KELOWNA, British Columbia, Oct. 18 (UPI) -- Mexican cartels are setting up shop in British Columbia, and officials say they fear the cartel violence similar to that in Mexico could erupt in Canada.
The head of the British Columbia Gang Task Force said Mexican cartel members could increase drug profits in Canada by cutting out the middleman, Postmedia News reported Monday.
The concern is the Mexican cartels will start fighting with Canadian gangs over lucrative drug profits, Gang Task Force Superintendent Tom McCluskie said.
Investigators are gathering intelligence about how the arrival of Mexican cartels might alter the organized crime landscape in British Columbia, McCluskie said.
McCluskie said Canadian gangs are moving away from population centers where police are more plentiful and into less densely populated regions of British Columbia
While suspects are scattered around the province, including the Okanagan and the Lower Mainland areas, there have been no major conflicts yet, he said.
Earlier this month, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police's Drug Enforcement Section announced charges against Mexican nationals in two separate cocaine-smuggling operations, the report said.
"The gangs that are moving up here are coming up here specifically to move into a market," McCluskie said.
He said that's why his uniformed Gang Task Force is visiting the area for the second time in recent months, and that it wants local residents to know police will push criminals out of their communities.
"We want to offer these communities up here the same kind of service people in the Lower Mainland are getting," McCluskie said.