Extortion letters being sent to businesses in Abbotsford, Surrey and Vancouver purport to be from gang members in India.
A photo of the letter circulating online references two houses that were shot at in Abbotsford in November, saying they were targeted because they did not pay “protection money.”
The Abbotsford Police Department (APD) previously reported that on Nov. 4 shots were fired at about 3:20 a.m. in the 600 block of McCallum Road. The second call came within 10 minutes, in the 2100 block of Martens Street.
The extortion letter, which is not dated and does not name a recipient, demands $2 million in cash.
It opens with the statement “Warning. Read carefully. Do not think this is a fake letter” and indicates it has been sent by “Indian gang members.”
“If you want to do a business here in Abbotsford you have no other way and please make sure (you) do not contact police. If you did, then no more letter, only bullet,” it states.
The letter says the recipient has one month to pay and “to decide by phone or letter.”
“We have links all over. Do not ignore us. It will affect you really bad,” it states.
Const. Art Stele, media officer with the Abbotsford Police Department, said he cannot elaborate on the matter as it is under investigation, including in other jurisdictions.
“We have coordinated and liaised with the sharing of intelligence and information amongst our policing partners and ensuring we follow up on any leads on this case that may also include gang ties,” he said.
Media outlets in India have been reporting on the extortion attempts in Canada, alleging they are linked to gangster Lawrence Bishnoi.
Bishnoi is currently in prison, and is one of the accused in the fatal shooting of Punjabi rapper and singer Sidhu Moose Wala in May 2022.
He continues to run his criminal enterprise from prison, according to the Indian media.
The topic of the extortion attempts arose Tuesday (Dec. 5) at a town hall meeting in Surrey attended by B.C. Conservative Leader John Rustad.
“I met with South Asian business owners in Surrey who are concerned about third world crime coming to Canada,” Rustad said in a post on X (formerly Twitter).
“Gangs threaten their businesses and ask for protection money. Entrepreneurs come to BC for safety and opportunity – we should deport and jail criminals who harass them.”
Police in Abbotsford, Surrey and Vancouver first warned of the extortion letters on Nov. 23, saying they might have been sent en masse to businesses, requesting money in exchange for protection from violence.
The agencies also said that some individuals had received phone calls.
They advised that anyone receiving the letter not engage with the suspect(s) and not send any money. Instead, they should contact police immediately.
I met with South Asian business owners in Surrey who are concerned about third world crime coming to Canada.— John Rustad (@JohnRustad4BC) December 6, 2023
Gangs threaten their businesses and ask for “protection” money.
Entrepreneurs come to BC for safety & opportunity— we should deport & jail criminals who harass them. 1/2 pic.twitter.com/wVTWzionO0