McGuinty Government Protecting Ontarians From Organized Crime



    Attorney General Expands "Organized Justice" With Special Advisory Group

    TORONTO, June 12 /CNW/ - The McGuinty government is taking action to cut
off funding for organized crime by bringing together Crown prosecutors,
police, retailers and other experts for advice on how to better coordinate
investigations and prosecutions of identity theft, counterfeiting and other
crimes, Attorney General Michael Bryant announced today.
    "Organized justice in Ontario means bringing the best and brightest
together to combat organized crime. We're getting the jump on piracy and
identity theft with this new Special Advisory Group," said Bryant. "We are
making sure we have the best tools and follow the best practices to protect
consumers, and cut off a potential source of profit for organized crime. Yet
again, we are fighting organized crime with organized justice."
    The Attorney General's Special Advisory Group on Sources of Organized
Crime Profits will act as a forum for the sharing of expertise and will
provide advice in a number of areas, including:

    
      -  Cutting-edge strategies for the investigation and prosecution of
         identity theft and counterfeiting
      -  Mobilization of experts and researchers in the field
      -  Training and educational materials to be used by Crown prosecutors
         and other law enforcement agencies.
    

    Identity theft costs the Canadian economy an estimated $2 to $5 billion
every year. The cost of counterfeit goods is an estimated 10 per cent of the
country's economy, or $20 to $30 billion annually.
    "Counterfeiting and identity theft threaten our economy," said Graham
Henderson of the Canadian Anti-Counterfeiting Network. "Together, we have to
do everything we can to stop these types of crimes and stop organized
criminals from exploiting consumers for profit."
    "Criminal activities associated with retail organized crime pose a
significant threat to consumers," said Diane J. Brisebois, President and CEO
of Retail Council of Canada. "The Retail Council of Canada is pleased the
McGuinty government has taken this step and we look forward to working with
the Attorney General's Special Advisory Group to share our advice and
expertise."
    "Our combined expertise is a new and important weapon in the fight
against organized crime," said OPP Superintendent Don Bell. "The Special
Advisory Group will help us build on our successes in protecting people from
retail crimes, identity theft and counterfeiting."
    This is just one more example of how, working together, Ontarians have
achieved results fighting organized crime. Other initiatives include:

    
      -  Pioneering the first-ever inter-provincial agreement with Quebec and
         Manitoba to better combat organized crime through improved
         information sharing and training.
      -  Opening the province's first major crimes court at 361 University
         Avenue in Toronto. A second major crimes court is currently under
         construction at the 2201 Finch Avenue West Courthouse in Toronto,
         and it's expected to open in Fall 2007.
      -  Forfeiting $3.6 million since October 2003 under the Civil Remedies
         Act, which allows the Attorney General to go to civil court to
         freeze, seize, and forfeit to the Crown property that is determined
         to be the proceeds or instruments of unlawful activity.


