The B.C. government is establishing a 22-member police group dedicated to taking organized crime activity out of B.C. casinos.
Finance Minister Mike de Jong and Public Safety Minister Mike Morris announced the new team in Vancouver Monday. De Jong said the province is making a five-year commitment that will also include dedicated inspectors from the Gaming Policy Enforcement Branch and have a budget of $4.3 million a year.
Morris said he expects the new team to perform better than a previous dedicated police unit that was federally funded and not well integrated with provincial agencies.
The new unit will be administered by B.C.’s Combined Forces Special Enforcement Unit, which focuses on organized crime. Kevin Hackett, chief officer of the anti-gang unit that includes RCMP and city police forces, said it’s a complex problem that requires international police co-operation.
“We won’t get people walking into casinos with hockey bags full of cash,” Hackett said.
The province and federal authorities set up restrictions on casino cash handling in 2011, to track cheques issued by casinos to people who come in with cash.
The problem was highlighted by an arrest in Chilliwack last year, where a man was found heading into a casino. A search turned up cheques issued by B.C. casinos, a large amount of cash as well as pills and crack cocaine in his car.