Alleged Toronto street gang the "Dixon City Bloods" were raided in 2013's Project Traveller, making headlines across the country for charges involving crack and gun operations in Southern Ontario. But the group occupies a unique space in the city's consciousness.
Several alleged members appeared in a notorious photo with deceased former Toronto mayor Rob Ford in the companion piece to his crack tape. Two of the men in that photo were later shot – one fatally. Their turf, Dixon, is much smaller than its reputation, just six condo towers at the intersection of Dixon Road and Kipling Avenue near Toronto's Pearson airport. After an influx of Somali refugees in the early 1990s, it was dubbed 'Little Mogadishu'; the neighbourhood remains predominantly Somali.
But what has been classed as a cultural and geographic criminal organisation may not exist at all. VICE goes inside this insular community where we hear that residents had never heard of the Bloods (AKA the Goonies) until media reports and a police press conference about the widely reported 2013 raids. They can't deny that there are young people involved in gun violence but say the numbers are exaggerated and far from what could be called organised crime. VICE talks to the street-level players, alleged founders, those who have been imprisoned as Bloods, and the media who reported on the police's narrative to see if the Dixon City Bloods are a serious criminal organisation, a creation by cops to justify raids in Rob Ford's former stronghold, or something in-between.