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A wave of extortion hits Indian and South Asian traders across the country

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Edmonton police say this fire in a house under construction in the west of the city in January is believed to be linked to an extortion scheme.

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Criminals attempt to intimidate merchants in order to extort thousands of dollars from them. According to police, these crimes are committed across Canada, particularly in Ontario, Alberta and British Columbia. However, these criminals directly target merchants of South Asian origin.

In addition, they do not hesitate to use guns to get their message across.

This violence has a direct effect on the lives of the Indian, Pakistani, Sri Lankan and Bangladeshi communities. I know people who travel in armored vehicles, who wear body armor to work, who have increased security in their homes, says Brampton, Ontario city councilor Gurpartap Singh Toor.

At least 74 extortion investigations targeting South Asian traders are currently underway across police forces across the country, according to the CBC .

In addition, according to the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP), this wave of crimes is linked to organized crime .

In December, a car dealership with three dealerships in suburban Toronto received a call on the WhatsApp mobile app. The person on the line claimed that he had to give him an amount of money otherwise his business would be the target of attacks.

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Two days later, the man – who asked to remain anonymous because he fears for his safety – was walking in the parking lot of one of his dealerships. I felt something under my shoes, then I saw bullet casings. So I looked around me. I saw more than 30 or 40 bullet casings everywhere, he said.

Three armed men entered the parking lot the night before and sprayed 11 vehicles with bullets. The scene was recorded by a security camera.

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The dealership then received another call on WhatsApp. The person demanded money. Instead of paying, he explains that he alerted the police.

A few weeks later, a man showed up at one of the dealerships and handed a phone to an employee. The person on the line demanded 100,000 dollars, otherwise armed men would attack the concession in the same way as the previous time, but in broad daylight this time.

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11 vehicles were damaged by the criminals .

According to Marc Andrews, the deputy police chief of the Peel region in suburban Toronto, the attacks target the South Asian community and are also perpetrated by members of that community.

I can ;state with some degree of confidence as victims claim the languages ​​and accents they identified are South Asian and all of the arrests we have made involve members of the South Asian community.

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Marc Andrews is the deputy police chief of Peel Region.

All victims were members of the South Asian community.

A quote from Marc Andrews, Peel Region Deputy Police Chief

Patrick Brown is the Mayor of Brampton , which is located in Peel Region. Brenda Locke is the mayor of Surrey, British Columbia. In a joint letter to federal Public Safety Minister Dominic LeBlanc sent in mid-January, they expressed their concerns about this wave of extortion.

These events have instilled fear in our communities and highlight the urgent need for a coordinated response involving multiple jurisdictions, they wrote.

In Brampton, where there is a high concentration of people of South Asian origin, many live in terror, according to Mr. Singh Toor. People are worried. People are taking precautionary measures.

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Gurpartap Singh Toor is a municipal councilor in Brampton . (Archives)

Last month, the RCMP announced the creation of a national team responsible for coordinating police investigations into these extortions (New window) .

Peel Region police say there have been 35 attempted murders x27;extortion targeting South Asian traders since October.

The number, frequency and cadence of these extortions are unprecedented, says Andrews. We've never seen this before.

Prior to late fall and early winter, this was not a trend or issue we saw on a regular basis. Then we had a sudden increase in these events which eventually included the use of violence as well as intimidation.

In Edmonton, Alberta, police confirmed they are investigating more than 30 such events. There were more than a dozen arsons. Police are also reporting roadside shootings.

At the same time, Surrey RCMP are investigating at least five potential cases of shootings. ;#x27;extortion. In Abbotsford, British Columbia, investigations were opened following a series of threatening letters sent to local businesses.

RCMP Superintendent Adam MacIntosh confirms that there are links between these crimes and that organized crime is involved.

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Adam MacIntosh of the RCMP says the police officers are investigating more than one organized crime group.

According to Mr. MacIntosh, the police are investigating more than one organized crime group and that they are active in Canada and even internationally.

It's actually' an organized criminal group that extorts money from people for criminal purposes.

It is possible that many crimes were never reported to the police, he adds.

M. Andrews advises victims against paying criminals. I can completely understand the level of fear and worry. But paying doesn't make the problem go away.

With information from CBC

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Teilor Stone

By Teilor Stone

Teilor Stone has been a reporter on the news desk since 2013. Before that she wrote about young adolescence and family dynamics for Styles and was the legal affairs correspondent for the Metro desk. Before joining Thesaxon , Teilor Stone worked as a staff writer at the Village Voice and a freelancer for Newsday, The Wall Street Journal, GQ and Mirabella. To get in touch, contact me through my teilor@nizhtimes.com 1-800-268-7116