Good morning, and thank you for inviting us here to speak today about organized crime and its impact on our community. I appear before you today as a superintendent in charge of the RCMP federal policing program here in Nova Scotia.
The federal policing program is focused on the highest level of organized crime, which has the most significant impact on everyone's safety. As such, significant disruptions of organized crime groups continue to be made through integrated, intelligence-led investigations and to result in a considerable impact in the reduction of crime and the enhancement of safety throughout the province. Although Atlantic Canada is not experiencing the extent of organized crime and gang activity that central and western Canada are, our large coastline, small population, and relative proximity to international borders make Atlantic Canada an attractive gateway for organized crime.
An example of this was furnished in September 2008. The RCMP interdicted a vessel in Spanish Ship Bay, Nova Scotia, containing approximately 750 kilograms of cannabis resin. It was determined that a well-known organized crime group operating within Hamilton, Ontario, was transporting the drugs from the Caribbean. This case is currently before the courts.
Using an intelligence-led integrated approach with our policing and law enforcement partners, the RCMP in Nova Scotia is focused on reducing the threat and impact of organized crime throughout the province. The impact of organized crime is reduced by the coordinated efforts of municipal, provincial, federal, and international police and by all levels of government, by the community, and by industry. In Nova Scotia, we are using this approach to share intelligence. The integrated steering committee, consisting of RCMP senior management, municipal chiefs, and criminal intelligence services in Nova Scotia, uses information gathered by the H Division criminal analysis section and CISNS to coordinate and set provincial priorities in relation to organized crime groups or individuals.
Further, the organized crime tactical assessment committee, consisting of RCMP and municipal police resources, meets bi-weekly to provide ongoing monitoring of the priorities and to identify organized crime groups as outlined by the steering committee. The provincial threat assessment, which assesses the potential threat of organized and serious crime in a province, is now an integrated process between CISNS and the RCMP H Division criminal analysis section.
Nationally, the newly created Office of the Chief Criminal Intelligence Executive is effectively aligned with the Criminal Intelligence Services Canada central bureau and the RCMP criminal intelligence and national program support and development within the policing support services of the RCMP.
Our law enforcement community has made significant progress, operating by the principle of integrated, intelligence-led policing. Examples of this include the development of the integrated provincial and national threat assessment, the Canadian law enforcement strategy to combat organized crime of the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police, the development and implementation of the CISC Sentinel strategic early warning methodology, watch lists and assessments, and the creation of the Council on Public Safety, renamed as the Canadian Integrated Response to Organized Crime, commonly referred to as CIROC.
The OCCIE has been structured to ensure that the independent yet complementary mandates of CISC and RCMP criminal intelligence are respected, while at the same time deriving significant benefit by having a common program support and development component. Thus, the new organizational structure of the OCCIE will ensure that despite the fact of limited budgets and resources, the alignment of a common service will permit the dedication of maximum resources and funding to critical projects, such as the development of the new Canadian criminal intelligence information system, the Canadian intelligence model, and ongoing enhancement of key intelligence products and services. This includes the integrated threat assessments, Sentinel strategic early warning assessments, and targeted organized crime group and criminal market assessments.
The OCCIE creates a truly aligned criminal intelligence community at all levels of policing across Canada, thereby making maximum use of limited human, material, and financial resources. These are all aimed at ensuring that our municipal, provincial, and federal law enforcement agencies are equipped with the best and most timely intelligence possible to ensure safety in all regions of Canada. The realization of this vision will be recognized as a global best practice in integrated, intelligence-led policing.
In the fight against organized crime and serious crime in Canada, the criminal intelligence community relies heavily on computer systems to collect, collate, analyze, and disseminate criminal information or intelligence. One of the key responsibilities of CISC, leveraging the resources of the RCMP chief information officer sector, is the ongoing support of the automated criminal intelligence information system, known as ACIIS. ACIIS is the Canadian law enforcement community's national database for criminal information and intelligence on organized and serious crime, the only such repository in Canada.
Through ACIIS, law enforcement agencies at all levels collaborate in the collection, analysis, and sharing of criminal intelligence across the country. The information contained in ACIIS is used to support national law enforcement efforts to reduce harm caused by organized crime. The volume of intelligence information that the criminal intelligence community needs to manage has grown significantly as a result of Internet usage and of multi-media digital technologies such as voice, image, and video. As well, the evolution of organized crime requires that law enforcement agencies have more sophisticated automated systems to support the collection, analysis, and sharing of criminal intelligence information.
CSIS and the RCMP have been assessing the current information management technology needs of the criminal intelligence community and creating a vision for the future of ACIIS. The availability of new technologies can significantly increase the efficiency and effectiveness of analysts, investigators, and intelligence officers. Under the sponsorship of CSIS and the RCMP, five workshops have been held with respect to the development of a new national criminal intelligence system to facilitate the sharing of intelligence.