    Disponible en français

                      www.attorneygeneral.jus.gov.on.ca


    Backgrounder
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------

                  ATTORNEY GENERAL'S SPECIAL ADVISORY GROUP
                    ON 

SOURCES OF ORGANIZED CRIME PROFITS The Attorney General's Special Advisory Group on Sources of Organized Crime Profits is yet another way the McGuinty government is working to combat organized crime. Members of the Attorney General's Special Advisory Group on Sources of Organized Crime are: - Chair David Zimmer, Parliamentary Assistant to the Attorney General of Ontario - Vice-Chair Earl Fruchtman, Acting Co-Director, Criminal Law Division, Policy Branch, Ministry of the Attorney General - Margaret Beare, Nathanson Centre on Transnational Human Rights, Crime and Security - Don Bell, Superintendent, Ontario Provincial Police - Allan Bush, Director, Criminal Intelligence Service of Ontario - William Crate, Director of Security, Canadian Bankers Association - Giuseppina D'Agostino, Assistant Professor of Intellectual Property, Osgoode Hall Law School - Chris Ferguson, Director, Policy and Consumer Protection Services, Ministry of Government Services - Graham Henderson, Canadian Anti-Counterfeiting Network - Jawhar Kassam, Manager, Fraud Prevention, Ministry of Transportation - John Lee, Counsel, Ministry of the Attorney General - Mark Roseman, Senior Policy Advisor, Innovation Policy Secretariat - Timothy Tulkan, Coordinator, Fraud Programs, Ministry of Health and Long Term Care - Tony Warr, Deputy Chief, Toronto Police Service - Bill Yetman, Executive Vice-President, Retail Council of Canada. Disponible en français www.attorneygeneral.jus.gov.on.ca Backgrounder ------------------------------------------------------------------------- ORGANIZED CRIME MEETS ORGANIZED JUSTICE Organized crime exploits borders, technology and the justice system. That's why Ontario is fighting organized crime with "Organized Justice." The McGuinty government is working with the federal government and other jurisdictions around the world so that criminal organizations can no longer exploit jurisdictional divides. Justice partners in Ontario - Crown prosecutors and police - are also working together in highly coordinated investigations and prosecutions targeting organized crime. The Attorney General's Special Advisory Group on Sources of Organized Crime Profits is just one way the Ontario government is working to combat organized crime. Other examples include: - $12.1 Million Crime Package - On June 6, 2007, the premier announced several new initiatives including $6.3 million for an Anti-Violence Intervention Strategy in communities outside of Toronto, a Provincial Advisory Group on Marijuana Grow Operations, a new Intelligence Unit to help identify gang members and additional support for Crown attorneys. - Inter-Provincial Agreement - The McGuinty government has signed an inter-provincial agreement with Manitoba and Quebec to better combat organized crime through improved sharing of information and training. Other provinces have expressed interest in signing similar agreements and talks are underway. - CRIA - Ontario's Remedies for Organized Crime and other Unlawful Activities Act, 2001 - or Civil Remedies Act - allows the Attorney General to freeze, seize and forfeit to the Crown property that is determined to be the proceeds or instruments of unlawful activity. The legislation has been used to target illicit activities such as fraud, Internet and telemarketing scams, drug trafficking and marijuana grow operations. Since October 2003, $3.6 million in property has been forfeited. $11.3 million in property is currently frozen, pending completion of civil forfeiture proceedings. - 1,000 Additional Police Officers - The government has fast-tracked the hiring of 1,000 new officers, including 250 in Toronto. - Expanded Guns and Gangs Task Force - The task force includes police officers, Crown prosecutors, probation and parole staff, and staff from the Victim/Witness Assistance Program who work together from day one of an investigation into gun crimes. The Crown prosecutors provide early legal advice to police, especially on search warrants or other issues arising in an investigation. They also, where appropriate, get legal authorization for the police to conduct wiretaps. The McGuinty government has expanded the task force twice since October 2005 for a total of 64 Crown prosecutors and support staff, 12 new probation and parole officers and 12 victim/witness service staff. In addition, Ontario and federal officials will continue discussions with a view to creating teams of dedicated provincial and federal prosecutors working together to take action on organized crime. - Operations Centre - The government has established a $26-million state-of-the-art Operations Centre providing for highly coordinated investigations and prosecutions of gun and gang-related offences. The centre, which is now open and fully operational, houses the expanded Guns and Gangs Task Force, Ontario Provincial Police and other police services. - Major Crime Courts - The government is establishing major crime courts designed to increase the criminal justice system's capacity to respond to large-scale prosecutions such as those involving organized crime. The first major crimes courtroom, located at 361 University Avenue in Toronto, is now ready for use. It is equipped with higher levels of security and is capable of dealing with multiple defendants. The second major crimes court, located at 2201 Finch Avenue West in Toronto, should be ready by Fall 2007. - Expanded Provincial Weapons Enforcement Unit - An additional 15 OPP officers have been assigned to the specialized unit, for a total of 58 officers. The unit is dedicated to identifying and taking action against the illegal movement of firearms, ammunition and explosives, including smuggling, trafficking and possession of "crime guns." - The Centre of Forensic Sciences - The government has increased funding to the centre to expand its capacity to perform ballistics testing and forensic analysis. - Ontario's Witness Protection Program - The government has enhanced the program to encourage more community members to come forward when they have witnessed a serious crime. The Ministry of the Attorney General has improved short-term protection and reduced the red tape involved in obtaining admission to the program and receiving a new identity. The Attorney General will continue to work with his federal counterpart to improve the federal witness protection plan so that it can work in a coordinated manner with Ontario's program. Contact: Brendan Crawley Ministry of the Attorney General Communications Branch (416) 326-2210 Disponible en français www.attorneygeneral.jus.gov.on.ca

For further information:

For further information: Greg Crone, Ministry of the Attorney General,
Minister's Office, (416) 326-1785; Brendan Crawley, Ministry of the Attorney
General, Communications Branch, (416) 326-2210

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