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Mayors Urge Federal Response to Escalating Extortion Targeting Indo-Canadians

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Mayors Patrick Brown of Brampton, Ontario, and Brenda Locke of Surrey, British Columbia, have jointly called on the Canadian government to take action against the increasing wave of extortion attempts that have specifically targeted businesses within the Indo-Canadian community. The mayors addressed their concerns in a letter to Canada’s Public Safety Minister, Dominic LeBlanc, emphasizing the severity of the situation and the need for urgent intervention.

Expressing “deep concern” over the surge in extortion attempts and associated violent acts, including shootings, the mayors highlighted the gravity of the threats, primarily directed at members of the South Asian business community. Both the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) and local police departments, such as Peel Regional Police (PRP), have acknowledged the seriousness of the situation.

In the joint letter, the mayors implored the federal government to prioritize the issue and collaborate with local and provincial authorities, as well as relevant federal agencies, to formulate a comprehensive strategy to address the growing threat of extortion.

The extortion attempts have seen a notable increase in recent months, with reported cases spanning the Lower Mainland region of British Columbia, including Surrey, and the Greater Toronto Area (GTA), which includes Brampton. Similar incidents have also been reported in Edmonton, Alberta, where arson attempts have been linked to extortion.

Local law enforcement in Abbotsford, British Columbia, has suggested a potential connection to Indian gangs, particularly those associated with Lawrence Bishnoi. To date, there have been 16 reported cases in the GTA, 35 in the Lower Mainland, and 18 in Edmonton, with ongoing investigations into arson attempts connected to extortion.

A community forum addressing the issue was held in Surrey on January 6, organized by Satish Kumar, the president of Lakshmi Narayan Mandir. The forum aimed to discuss concerns related to drive-by shootings and extortion calls following a shooting incident at Kumar’s son’s residence on December 27.

Peel Regional Police announced earlier this month that they were investigating a disturbing trend of extortion attempts targeting Indo-Canadian businesses. To address the issue, an Extortion Investigative Task Force was established, and a hotline for reporting threats was launched. Currently, 16 incidents in the GTA are under investigation, with additional cases in Edmonton and the Metro Vancouver region.

Edmonton Police Service reported on January 4 that 18 investigations were ongoing in Alberta’s capital, resulting in six arrests related to shooting and arson incidents connected to the extortion series. The suspects include Parminder Singh, Hassan Dembil, Manav Heer, and Ravinder Sandu, facing charges ranging from firearms offenses to arson-related offenses.

The Bishnoi gang, led by Satinderjeet Singh (Goldy Brar) based in Brampton, has been linked to criminal activities. Brar, associated with the killing of Punjabi entertainer Sidhu Moose Wala, has been declared a terrorist by the Indian government. The intersection between gangs and separatist groups has prompted concerns, with India warning about the linkages. Notably, these allegations against Brar have not been tested in a Canadian court.

The joint plea from the mayors underscores the need for coordinated efforts at the federal level to address the escalating threat of extortion and violence targeting the Indo-Canadian community.

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