The alleged leader of an emerging Downtown Eastside street gang has been arrested and returned to Ontario to face charges, according to Vancouver police.
Police allege Stephen Philip King was the leader of the Game Tight Soldiers, a gang police said they first noticed in the troubled neighbourhood last November.
King was arrested this week and flown Wednesday to Barrie, Ont., where he is wanted on warrants for fraud over $5,000, and break and enter.
The arrest and return of King on an out-of-province warrant was the latest in ongoing effort by Vancouver police to target suspected criminals hiding in Vancouver.
The so-called Con-Air initiative targets suspects arrested in Vancouver who are wanted in other provinces on non-returnable warrants for minor charges. With such warrants, the issuing jurisdiction is not willing to pay the transportation costs involved in returning suspects for prosecution.
In this case, Vancouver police were so proud of the arrest and return of the 34-year-old King, they took the unusual step of videotaping King's trip to the airport and distributing the images to the media.
The video shows the heavily tattooed suspect wearing baggy shorts and a basketball jersey, shackled hand and foot being escorted by police through the airport.
"King and his associates have profited by using violence, intimidation and by preying on vulnerable people who are dependent on drugs. He set up his criminal organization to prey upon some of the most disadvantaged members of society, many of which we frequently find in the Downtown Eastside," alleged Insp. Dean Robinson.
Robinson was unable to say whether King had been arrested during his time in Vancouver, but did say King's name had been entered into police computers 55 times since November, evidence of the resources devoted to the Game Tight Soldiers.
Police say there are still about 10 other members of the gang, most of whom are much younger than King, in Vancouver but they are hopeful King's departure will cripple the gang's operations.
Robinson said recently police had spotted the gang's members wearing GTS insignia on hats, shirts and tattoos, a sign they were becoming more organized.
But more recently, King and four other gang members were stopped by police, and discovered to be wearing bulletproof vests, Robinson said, adding it was an indication the gang was prepared for violence.