What is a Gang?

The Criminal Code doesn’t use the term ‘gang.’ What many would consider a criminal gang is referred to in the Criminal Code as a ‘criminal organization.’ These ‘criminal organizations’ or gangs are defined, in general terms, as any group of three of more people that collaborate on an ongoing basis to profit from serious criminal activity.

It is an offence under the Criminal Code to be a member of a criminal organization, to participate in activities for the benefit of any criminal organization and to direct members of a criminal organization. Put simply, any criminal related gang activity is illegal. Being found guilty of any criminal organization related charges can add anywhere from five years to life imprisonment on top of any other sentences imposed.

Typically, Calgary gangs do not wear uniforms or ‘colours.’ They generally do not claim ownership of particular areas of the city, or ‘turf.’ They operate citywide, in every community. If you see graffiti in your neighborhood it does not necessarily mean you have a gang problem, as Calgary gangs, with some exception, generally do not ‘advertise’ with graffiti.

One of the primary criminal activities that gangs use to support themselves is drug trafficking. Cocaine, marijuana, methamphetamine, ecstasy and a host of other illegal drugs are often their primary economic engine. Gangs will also seek to profit from a variety of other illegal enterprises including theft, fraud, cybercrime, extortion, prostitution, human trafficking, kidnapping, credit card skimming, identity theft and other illicit activities.

In Calgary, gangs primarily exist to profit from victimization and crime, period. Gangs can be ruthless when protecting their operations, their members and even their egos. Beyond intimidation and threats they will resort to extreme acts of violence, up to and including murder, to advance their cause.