There were more organized crime murders in the Greater Toronto Area than anywhere else in Canada last year, according to new numbers from Statistics Canada.
Street gangs, traditional Mafia, and emerging crime groups all contributed to the toll of 36 gang-related murders in the GTA in 2018, according to numbers released by the agency this week.
The large metro area with the second-highest underworld murder toll in 2018 was Montreal, with 24 gangland slayings, followed by Vancouver with 20, Edmonton with 14 and Ottawa with five.
Adjusted for population, the GTA tied with Montreal for the third-highest rate of organized crime killings among metropolitan areas with more than 500,000 people, at 0.57 per 100,000. Edmonton recorded the highest rate, at 0.98 gang-related homicides per 100,000 people, followed by Vancouver, at 0.75.
The GTA also had the most organized crime murders in 2017, at 36, with Vancouver second, at 20, and Montreal third worst, at 15.
The GTA victims include targets of street gangs and traditional Mafia, as well as people police said were caught in the wrong place at the wrong time.
Among them are Chantelle Almeida, 26, of Toronto, who was with Cosimo Ernesto Commisso, 33, of Woodbridge when he was fired upon and killed in the driveway of his Woodbridge home in June 2018.
Commisso was related to Cosimo (The Quail) Commisso of Siderno, Italy, considered by police there to be an ’Ndrangheta organized crime boss.
A Star investigation found some of his Canadian relatives had clashed with aggressive young newcomers from B.C. and Quebec allied to a gang called The Wolfpack Alliance shortly before the murder.
Others include Ruma Amar, 29, and Thanh Tien Ngo, 32, who were killed at a crowded North York bowling alley on March 17. According to police, Ngo was killed after gunmen chased him into Playtime Bowl & Entertainment, shooting both him and Amar. Amar was a bystander and did not know Ngo, police said.
According to a 2014 Toronto police document obtained by the Star, Ngo was a member of the Chin Pac street gang. His father was shot “execution-style” at his home in 2014.
In 2018, the city of Toronto broke its record for homicides in a single year, with 96 in total.
Statistics Canada classes a homicide as gang-related when police confirm or suspect the victim or killer was a member, prospective member or somehow associated to an organized crime group or street gang, and the homicide was carried because of this association.
Among Canada’s smaller metro areas, Abbottsford-Mission, B.C., recorded the nation’s worst organized crime murder rate with four killings in 2018. The community of nearly 200,000 recorded four organized crime killings in 2018 and six in 2017, rates of 2.04 and 3.11 per 100,000 respectively.
Nationwide, Statistics Canada found that organized crime groups and street gangs were responsible for 27 per cent of homicides committed in Canada last year — a total of 147, up from 138 in 2017 and 119 in 2016.
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Peter Edwards is a Toronto-based reporter primarily covering crime. Reach him by email at firstname.lastname@example.org