Whether large or small in scale, organized crime has an effect on the daily lives of all Albertans. That’s why one of ALERT’s main goals is to disrupt and dismantle organized crime.
+ WHAT IS THE DEFINITION OF ORGANIZED CRIME?
Under the Criminal Code of Canada, a “criminal organization” is defined as a group of three or more people, either inside or outside Canada, whose main purpose or activity is the facilitation or commission of serious criminal offences that, if committed, would likely result in material benefits (including financial benefit) for at least one member of the group. 
This definition, however, excludes a group of three or more people that formed randomly for the immediate commission of a single offence. 
+ WHAT DIFFERENT TYPES OF CRIMINAL ORGANIZATIONS ARE THERE?
Many criminal organizations ALERT encounters are very loosely organized. Often they are small groups of people who have become associated for the sole purpose of trafficking drugs or carrying out other small crimes. These organizations usually have no name, no logo and no formalized internal structure.
Street gangs are somewhat more sophisticated; many have established names and are more structured. Some base membership on ethnicity. Many are linked to other criminal organizations, either formally or informally, and work together to traffic drugs and carry out other criminal activities.
Outlaw motorcycle groups (OMGs) are perhaps the most organized and most notorious criminal organizations operating in Alberta. The Hells Angels Motorcycle Club is the most prominent OMG in the province, with at least five chapters operating out of various cities. They are also associated with several support clubs – like the Dirty Few, Syndicate and Tribal – who carry out lower-level dirty work for them. OMGs can also engage in violent rivalries with each other; the Hells Angels and their support clubs are believed to be feuding with another club, the Warlocks, in Fort McMurray.
+ WHAT ACTIVITIES ARE CRIMINAL ORGANIZATIONS INVOLVED IN?
- Drug trafficking
- Financial crimes (fraud, counterfeiting, money laundering)
- Firearms trafficking
- Human trafficking
- Organized vehicle theft and re-VINning
+ WHAT ARE SOME SIGNS THAT A PERSON IS ASSOCIATED WITH A CRIMINAL ORGANIZATION?
When it comes to street gangs, changes in the way a person looks can be the first indicator that he/she has become involved. This may include tattoos or a decline in hygiene. Changes in behavior and performance on the job or in school may also be indicators.
Some outlaw motorcycle group (OMG) members are easy to spot, as they wear leather vests bearing their club’s name and logo on the back, or have tattoos or jewelry with the club’s logo. Associates of OMGs may be more subtle, however, wearing sweaters with slogans that aren’t widely known or that bear names of individual chapters rather than that of the OMG itself (e.g. “Westridge” instead of “Hells Angels”). In the particular case of the Hells Angels, merchandise showing support of the club may prominently feature the number 81, which stands for “HA” – H being the eighth letter of the alphabet and A being the first.
+ WHAT ARE SOME SIGNS OF STREET GANG ACTIVITY IN A COMMUNITY?
The presence or increase of the following can indicate gang activity:
- Graffiti and vandalism
- Crime, especially violent offences
- Number of people hanging around in neighbourhoods
- Drug activity