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B.C. anti-gang agency warns ‘younger and younger’ people getting involved in gangs

Click to play video: 'Police seize drugs, weapons and cash during organized crime blitz in B.C.’s Interior' Police seize drugs, weapons and cash during organized crime blitz in B.C.’s Interior
WATCH: A provincial anti-gang agency was hard at work in the Okanagan this summer trying to disrupt organized crime and the violence it causes. On Wednesday, police showed media the results of their month long blitz: seizures of drugs, crash and weapons. And as Megan Turcato reports, officers noted a disturbing trend with the firearms they are taking off the streets. – Sep 21, 2022

Police are seeing younger and young people becoming involved in gangs and drug dealing, the Combined Forces Special Enforcement Unit of BC (CFSEU-BC) said.

CFSEU-BC Supt. Alison Laurin made the remark at a Kelowna press conference on Wednesday where police laid out the results of a summer gang enforcement blitz in the B.C. Interior.

Read more: ‘Equivalent to 29,000 lethal doses of fentanyl’ seized in the Okanagan: BC CFSEU

“We know from individuals trying to leave the gang life that one of the top reasons youth become involved in gangs is for a sense of belonging. They are drawn in by the myth of easy money and a false sense of loyalty from the group,” Laurin said.

“Gangs use many tactics including music videos and social media as well as more traditional methods such as blackmail, creating indebtedness or participation in violence to recruit new members.”

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Click to play video: 'B.C. anti-gang agency says younger and younger people getting involved in organized crime' B.C. anti-gang agency says younger and younger people getting involved in organized crime
B.C. anti-gang agency says younger and younger people getting involved in organized crime – Sep 21, 2022

Laurin’s message to the community is that there is a role for the public to play in tackling organized crime.

“As a community we need to make sure our youth are able to find a sense of belonging in other ways whether it is through strong positive family bonds, sports and a connection to school and education, a job or a social club,” Laurin said.

“The police alone cannot end gang life and we need the support of the communities of the Thompson-Okanagan.”

Laurin encouraged those hoping to help a friend or family member leave organized crime to contact police directly.

“You can help the police by calling us and telling us what you know. Every piece of intelligence assists in our investigations and provides police an opportunity to discuss with you options for getting your friend or family member out of the gang life,” Laurin said.

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Read more: Growing concern over ‘trend’ of young men involved in gang and gun violence

Meanwhile, CFSEU-BC also noticed a concerning trend in the firearms they were seizing during the summer gang enforcement activities in the Okanagan and Kamloops areas: airsoft guns that had been converted to fire live ammunition.

“This is an area of significant concern as airsoft style firearms are typically much easier to obtain and subject to less regulation,” said Laurin.

RCMP have previously raised concerns about the issues posed by airsoft guns as they can be easily confused with real firearms.

Click to play video: 'B.C. anti-gang agency details items seized during Thompson-Okanagan blitz' B.C. anti-gang agency details items seized during Thompson-Okanagan blitz
B.C. anti-gang agency details items seized during Thompson-Okanagan blitz – Sep 21, 2022

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