Police fighting to keep lid on gang violence
Two gangs fighting over drug turf: sources
Saskatoon police are wrestling with a dramatic escalation in street gang violence since the middle of September.
Multiple sources tell CBC News that a simmering dispute between two rival gangs -- the Terror Squad and the Saskatchewan Warriors -- broke into the open on the night of September 17.
That's when four men were shot in a house at 227 Avenue F South. All four survived and made their way to hospital over the next 36 hours.
Shootings trigger violence
"It's over drugs, it's over who can sell the drugs," one source said. "It's always who has the power, who's able to move the drugs and make the money."
Sources told CBC News that the Avenue F house is used by the Saskatchewan Warriors to sell drugs. They also said that members of the Terror Squad did the shooting that sent the men to hospital. The sources said the gangs are embroiled in a turf war over drugs.
Police are getting little to no co-operation from the shooting victims. Those shootings triggered the subsequent escalation in violence.
The police won't characterize what's happening as a "gang war."
Police aren't talking
In fact, following the arrest Tuesday of Nicholas Clifford Giroux for second degree murder, police aren't talking about gangs at all.
Giroux is is known publicly as a high-ranking member of the Terror Squad. He's accused of killing a 20-year-old man in a North Battleford hotel on Monday.
"I am told that the investigation into the gang issues, as you called them, is at a very sensitive point," police spokesperson Alyson Edwards wrote in reply to an interview request. "To comment on anything right now would make the investigation more difficult for the investigators."
"As you can imagine, we have a number of people involved and things are changing daily."
To comment on anything right now would make the investigation more difficult- Alyson Edwards, Saskatoon Police Service
Police arrested 10 people, in two groups of five, within days of the Avenue F shooting. No one has been charged from that group with the shootings, but police laid more than 50 drug and weapons charges. Five of the people arrested were stopped on the highway near the Borden Bridge, northwest of Saskatoon.
The other five were arrested as they travelled in a taxi cab in Saskatoon. They were caught with a sawed-off shotgun, cocaine and an imitation handgun.
Avenue S South standoff
A measure of the degree of the police concern came just last week when officers responded to reports of a potential hostage taking on Avenue S South.
A man called police to say he and another person had gone to the fourplex and then got into an altercation with people there. Police feared at the time that one of the men had been taken hostage, and that a high-calibre weapon had been spotted.
Police responded rapidly and in force, calling in the Emergency Response Team, bomb squad, gang unit and crisis negotiation team. Officers surrounded the house and then sealed off the entire block. Two neighbourhood schools were also locked down.
Neighbours and passersby all volunteered to CBC that the house was well known as being used by the Terror Squad to sell drugs. Three people in the house eventually surrendered without incident.
The arrest of Nicholas Giroux is just the latest twist.
Murky and violent
It's alleged that Giroux fatally stabbed Thang Sian Mang, 20, in a North Battleford hotel on Monday. Little is known of the circumstances.
But Giroux is well known to police. In 2010, police undertook a sweeping wiretape operation after a high-ranking member of the Terror Squad was fatally stabbed in a Saskatoon bar parking lot. Those wiretaps revealed a complex and lucrative cocaine retailing operation run by the gang.
In October, 2011, Giroux -- a self-described founding member of the Terror Squad -- was convicted of possessing cocaine for the purpose of trafficking.
He returns to court this Friday on the murder charge.