For nearly a dozen hours, Abdikadir Khan lay dead undiscovered, his blood soaking the fourth-floor stairwell of an old Toronto condo tower near the international airport.
He’d been shot in the head and body. Police found an expensive black leather jacket nearby, embroidered with the words: “Dead men tell no tales.” This wasn’t random.
Mr. Khan, 24, had been attacked in the Dixon towers two years earlier, involved in a brawl just before sunrise on June 7, 2009. He and another man survived their stab wounds, but their friend, 16-year-old Ayoob Aden, died after his abdomen was punctured.
Details of their untimely deaths are contained in a newly unsealed trove of police affidavits, more than 3,000 pages in all, submitted to court to request wiretaps, vehicle-tracking devices and search warrants in a sweeping year-long investigation known as Project Traveller. Toronto police did not respond to questions about the homicides this week. But the court-released documents reveal the killings of these two Somali-Canadian men may have been tied to a turf war between young and older members of the Dixon City Bloods gang.
The bloodshed in Toronto’s Somali diaspora had reached alarming levels by 2012, when Project Traveller was launched. The Somali-Canadian community was rattled, urging police and politicians to do more to stop the violence that was decimating too many families. In the past decade alone, about 50 young Somali-Canadian men have been killed in Ontario and Alberta.
In the Dixon gang, Toronto police believe they’ve found answers to some of the violence plaguing the Somali diaspora. The Project Traveller affidavits chronicle a pattern of cocaine and heroin dealing, regular trips to Windsor to buy illegal guns smuggled into Canada from the United States, and multiple stabbings and shootings that have wounded and killed young men in the Dixon neighbourhood and elsewhere.
The allegations laid out in the documents have not been tested in court. Most of the 60 or so people arrested in raids in June, 2013, have not had their trials and many won’t until next year.
In many ways, Project Traveller has unfolded in the shadow of the Rob Ford crack scandal and the ongoing police investigation into potential criminality in the mayor’s office. The Dixon City Bloods were practically unknown to the public until a year ago, when reports emerged that an accused gang member, Mohamed Siad, was trying to sell a video that allegedly showed Mr. Ford smoking crack cocaine at a bungalow near the Dixon towers.
The gang’s interactions with the mayor appeared to be fairly frequent, according to previously released wiretaps. In intercepted conversations, some gang members boasted about possessing numerous photos of Mr. Ford using illegal drugs.
The mayor, who is running for re-election, took a leave from his position this month to enroll in a rehabilitation program to address his “problem with alcohol.” His decision was announced after two Globe and Mail reporters viewed a new video of the mayor allegedly smoking crack cocaine from a copper-coloured pipe.
In the meantime, the neighbourhood that the Dixon City Bloods once occupied is recovering and rebuilding, trying to scrub off the tarnish left by the gang and the widely publicized police raids.
“It’s a long process,” says new property manager Mark Cianfarani. “It’s not going to happen overnight.”
Mohamed Siad, 28, went by several nicknames: Soya, Gotti and Warlock. Unemployed, the Somali-Canadian lived in one of the Dixon towers before moving to a rental apartment in a new condo building a few kilometres to the south. He had recently married and reportedly wanted to start a new life in Alberta.
Police began monitoring Mr. Siad’s phone conversations, and the communications of 58 others, on March 18, 2013 – about a month after Mr. Siad filmed the video of the mayor. It isn’t clear from the police affidavits what position Mr. Siad allegedly held in the Dixon City Bloods. He is charged with participating in a criminal organization and trafficking cocaine and firearms. He has no criminal record.