Plans to fight escalating gang violence in the Lower Mainland by adding more police and tightening bail and sentencing laws might exacerbate the problem instead of making it better, says one gang expert.

The gang war is driven by the drug trade and turf feuds, said Ehor Boyanowsky, a criminology professor at Simon Fraser University who specializes in gangs and youth violence.

Anything that drastically disrupts the natural course of business, such as a major string of arrests, will create a hole that needs to be filled.

 

“These (wars) are going to crop up on a regular basis as (groups) get opportunities for moving into certain territories – people moving out and (others) being rounded up by the police,” Boyanowsky said.

“Nature hates a vacuum and gangsters (will) move into those empty spaces to vie for territory.”

Boyanowsky likened Vancouver today to the Chicago of the prohibition era, adding that the illegality of alcohol in the 1920s, and of drugs today, allows gangs to flourish and participate in “unprecedented violence.”

He said the only way to truly take power away from gangs is to legalize and regulate drugs.

“Nobody kills anybody over alcohol,” he said.

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