As they say it, How the West was Once
As they say it, How the West was Once
As the number of RCMP investigators tackling the terrorism threat continues to grow, it is raising concerns that other important federal cases are taking a back seat.
Last October, RCMP Commissioner Bob Paulson told a Senate committee that 300 investigators had been pulled from organized crime and financial crime cases to help support 170 members dedicated to RCMP-led Integrated National Security Enforcement Teams across the country.
The number of re-assigned investigators is closer to 500 now, a senior law enforcement source told Postmedia News this week, adding that the number fluctuates daily.
If this trend continues, there is a legitimate concern that organized crime â€” which takes the form of drug trafficking, human smuggling, identity theft, money laundering and fraud â€” could â€œflourish,â€ Pierre-Yves Bourduas, a retired RCMP deputy commissioner, said Wednesday.
In Bourduasâ€™ opinion, the No. 1 threat remains organized crime and the No. 1 â€œweapon of mass destructionâ€ is drugs. If these are allowed to go unchecked or are given less attention, â€œthen there might be consequences for Canadian society writ large.â€
â€œItâ€™s a delicate balance,â€ he said.
The federal government has a decision to make, said Garry Clement, a retired superintendent who was in charge of the RCMPâ€™s proceeds of crime program. Does the RCMP focus on one area? Or does it get additional resources to continue with other parts of its mandate?
For now, he said, â€œitâ€™s a great day for organized crime.â€
FRANK BOURASSA IS AN AMUSED, easygoing man of 44 whose standard answer, when you ask him why he beat up such-and-such a person, or got stabbed by so-and-so, or committed this or that felony, is “I don’t know, I guess for fun.” On a website he recently launched, Frank describes himself as an “insane million making Master earner,” though he does not necessarily look like an insane million-making master earner. He is a shortish guy with a nocturnal, indoorsy complexion and a faux-hawk hairdo that sometimes looks fussed over but usually not. He has a big belly that started coming into focus a few years back, during his house arrest for a pot charge. He favors old T-shirts and complicated jeans with lots of pockets and zippers, which, actually, probably did set him back a buck or two. He drives an aging Mitsubishi Eclipse in which I think I counted three different apparatuses for affixing Oakley-style sunglasses to the flip-down visors. You see, an insane master earner who makes his millions by illegitimate means “can’t just drive around in a Ferrari,” Frank explained.
“If I need a luxury car, there are luxury cars I can use, but most of everything I buy, I have to go through somebody else. You have to have discipline, or otherwise you get caught. I’m a silent partner in many things.”
Frank’s self-image may be described as not merely healthy but hyperpituitary. When I asked him where he found the lunatic gumption not only to enter into the risky business of counterfeiting but to do so at the unheard-of scale of hundreds of millions of dollars, Frank replied with a shrug: “I can do anything I want. I can go to the moon. I’m good at figuring out stuff. I could do a heart transplant if I wanted to.”
Are we to take Frank at his word? Should he be allowed by NASA to attempt a lunar landing? Should he perform your father’s triple bypass? I will say only this: Do not discount someone who apparently launched a currency-fraud scheme so cunning that he was able to rook the Secret Service and the Canadian government and then walk away from the whole mess a free and wealthy man.
This is what he did.
WHEN MOST PEOPLE look at a dollar bill, we don’t see a material object; we see magicâ€”a totem embodying luck, labor, destiny, and one’s essential value compared with that of the guy next door. Or if we look at money practically and technically, we see such a profusion of security features as to make the notion of faking one a ludicrous impossibility. But as Frank began delving into the matter, his research bore out a simple but life-altering revelation: Limitless wealth was a craft project. Frank started loitering in counterfeiters’ chat rooms. He paid a few visits to the U.S. Secret Service’s website, which, handily, offers an in-depth illustrated guide to serial numbers, watermarks, plate numbers, and all the other fussy obstacles to the counterfeiter’s art. “It would be difficult, but obviously currency is made by human hands, so it would be physically possible to do,” Frank said. “But I thought, if I’m going to do this, I’ll go big or go home.”
Serious counterfeiters do not spend their money themselves but instead sell in bulk, and the going rate for a good bill, the Internet informed Frank, was 30 percent of face value. He reasoned that if he was going to put himself through the hassle and expense of buying supplies and so on, he should print enough in a single batch to leave himself set for life. He figured something in the $200 million range would suffice. It should be stated plainly that by the standards of most counterfeiters, printing $200-plus million is not going bigâ€”it is going insane. In fact, the hubristic volume of the operation would prove, in ways Frank did not intend, to be a major blessing in later days, when Frank’s fortune would take a turn for the worse.
