Canada: Police arrest 5 Indian-origin people for extortion, firearms offences targeting South Asian businesses

Five Indian-origin people were arrested by Canadian police on charges of incidents such as “mischief to property, threats, and firearms-related offences.” The three men and two women charged by the Peel extortion authorities in help with Ontario Provincial Police reportedly made the South Asian business community within the Greater Toronto area their target. The Peel Regional Police Extortion Investigative Task Force (EITF) on January 24, 2024, executed a search warrant at a residence in the City of Brampton and booked four individuals. 

It included 23-year-old Gagan Ajit Singh from Brampton, 23-year-old Anmoldeep Singh from Mississauga, 25-year-old Hashmeet Kaur from Brampton, and 21-year-old Iymanjot Kaur from Brampton. 

Gagan Ajit Singh was charged with two instances of “extortion, uttering threats to cause death, discharge firearms with intent, arson causing damage to property, unauthorised possession of a firearm, possession of a prohibited device, possession of a firearm knowing its possession is unauthorised, possession of prohibited or restricted firearm with ammunition fraud over $5000.”

Meanwhile, Anmoldeep Singh was charged with multiple firearm offences and fraud of over $5000. The others were also charged with firearms offences. The fifth person charged is a 39-year-old Arundeep Thind. As per the police authorities Thind has no fixed address and is charged with the extortion offence. 

The extortion task force was reportedly established in response to a surge in reports from South Asian business owners concerning threats of violence if they failed to comply with monetary demands.

Superintendent Shelley Thompson, who oversees the task force unit, disclosed that the targeted businesses encompassed various sectors such as restaurants, bakeries, used car dealerships and trucking companies all owned by individuals of South Asian descent.

Moreover, at a presser, he also revealed that 24 charges have been leveled pertaining to 29 attempts to extortion. The modus operandi involved contacting owners via phone calls, social media platforms, or video calling services like WhatsApp.

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Perpetrators always requested cash or money transfers in either Canadian dollars or Indian rupees. While no injuries were reported in connection with the extortion attempts, nine instances involved gunfire directed at unoccupied businesses. The investigation has also revealed similar extortion attempts in other Canadian cities like Edmonton and the Lower Mainland of British Columbia, as well as in various jurisdictions in the US. 

(With inputs from agencies)

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