PortandTerminal.com, March 8, 2019
The Port of Vancouver on Canada’s West Coast has had a storied history with organized crime groups such as the Hell’s Angels. A report by the Vancouver Sun in 2015 reported that “more than two dozen of the longshoremen unloading container ships on the docks of Metro Vancouver are Hell’s Angels, their associates, other gangsters or people with serious criminal records”.
Fast-forward to 2019 and little has changed. Organized crime groups continue smuggling large amounts of drugs and illegal goods through British Columbia ports because of widespread corruption and massive profits, according to a 2017 Transport Canada internal report.
Corruption is deep and widespread at the Port of Vancouver, where unionized longshoremen include 27 members of organized crime groups, associates or people with serious criminal records, the report states.
To facilitate their smuggling activities, … OCGs (organized crime groups) are involved in the corruption of port workers, and have embedded members and associates within port facilities by way of legitimate employment.2017 Transport Canada internal report
West Coast Hells Angels spokesperson Rick Ciarnello though has said that there’s nothing sinister about members of his group working at the port.
“I cannot speak for ‘organized crime groups, associates or people with serious criminal records’,” Ciarnello said in an email with newspaper The Toronto Star. “I will, however, speak on behalf of people that go to work every day in order to raise their families. These are not criminals. These are people who have jobs.”
These are not criminals. These are people who have jobs.Rick Ciarnello, West Coast Hell’s Angels spokesperson
What is wrong with having a job? Nothing.
Police say organized crime maintains this foothold on the waterfront for strategic purposes — so drugs and other contraband can be smuggled in some of the more than 1.7 million containers that pass through the four container terminals at Port Metro Vancouver every year.
Just over three per cent of containers arriving here are checked by the Canada Border Services Agency. “It is a concern to us. We feel that a lot of the illegal drugs that come into this country come in through our ports,” said Det.-Staff. Sgt. Len Isnor, the country’s top law enforcement expert on the Hells Angels.
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