top of page
  • Thomas Smith

Canadian Organized Crime

Updated: Dec 19, 2022

I just finished a fascinating book called The Wolfpack by Toronto Star reporter Peter Edwards and Mexican journalist Luis Najera. I’m not a regular reader of true crime – I get the sense that even the best crime reporters are pushed by publishers to sensationalize to some extent, which drags the tone of the genre down – but I can’t recommend this one enough.

I’ve had a passing interest in Canadian organized crime for years, since working on smuggling cases on the Northern border as a freshly-minted investigator. The Canadian underworld was always described to me as a stable hierarchy: Rizzuto mobsters at the top, Hell’s Angels bikers in the middle, and street gangs at the bottom. Respectively: money/muscle/distribution.

Call this another hierarchy that’s been disrupted by generational shifts and technology. The relative youth of the eponymous Wolfpack Alliance’s members and their technological nativism hammer this point home. Indeed, the loosely organized criminal alliance communicates mostly by way of PGP-encrypted text. This necessarily both bites them in the backside down the line, and makes it possible to reprint long strings of conversation exchanged in slang that is more millennial patois than criminal argot.

The plethora of text messages and recorded communications between the members also provides an informative look at their casual attitudes towards violence. The account of Dean Michael Wiwchar is informative. Wiwchar, now imprisoned, was a contract killer in his early 20s at the time of the events described who charged a “minimum fee of $100,000.” An enthusiast for disguise and big bore handguns, he was the preferred hitman for the Wolfpack Alliance’s de facto leader, Rabih Khalil. What makes the account particularly chilling is that we might see many of the traits common to the millennial professional in Wiwchar: an appreciation of his own skills extending to arrogance, a lack of patience, a competitive desire to be the best, and an expectation of high compensation to match his perceived capabilities.

Episodes in Wiwchar’s story also led me to wonder whether professional violence hasn’t itself been disrupted in darkly similar patterns to the rest of the economy, legitimate and otherwise. Particularly, his suggestion that he “do a couple” of murders-for-hire to pass the time while waiting for the opportune moment to complete another assassination called to mind parallels with the gig economy.

Looser organizations based on affinity rather than ethnicity have come to define criminal organizations throughout the Western world. Canada has seemingly been at the forefront of this – the prominent United Nations street gang in British Columbia is famously multi-ethnic. But we’ve seen this elsewhere. Notably, criminal organizations engaged in mortgage fraud rings and home-based boiler rooms plying pump-and-dump schemes tend to be loose affiliations of specialists in their particular cons, rather than representatives of established criminal organizations – a shift noticeable in recent decades.

Clearly, the Wolfpack Alliance described in the book was closer to a traditional gang than these types of associations. Its interest was in cocaine smuggling and distribution, and the Mexican cartels – their suppliers – are always hovering around in the background throughout the book. But the themes are timely and precisely expressed, which are rare virtues in popular literature on organized crime.

Recent Posts

See All

There’s been a lot of discussion about FTX and SBF in the investigations business since things fell apart over there. Many of my colleagues have made the worthy point that any business with exposure t

The internet is awash with websites advertising the ability to “find anyone” and “instant background checks.” Of course, the marketing language there is obviously geared towards nosy teenagers and ner

There’s a classic piece of advice – don’t lie to your doctor or your lawyer. Really, you shouldn’t lie to your private investigator either, but we spot that sort of thing fairly quickly. More importan

Join our mailing list

Thanks for subscribing!

bottom of page