Drawing on cautionary news reports of failed counterfeiters, Frank sketched out a set of best-practice guidelines for his new concern. First, “don’t ever try to pass the money yourself. You want to be as far away as possible from where the money’s being spent.” Second, “don’t sell your stuff to anyone who’s going to be passing it locally. I knew from the beginning, I needed to sell my bills to Europe or Asia.” Third, resist the temptation to print big bills. “Do twenties. It’s stupid to try to pass hundred-dollar bills anymore. People look at them all day long, hold it up to the light and everything. Nobody looks twice at a twenty.” Fourth, don’t cheap out. Most of the people who try their luck at counterfeiting do so by breathtakingly broke-dick means, with stuff you can buy at Office Depot.
“Can you make bills on a $50 ink-jet? Sure, if you want to get busted right away,” said Frank. “All the security features in a bill are basically there to stop broke fucking-moron assholes who are trying to do their thing on an ink-jet. I knew if I wanted to succeed, my bills had to be as perfect as possible, as close as possible to the way the bills are actually made.”
I canâ€™t wait till the story of the entire counterfeiting ring comes out.
Last week Ford invited myself and some other bloggers to the RCMP barracks in Regina to an event hosted by the RCMP, SGI, and Ford (via their Capital Ford dealership) about the dangers of distracted driving.
After going to the closed course, we were joined by high school students from Regina who according to their media interviews, all drove while texting, surfing the web, and using social media and really saw nothing wrong with it. Â The problem with it is that distracted driving kills more people in Saskatchewan than driving under the influence and RCMP are finding more and more accident scenes where there are no skid marks people didn’t even brake.
They set up several stations. Â One was a closed course about driving while texting. Â That didn’t go so well. Â Surprisingly at another station, most people could not even eat and drive at the same time (which reinforced what several cops have told me over the years), and another one features people fixing their hair and putting on makeup while driving. Â The end result was there was pylons flying all over a course that was not that challenging. Â
What was scary was even as the kids got out of the cars and walked to their next station, what were they doing? Â Texting. Â It going to be a long road ahead if we are going to change this but it was a good start by Ford, SGI, and the RCMP in changing minds. Â Of course who do they learn this behaviour from? Â Their parents. Â While kids text on the phone, parents in Saskatchewan talk and drive on the phone (and we aren’t talking hands free either). Â It all needs to stop.
The RCMP also had a crime scene investigation display where they had their Dragonfly drones out on display (I really wanted to fly one) and had a couple of accident scenes set up. Â My only regret for the day was that I never asked the RCMP if I could test drive this.
How much fun would a high speed chase be on a RCMP tricycle? Â I could have taken on any mall cop in the greater Regina area.
I posted the rest of the photos from the day here.
An internal RCMP investigation into a series of sex and drinking escapades in a staff sergeantâ€™s office revealed a pattern of sexual harassment so disturbing that senior Ottawa Mounties say it will take â€œconsiderable effort to rebuild the damaged trust of our organization.â€
The investigation, which has not been made public until now, reviewed seven reports about the misconduct of Staff Sgt. Don Ray, the officer in charge of the polygraph unit at Albertaâ€™s RCMP headquarters in Edmonton.
Internal Affairs investigators discovered Sgt. Ray was hosting after-hours parties in his office and kept a bar fridge stocked with Budweiser and Appleton Jamaica Rum. Sgt. Ray would encourage female subordinates to drink and make sexual advances when alone with them, the investigation found.
In April 2009, close to the end of one work day, Sgt. Ray invited his staff to a private office party at which he invited them to sit down and have a drink.
One of his female subordinates consumed four beers over two hours, and once the others left, Sgt. Ray unzipped his pants, exposed himself and told her to touch his penis, according to RCMP files. She refused.
â€œS/Sgt. Ray then wanted to have sexual intercourse with Ms. A, which she refused. S/Sgt. Ray insisted but Ms. A. maintained her refusal. They then both left the building without further sexual contact,â€ a senior disciplinary officer wrote in his findings in February.
The investigation said Sgt. Ray exhibited a â€œserialâ€ pattern of â€œdisgracefulâ€ conduct.
Sgt. Rayâ€™s behaviour is the latest in a series of complaints of sexual harassment and discrimination levelled against the RCMP across the country.
A high-profile RCMP veteran, Cpl. Catherine Galliford, ignited the controversy last fall by speaking publicly about her internal allegations of sexual harassment and abuse by former male colleagues.
The sad thing is that it gets worse and itâ€™s only one of many negative stories coming out lately of RCMP misconduct.