VANCOUVER, B.C. – Vancouver police say they’ve arrested six people and dismantled a crime group responsible for much of the gun violence in the city.
A warrant has been issued for a seventh man on four counts of firearms charges.
Police said Thursday the six men in custody are all part of the Sanghera crime group, which police have previously said is involved in a vicious gang war partly responsible for hundreds of shootings in recent years and almost four dozen already this year.
There have been 21 confirmed shooting deaths in the Greater Vancouver region since mid-January, and police across the region have announced several arrests in recent weeks.
“Let me make this clear: Police in the Vancouver region are taking a very hard line against gangs. If you are involved in gang violence, we will find you. It may not be today or tomorrow but you should know that we will not rest, we will not give up,” Vancouver Police Chief Jim Chu said at a news conference announcing the arrests.
Police showed reporters dramatic video of three men being arrested outside their homes on Wednesday.
The arrests are part of Project Rebellion, which was launched last October. Chu has said the project is meant to target the most violent gang members, with an attempt to intercede before shootings and murders happen.
When announcing a previous round of gang arrests in March, Chu and Insp. Mike Porteous, head of Project Rebellion, said the city’s southeast sector has been the turf for a vicious battle between the Sanghera group and a gang they call the Buttar group.
The two are killing each other over profit and territory, police said then.
At that time, police said they’d arrested Udham Singh Sanghera, 58, the purported leader of the Sanghera group.
Deputy Police Chief Doug LeTard said Thursday the arrests will make the streets safer.
“In a gang war, the streets of our communities have too often been a battleground,” he told reporters. “By getting these criminal off the streets and into jail, we are making our community safer for everyone.”
Earlier this month police announced arrests in a mass killing of six men found dead in a Surrey, B.C., apartment building in October 2007. Police said the men arrested in the mass killing were members of a gang called the Red Scorpions.
Last week, police announced the arrests of three men on charges of conspiring to kill three brothers police allege are the leaders of the Red Scorpions gang.