As homicide detectives search for the men who shot and killed Harp Uppal and his 11-year-old son Gavin, experts say, it has all the hallmarks of a gang-related hit, noting a conflict that spans several provinces.
Edmonton police confirmed last week the elder Uppal was high up in the “gang drug world.”
Sources tell CTV News Edmonton he was affiliated with British Columbia-based gang the Brothers Keepers, a purported variant of the Hells Angels.
“They seem to have evolved into a primarily South Asian group,” said Dr. Rob Gordon, a Professor of Criminology at Simon Fraser University in Vancouver.
“The brains of the organizations are located in the large urban areas and out of province.”
The exact size of the Brother’s Keepers organization isn’t clear, but three years ago a specialized gang police force in B.C. said the network consisted of almost 200 people.
B.C. gangs have been bleeding into Alberta for years, Gordon said, as they look to expand their drug market.
“Alberta has always been, southern Alberta, in particular, always been an important extension of B.C. from the point of view of the drug trade,” he said.
With the drugs, comes violence. Calgary has also seen a recent string of gang-related killings.
To tackle the violence, this year the province created a new gang suppression unit operating under Alberta Law Enforcement Response Teams (ALERT).
“The Alberta Law Enforcement Response Teams are extremely well connected to law enforcement, not just in British Columbia, but right throughout Canada,” said Mike Ellis, Alberta’s minister of public safety and emergency services.
Dr. Gordon said while civilians are occasionally caught in crossfire, it’s highly unusual for these gangs to intentionally kill children.
“It brings fury down on them and on the trade and that’s going to have an adverse impact,” he said.
On Wednesday, Edmonton police announced that autopsies on the Uppals confirmed both died from gunshot wounds and were homicides.
Since the killings, Edmonton police have not publically reported any other shootings, but Gordon believes that is likely to change.
“It’s usually the case that retaliation occurs very quickly. It runs in a cycle,” he said.
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