A specialized Canadian police task force has made a significant breakthrough in addressing a series of alleged extortion incidents targeting the South Asian business community in the Greater Toronto area. The Peel Regional Police Extortion Investigative Task Force (EITF), in collaboration with the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP), executed a search warrant leading to the arrest of five individuals, including two women, of Indian origin.
According to a press release issued by the Peel Regional Police, the arrested individuals have been identified as Gagan Ajit Singh, 23, Anmoldeep Singh, 23, Hashmeet Kaur, 25, Iyamjot Kaur, 21, and Arundeep Thind, 39. While Gagan Ajit Singh, Hashmeet Kaur, and Iyamjot Kaur hail from the Brampton area, Anmoldeep Singh is a resident of Mississauga. The suspects face charges including extortion, unauthorized possession of a firearm, possession of prohibited or restricted weapons, and fraud, among others. Arundeep Thind, who has no fixed address, has also been charged with extortion.
The EITF was established by the Peel Regional Police in response to a surge in reports from South Asian business owners regarding threats of violence against them and their families if they refused to comply with monetary demands. Superintendent Shelley Thompson, who heads the unit, revealed that a total of 24 charges have been laid in connection with 29 extortion attempts currently under investigation.
Thompson highlighted that in some instances, firearms were discharged at unoccupied business premises, though no injuries were reported. The targeted businesses encompassed a variety of sectors including restaurants, bakeries, trucking and transport companies, and independent used car dealerships, all owned by individuals of South Asian descent.
The modus operandi of the perpetrators involved contacting the business owners via phone calls, social media platforms, or video calling services such as WhatsApp. Financial demands ranged from cash payments to money transfers in either Canadian dollars or Indian rupees, tailored to each victim’s circumstances.
While similar extortion attempts are being probed by law enforcement agencies in Edmonton, the Lower Mainland of British Columbia, and various jurisdictions in the US, Superintendent Thompson asserted that there is currently no evidence linking the incidents in Peel to broader Indian organized crime. Nevertheless, investigations remain ongoing, with authorities urging potential victims to come forward and provide information.
The collaboration between Canadian and international law enforcement agencies underscores the gravity of the situation and the concerted effort to apprehend the perpetrators and safeguard the affected communities.
Sources By Agencies