dynamics of them.”

Vannus said while he does work with gang members trying to exit the lifestyle, his main focus is on keeping kids out of gangs in the first place.

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“If you have an at-risk kid or a young troubled adult, just someone who can use some extra supports… then I strive to work with existing resources and government agencies to try to meet the needs of those at-risk kids.”

“Sometimes it’s as simple as recognizing the kids who are at risk.”

Despite his involvement with gang prevention, Vannus said it’s difficult even for him to pinpoint the exact number of gangs in Winnipeg that kids could fall into.

“The thing with the street-level gangs is they can splinter off,” he said. “Their organization and structure isn’t there.

“It’s definitely hard to say and put an exact number to that.”


Click to play video: 'They come to Canada looking for a better life but a new gang threatens that'
They come to Canada looking for a better life but a new gang threatens that



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