Gang war won't end until rivals are 'all dead'
Tribunal hears chilling tale of city's street war
Jason Van Rassel
Published: Thursday, December 11, 2008
A Calgary man facing deportation is a gang member with long-standing involvement in a war between two rival groups, a tribunal deciding his case heard Wednesday.
Although Tran Trong Nghi Nguyen–known as Jackie Tran –has never admitted his gang involvement to police, an investigator testified Tran once made a chilling allusion to the deadly feud in 2007.
Sgt. Gavin Walker said a constable had gone to Tran's home to warn him his life was in danger and offer him protection, but he refused to go with the officer.
“He said, 'This isn't going to be over until they're all dead or we're all dead,' ” he recalled.
Walker, testifying on behalf of federal officials seeking Tran's deportation, said the comment was a reference to deadly feud between two gangs that has resulted in at least 12 homicides since 2002.
An Immigration and Refugee Board adjudicator must now decide whether to uphold a previous ruling ordering Tran deported to Vietnam, or grant an appeal allowing him to remain in Canada.
The hearing adjourned Wednesday with lawyers from both sides agreeing to submit final arguments in writing to adjudicator Renee Miller by Jan. 26.
Authorities allege Tran is a gang member with ties to several criminals killed during the conflict, which began after a group of friends who used to deal drugs together broke up.
The split sparked violence be-tween the original gang, which adopted the name Fresh Off the Boat, and the breakaway group, which became known as the FOB Killers.
The catalyst for the split isn't known, said Walker, adding sources have told police it may have been over a stolen piece of clothing — a watch or a jacket –a fight over a girl, or the theft of $1,500 worth of marijuana.
“No, no one's been able to come up with a concrete story,”Walker said.
Citizenship and Immigration Canada called Walker as an expert witness, but Tran's lawyers are disputing his expertise.
Steve Virk, acting on behalf of Tran, said investigators' inability to get a straight story about the origins of the feud illustrates officers' inability to gather reliable information about the inner workings of the two gangs.
However, Walker countered that learning the origin of the feud isn't as important as working to disrupt the gangs and end the violence.
“I don't think the reasons they split is as fundamental as what's happening and that people are dying,” he said.
By Walker's rough reckoning, “seven or eight” people tied with FOB have been killed, and four FK members and associates have been murdered.
Tran narrowly escaped be-coming a casualty in February 2005,when multiple gunmen shot at him as he left his girlfriend's house.
“At least two or three individuals from two different vehicles attempted to shoot him,”Walker said.
“They attempted to assassinate him.”
As was the case in a later threat to his life in 2007, Tran didn't co-operate with police or offer any information about his assailants.
Walker outlined Tran's ties with several homicide victims and others hurt during the gang war.
The distinction between gang members and associates, Walker said, is that gang members are participants in organized crime activities such as drug trafficking, credit and debit card fraud, and violence.
“The Calgary Police Service has designated (Tran) as a gang member of the FK,” Walker said.
Tran has prior convictions for trafficking and assault with a weapon.He testified during a hearing in November that he started selling crack cocaine shortly after dropping out of high school.
In testimony last month, Tran admitted he was friends with known gangsters and associated with them, but denied he's a gang member himself.
Tran's mother, Laura, and girlfriend, Dawn Ngo, have pleaded with authorities to allow him to remain in Canada, saying he is responsible for providing for his family.
Miller can uphold the original order to deport Tran, grant his appeal and let him remain in the country or issue a stay of deportation, which would allow Tran to stay in Canada for a limited time under certain conditions.