It is feared that the recent shooting in Vancouver of an Indo-Canadian gangster linked to Dhak and Dhuhre gangs may just be the beginning of the return of gang violence in the region which was at its peak in the mid 2000s. Over 120 gangs involved in the drug trade in British Columbia are in a tussle to fill the vacuum left by the death of a few gang leaders in the past.
Police too had openly announced that anyone with links to the Indo-Canadian dominated Duhre and Dhak gangs could be at risk. Police feel that gang war may return to Vancouver as the gangs are trying to fill the vacuum created by death of some of their leaders in the recent past.
There have been 12 attempts on the lives of people who are directly or even loosely connected to South Asian gangs. The victims of these attack include Gurbinder Singh (Bin) Toor, 35, Thomas Gisby, 47, Harm Gill , Sean Beaver , Sandip (Dip) Duhre , UN gang member Sal Sahbaz, Thomas Gisby , Stephen Leone , Manjinder Hairan , Billy Woo and Jujhar Singh Khun-Khun .
The Duhre gang was led by three brothers: Sandip, Balraj and Paul Duhre but Sandip was executed early this year. According to the police, Duhre gang is reported to have 50 to 100 street soldiers. The Duhres emerged as a powerful gang after the arrests of United Nations and Red Scorpion leaders in 2010.
Police say the Duhres have taken control of the Fraser Valley drug trade and have been trying to spread across Metro Vancouver. The Duhre gang is allied with the Dhak gang of Sukhvir Singh Dhak.
The United Nations and Independent Soldiers are other multi-ethnic gangs that have many South Asian members whose roots can be traced back to Bindy Johal.
Now considerably fewer Indians in British Columbia are involved with gangsters due to intense police interventions. However for much of the 1990s and early 2000s dozens of young Indo-Canadians became victims of internecine wars between rival drug-dealers and criminals.
In early 90s, Indo-Canadians entered the territorial and violent drug trade in the region. At its centre was the BC Bud, or cannabis from British Columbia, that was profitably exported to the United States and Mexico. Indo-Canadians are part of the distribution trade, usually at an intermediary level, leading to violent outcomes with over a hundred murders in the last 15 years.
Others like the Dhak and Duhre brothers, once associated with Bindy Johal, are now considered to be the principal drug trafficking group in the Fraser Valley region of British Columbia. These gangs are fighting it out with other major gangs to control the BC drug trade.
Membership can be fluid and there are various levels of gang affiliation. Criminals may move between gangs that come and go.
Indo-Canadians who have been known to be educated and law abiding citizens have in the region become intensely involved in the drug trade.
Their descent into a life of criminality and violence seems to challenge every notion held about Asian immigrants being peaceful.
Given the heavy presence of Punjabi-Canadians in the trucking industry, the transportation of illegal drugs was perhaps a natural extension of their business operations.
At one point, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police ranked the Indo-Canadian gangs as the third most powerful criminal organisation in the province.
Many have blamed the parent's non-involvement in their children's lives since they are too busy buying homes and amassing wealth.
It is a known fact in the community that while parents remain out of the house working day and night, children are taken care of by grandparents who are brought in from India.
Facing systemic and overt racism and violence, many youths in conflict with their parents have turned to gangs for acceptance.
Gang leaders use the young wannabes, who want to prove themselves, to commit high-risk crimes.
A social activist Balraj Singh who is concerned about this gang culture while talking to HT said, "As families struggle to integrate within Canadian society, youths lose sight of their familial or cultural identities and when they don't find that at home or in their subculture, they become vulnerable to the allure of gangs which offer acceptance, thrill and cash."