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Brampton, Surrey, B.C. mayors express 'deep concern' over extortion threats targeting South Asians


The mayors of Brampton and Surrey, B.C. are urging the federal government to do more to address an “alarming” escalation of extortion threats targeting members of the South Asian business community.

In a letter sent to Canada’s Public Safety Minister Dominic LeBlanc this week, Brampton Mayor Patrick Brown and Surrey Mayor Brenda Locke expressed “deep concern” over a growing number of “extortion attempts and violent acts, including shootings.”

“This alarming development underscores the severity and widespread nature of these threats, which are predominantly targeting members of the South Asian business community. Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) and local police departments including Peel Regional Police, have acknowledged the gravity of the situation,” the letter read.

Peel police recently launched a task force, dubbed the Extortion Investigative Task Force, which is now probing the circumstances surrounding 16 incidents of extortion.

According to police, the victims have been contacted through social media and demands for money were made under “threats of violence, which have occurred in some incidents.”

The suspects, police previously said, often know the name of the victim as well as their phone number, address, and business information.

“The complexity and inter-jurisdictional nature of these crimes necessitate a more comprehensive strategy involving provincial and federal authorities. It is imperative the federal government, through your Ministry, takes a leading role in facilitating this collaboration,” the letter continued.

“By leveraging the resources and intelligence capabilities of the RCMP, in concert with local law enforcement agencies, we can formulate a robust and unified approach to tackle this issue.”

The mayors noted that the incidents have “instilled fear” in their respective communities.

“We are deeply committed to the safety of our residents and the prosperity of our community,” the letter concluded.

“We implore you to prioritize this issue and engage in a concerted effort with local and provincial authorities, along with necessary federal agencies, to develop a comprehensive strategy to address these extortion threats.”

Speaking to CP24 Tuesday evening, Brown said the issue needs to be amplified nationwide as he worries that it could spread to other places.

"We can't tolerate our residents being terrorized, and it's South Asian business owners that are being targeted," the Brampton mayor said.

"This is complex and it's inter-jurisdictional because it relates to criminal organizations outside of our country. Given the fact that we've seen an alarming amount of these extortions in Peel and in the (B.C.) lower mainland, and now we're seeing it replicated in Edmonton and the United States, my worry is this is going to spread."

Brown said he wants the federal government to send a clear message that these incidents will not be tolerated.

"The nature of these threats, although some of the people involved are local, it appears that they originate outside our borders, which adds the importance of having a sort of a national focus to this and to make sure we have cooper operation from international law enforcement agencies as well," the mayor said.

"This has come out of nowhere in recent months, and as long as it becomes profitable for criminal organizations, they will continue to terrorize our residents." Top Stories


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