You have influence
Have you seen signs? Is someone you know in a gang? Here’s what to do.
Performed in organized crime related matters since 2018
Laid against persons involved in organized crime matters since 2018
Dangerous weapons removed from communities by ALERT since 2018
Seized in proceeds of crime that harm Alberta's economy since 2018
In light of high profile investigations in the past year alone, ALERT has seized enough illicit drugs from organized crime to purchase the world’s largest passenger aircraft.
That’s over $300,000,000 in drugs.
*Data represents all firearm seizures by ALERT, irrespective of organized crime involvement.
*Data represents all criminal charges from investigations, irrespective of organized crime involvement.
Organized crime groups are legally defined through the Criminal Code as Criminal Organizations: a group, however organized, that is comprised of three or more persons in or outside Canada; and has as one of its main purposes or main activities the facilitation or commission of one or more serious offences that, if committed, would likely result in the direct or indirect receipt of a material benefit, including a financial benefit, by the group or by any of the persons who constitute the group.
ALERT’s overarching mission is to target criminal groups that have as a goal committing crimes for profit. In Alberta, many powerful organized crime groups don’t advertise themselves as a group or as part of commonly constructed categories such as Outlaw Motorcycle Gangs, Street Gangs, or Mafia. Community-derived criminal networks are often formed from connections – who you know, and what opportunities are presented to you: do you take them?
Unlike sometimes portrayed, OCG members can appear as regular people. While some may overtly display glamour, others may not. They may also occupy a normal job on top of (or to facilitate) their criminal activities.
While OCGs can vary in level of sophistication, they can operate like a well-functioning company with happy employees and good profits. Like any company, they have to network, attract clients, and recruit workers.
Many individuals became involved in organized crime through community-derived connections. While it isn't always location dependent, the people you know, meet and options presented to you play an important role in organized crime.
Outlaw Motorcycle Clubs are prominent in Alberta. In Canada, they have over 150 support groups used for violence, trafficking, providing specialized skills, and more.
In Alberta, street gangs exist. They can vary in levels of sophistication, and can contract the services they offer to larger criminal networks and other groups.
Here’s what they’re up to – it’s not pretty.
That shooting nearby? Overdose at the bus stop? Dirty money? Your cousin’s car – gone?
Organized crime is closer than you think, but harder to pick out than ever before.
Illicit drugs is the top commodity for organized crime. OCGs are involved in the precursor (think ingredients) acquisition/importation, drug production (think cooking), distribution, and exportation. In Alberta, OCG involvement in fentanyl trafficking is the dominant OCG-related drug threat.
Organized crime groups are responsible for firearm trafficking, modifying guns, acquiring and distributing magazines and supplies. They also use dangerous weapons themselves throughout the violence sometimes required to maintain their operations.
In 2020, 72% of Canadian of gang-related homicides were committed with a firearm.
Alberta Law Enforcement Response Teams is committed to tackling firearm violence linked to organized crime and drug trafficking. Since it’s establishment in 2006, ALERT has seized over 1,700 firearms.
MAC-10 Submachine Gun (1,200 Rounds /minute)
Mossberg .22 Rifle
High-threat level groups are particularly strategic with their violence in order to gain more control and further their criminal means. A high-level threat group exists in Alberta.
When an organized crime group carries out violence, it’s not always for their own needs. OCGs can be contracted to carry out violence for other OCGs, in an effort to isolate criminal liability.
Organized crime groups at any level of sophistication may use violence even within their own organization to maintain order, discipline and structure. Anyone within the group can be affected by violence.
Criminal organizations at all levels of sophistication can use violence to further their means, yet the reasons for violence will differ. Some will use it offensively while others defensively. Reasons for violence can also change depending on the criminal market – for instance, human trafficking is inherently violent.
While organized crime violence exists, the extent to which it is used and how it affects criminal organizations and communities is dynamic and variable. Any time drugs (or another illegal commodity) and firearms are mixed, a potential for significant violence exists. However, different groups may use more or less violence and this may fluctuate over time. Some groups may be known to be more violent whereas others not.
OCG violence may indirectly impact a community through the collateral damage of rival OCGs doing “RIPS” on each other. One organization may rip off another organization – not necessarily over territory but rather for financial or commodity gain.
Youth involvement in organized crime can vary substantially by region, group, and criminal markets the groups are involved in. The reasons for young people joining an organized crime group can vary too – sometimes it’s the prospect of money and glamour, sometimes it’s for a sense of belonging, protection or any other reason. While youth involvement in organized crime may provide income, the illegal income can vary and comes with significant risks for the young person. For example, customers may be violent/steal from youth as easy targets.
While youth may sometimes be involved in organized crime, they are also often victims of organized crime when friends, parents or adults around them are involved. It’s also common for youth to be victims of human trafficking, which often implicates organized crime.
Have you seen signs? Is someone you know in a gang? Here’s what to do.
See if they’re open to exiting the gang. Let them know you’re supportive.
Be a listener. Help identify their personal hurdles and support them in making a plan.
Help them find education, work or hobby related opportunities.
Encourage relationships with people or institutions that are completely removed from gang life.
Gangs are dead-ends. No matter what you’ve done, you deserve better.
Sports, family time, old hobbies.
Making people feel afraid of you doesn’t help you feel good about yourself.
Distance yourself. Find any and all reasons to not hang out with your gang.
Connect with someone you can talk to who believes in you and your exit.
The Gang Exit and Community Outreach Services (GECOS) program is funded by the Government of Canada, Gangs and Guns Violence Action Fund. GECOS is operated province-wide by the Alberta Justice and Solicitor General in partnership with the Edmonton, Calgary, Red Deer, Grande Prairie John Howard Societies and the Lethbridge/Medicine Hat McMan Youth, Family and Community Services Association.
GECOS is available to individuals interested in exiting, or have affiliation with gangs who are incarcerated in a Government of Alberta adult or young offender correctional facility, or who are residing in the community.
GECOS involvement is voluntary and participants must exhibit willingness and motivation to achieve mutually established case planning goals to exit gang lifestyles.
GECOS’ overriding objective is to end participant involvement with the justice system by accessing available wrap-around community resources including:
Edmonton JHS GECOS
Grande Prairie JHS GECOS
Calgary JHS GECOS
Red Deer JHS GECOS
Lethbridge McMan Youth, Family and Community Services GECOS
*If a participant feels their safety is endangered by attempting to exit a gang, they must contact 911 for police assistance.
 – Criminal Intelligence Service Canada
 – Criminal Code (R.S.C., 1985, c. C-46)
 – Adapted from the combined information of ALERT Subject Matter Expertise and Criminal Intelligence Service Canada
 – Statistics Canada: Trends in firearm-related violent crime in Canada, 2009 to 2020.
 – Adapted from resources created by the Combined Forces Special Enforcement Unit of British Columbia, in combination with ALERT Subject Matter Expertise