OTTAWA - The Supreme Court of Canada has made it easier for Crown attorneys to charge suspects with being gangsters, even if their mob is less well organized than one like the Hells Angels.
In a precedent-setting 7-0 decision on Friday, the court found Montrealer Carmelo Venneri guilty of trafficking drugs for the benefit of a criminal organization even though he wasn't personally part of that gang.
This was the first test of the court's 2001 definition of a criminal organization as a group, "however organized," of three or more people who work together in the "facilitation or commission of one of more serious offences."
Lower courts had disagreed on how well organized a group of people had to be to qualify as a "criminal group" under the new Section 467.1 of the Criminal Code.
The Supreme Court ruled a group "must be 'structured'" in some way, and have an element of continuity, but did not require a "developed structure" in order to be considered an organized criminal group.