Tuesday, February 27, 2024

Mayors Unite: Urgent Action Needed as Extortionists Target Indians in Canada

by Antariksh Singh

In a joint effort to address an escalating wave of extortion threats targeting the Indian and South Asian business communities, mayors in the Canadian towns of Brampton and Surrey have issued a fervent appeal to the government, urging swift action to curb the menacing trend.

Expressing deep concern over the rising number of extortion attempts and violent acts, including shootings, Brampton Mayor Patrick Brown and Surrey Mayor Brenda Locke penned a letter addressed to Canada’s Public Safety Minister Dominic LeBlanc. The letter highlighted the severity and widespread nature of the threats, emphasizing their predominant focus on members of the South Asian business community.

The mayors underscored the acknowledgment of the gravity of the situation by law enforcement agencies, including the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) and local police departments, such as Peel Regional Police. Peel police recently launched the Extortion Investigative Task Force to probe 16 incidents of extortion, shedding light on the distressing circumstances surrounding these criminal activities.

According to CP24 news channel, the suspects demonstrate a disturbing level of knowledge about the victims, including names, phone numbers, addresses, and business information. They utilize social media platforms to contact their targets and employ threats of violence to extort money. The mayors urged the federal government to prioritize the issue, fostering collaboration with local and provincial authorities and necessary federal agencies to devise a comprehensive strategy against these extortion threats.

In their letter, the mayors stressed the imperative role of the federal government, particularly the Ministry of Public Safety, in facilitating a unified approach to tackle the complexity and inter-jurisdictional nature of these crimes. They proposed leveraging the resources and intelligence capabilities of the RCMP in conjunction with local law enforcement agencies.

The mayors emphasized that these incidents have instilled fear within their respective communities. Brampton Mayor Patrick Brown underscored the need for a clear message from the Justin Trudeau government that such incidents will not be tolerated.

In a related development, police in Edmonton, Alberta, announced the investigation of 18 extortion incidents believed to be linked to a series of arson and drive-by shootings. The police reported six arrests related to extortion, shootings, and arson, with Parminder Singh, 20, in custody for 12 firearms-related charges.

A leaked “Law Enforcement Only” bulletin revealed that suspects were using WhatsApp to contact victims, threatening violence after demanding large sums of money. The bulletin linked the suspects to a gang in India led by Lawrence Bishnoi, targeting affluent members of the South Asian community.

The community’s anxiety reached a critical point when, on December 27, 2023, as many as 14 shots were fired at the residence of the son of the head of a Hindu temple in British Columbia. While no extortion calls or letters were reported, the escalating violence has left residents on edge, with community leaders echoing the need for immediate and decisive action to safeguard the well-being of their members.

Antariksh Singh

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