From these workshops a new vision of ACIIS was formulated, along with a set of expected outcomes. The new ACIIS will be an integrated set of applications or tools utilizing a single, shared national databank. It will operate on a desktop computer for use by all intelligence services across Canada.
There is an urgent need to replace the ACIIS with a modern system capable of meeting the business and technological demands of the criminal intelligence community in Canada. A business case for the development of the next-generation national criminal intelligence information system was forwarded to members of the ACIIS governance and CISC supervisory groups on July 23, 2009. The business case has been developed by Fujitsu Consulting in collaboration with representatives of CSIS' central bureau and CSIS' partner agencies, including the RCMP.
To give an overview of the Atlantic region, organized crime is growing increasingly complex and is consequently creating very time-consuming and resource-demanding investigations. New trends in technology, such as smartphones, pay-as-you-go services, and devices with password protection and encryption, create a challenge for law enforcement. If a suspect is in possession of a phone that contains valuable voice or text data but the password is protected, legally there is no requirement for the suspect to provide law enforcement with the password. Further, with one phone call to a service provider or by entering a series of numbers, the suspect can easily wipe the device of all information.
Our current interception laws and regulations have not kept pace with changing technologies. More than 75% of part VI applications are now cellphone-based. Every intercept is proving that text messaging is becoming a primary source of communication. However, law enforcement cannot confirm the author of a text message, creating an additional barrier in completing timely investigations. Because of disposable phones and number portability, the costs associated with intercepts are drastically increasing. An example is that when a part VI application is made, telephone numbers and service providers are given as part of the application. If a target ports the number to a different service provider or changes devices, a new part VI application must be made. This is proving to be time-consuming for law enforcement. There is nothing compelling the original service provider to notify law enforcement if a number is ported to another service provider, and there is no single database coordinating number portability.
Legislative changes are required to bring our processes more in line with the new technologies, and consequently technological resources are required to keep pace with the growing list of tools utilized by organized crime. The private member's bill, Bill C-47, would enable telecommunication service providers to make legal access available to Canadian law enforcement and criminal intelligence services.
Although modern technology is posing many challenges for law enforcement, the RCMP has a dedicated Atlantic region tech crime unit focused on searching, seizing, and analyzing digital evidence from computers, cellphones, and electronic devices. This unit must constantly stay one step ahead of new technologies. This is often achieved by partnering with private industry experts. Recently the unit partnered with the University of New Brunswick to eliminate malicious botnets. A botnet is a new technology that allows a large network of computers to be controlled from a single source. There have been instances where organized crime has used these networks to extort money from website owners from around the world. Although there have been no websites in Atlantic Canada attacked by botnets that we are aware of, there have been many examples of computers here being controlled by botnets and used as part of an attack. This partnership is looking at new ways to eliminate network attacks.
Modern technology has enabled organized crime to rapidly expand their illegal drug trade network, which continues to be the driving force fuelling organized crime within the Atlantic region. Of the 109 organized crime groups profiled in provincial threat assessments prepared by the criminal intelligence service for each Atlantic province, 99 are involved in the illicit drug trade, and in Nova Scotia organized crime accounts for 90% of the drug trade. Most organized crime groups traffic in a variety of commodities, the most common in Nova Scotia being marijuana, cocaine, crack, ecstasy, prescription pills, and contraband tobacco.
We know that Quebec, Ontario, and British Columbia are the primary source provinces within Canada. Further, hash and hash oil are often imported from Peru, Colombia, and the Middle East.
Due to the vast coastline of our province, illicit drugs and contraband cigarettes come through our ports as a gateway to reach other provinces. A recent example of a significant seizure at our ports was in conjunction with the Canada Border Services Agency. Together, CBSA and the RCMP national ports enforcement team discovered and seized approximately 28 kilograms of heroin from within a container of boxes of towels destined to an address in Toronto. It is believed to be the largest heroin seizure in Atlantic Canadian history. It led to a coordinated investigation that culminated in the arrest of four individuals from the greater Toronto area. This was a very significant seizure of heroin, as heroin seizures are almost unheard of within the Atlantic region.
A recent trend we are experiencing within the Atlantic region is the trafficking of substances that were believed to be MDMA--commonly known as ecstasy--that actually contained only a small amount of MDMA. Ecstasy is growing rapidly in popularity amongst teens and university-age students. Organized crime markets this product to youth by creating a brightly coloured tablet with popular logos and brand names stamped into the tablets to attract a younger generation and to differentiate various organized crime groups. Traffickers within Nova Scotia purchase ecstasy, or a substance sold as ecstasy, from larger organized crime groups within central and western Canada.
In 2007 a sample of tablets from seizures was analyzed, and it was determined that only one in four tablets were pure ecstasy.