The Roma Community Centre on Dundas St. West in Toronto has been very busy as late as up to 50 Hungarian Roma ( Gypsies ) are flocking to Pearson Airport every night filing refugee claims.
Credits: Dave Thomas/Toronto Sun/QMI Agency
TORONTO -- The Canadian Border Services Agency is asleep at the wheel allowing more than 400 alleged Roma gypsies - many of whom have extensive criminal records - into the country and specifically the GTA, critics say.
This week, the Durham Regional Police Service confirmed they had arrested 34 people and laid 263 charges in the largest investigation of its kind in the region.
The story began in the fall of 2011, when police noticed that people were committing distraction-style thefts and fraud and started Project Mansfield.
Police busted one Roma fraud cell, but they say there are a least six others stealing millions from stores and vulnerable people.
When a person comes to Canada and claims refugee status they are detained and their history is checked out.
"Something went wrong here. It concerns me that large numbers are getting through the border," said Liberal Immigration Critic, MP Kevin Lamoureux. "We need to speed up the process so we can get rid of those abusing the system. We need more resource3s in place so our borders can be looked after."
The CBSA is trying to help clean up the mess.
"The CBSA has been actively assisting the Durham Regional Police Service with its investigation as part of this alleged fraud involving recruiting individuals from Hungary to come to Canada to make refugee claims in order to collect social assistance benefits. As our investigation is ongoing, we are limited in terms of the specific information we can provide," said Antonella DiGrolamo with the CBSA.
"Admissibility to enter Canada is considered on a case-by-case basis, based on the specific facts presented by the individual at the time of entry. Every person seeking entry to Canada must demonstrate that they meet the requirements to enter and/or stay in Canada. All persons attempting to enter Canada must report to the CBSA and may be subject to an in depth examination by CBSA's border services officers who will make an admissibility determination."
Most of the 34 Romas arrested by police have been before a court and are out on bail, said DRPS Det. Sgt. Cathy Bawden.
"They are facing charges here and will do jail time here if they are found guilty and then they will deal with the CBSA," Bawden said, adding many have criminal records in Europe.
"We are working with the FBI to find the process on how they are coming into Canada. We believe there are other Romanian cells and we believe there are links between them."
The Roma involved in Project Mansfield collected $2 million from support programs since January and police have seized $85,000 in stolen merchandise. They have also identified over $1 million in suspicious wire transactions overseas.
Since the arrests from Project Mansfield victims have started to come forward.
"We don't know how many there are but a rash of victims are calling and we encourage people to keep coming forward,"Bawden said.