Gang presence has waned in the Columbia Valley after a period of relative unrest between 2010 and 2012.
Members of one gang based out of the Prairie provinces, identifying as the Street Kings, were flagrantly operating in the valley during that period, profiting largely through the drug trade, said Cpl. Brent Ayers of the Columbia Valley RCMP.
Despite a lack of competing gangs in the region, Cpl. Ayers said that the Street Kings were driven out of the community as a result of their own business practices.
“Other [dealers] had better people skills or a better product line — it’s no different than retail business,” he said. “Their way of business was too rough and too edgy for what this valley wanted.”
As an alternative to supporting gang activity, sometimes friends will pool money for a large quantity from a large city such as Calgary, he said.
While the RCMP make every effort to eradicate all illicit drug trafficking, more focus is applied to preventing gangs from entering the business, as increased levels of petty crime are frequent byproducts of gang activity.
“We’d like to think that the drugs are being diminished, but the reality is drugs, like any contraband, has always been in society,” he said. “Ultimately we just try to keep it safe. The Street Kings with their business structure, they weren’t making the streets safe.”
There are still people associated with members of the Street Kings residing in the valley, but the group’s presence is no longer active.
“Having been here nine years, I can confidently say that gang violence in the past year has definitely gone down,” he said.
As criminals work hard to keep the police “out of the loop,” Cpl. Ayers said that the local detachment is approachable on a personal level, and crime can be mitigated through a good relationship with those involved.
“We can sometimes work together to ensure that violence doesn’t come into the population.”