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7 surveillance videos linked to extortions of South Asian home builders in Edmonton released

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The Edmonton Police Service has released a number of surveillance videos related to a series of extortion cases in the city now dubbed "Project Gaslight."

The cases primarily target South Asian home builders, who have received requests for money.

At least 34 events, including extortion attempts, arsons, shootings and threats have been reported to police since October 2023 in connection with the investigation.

No injuries have been reported as a result of the shootings, but police say a firefighter was injured in one of the arsons.

An estimated $10 million in property damage has been reported.

"After months of investigating and combing through surveillance video from residences, gas stations and convenience stores, we are releasing several suspect videos to the public," Staff Sgt. David Paton told reporters on Wednesday.

"In some of the videos, we're looking for the public's help in identifying the suspects. Others, we know who they are, and are looking for more information about their activities on the dates in question."

Watch the videos in the playlist above. 

Nov. 6, 2023

Nov. 6, 2023 - Three people are seen getting out of a vehicle with a gas can in the area of 16 Avenue and 12 Street. The same people are later seen running back to the same vehicle. (Credit: Edmonton Police Service)Three people are seen getting out of a vehicle with a gas can in the area of 16 Avenue and 12 Street. The same people are later seen running back to the same vehicle.

Nov. 24, 2023

Nov. 24, 2023 - Three people are seen approaching a house on Meadowview Way in Leduc with a gas can. (Credit: Edmonton Police Service)Three people are seen approaching a house on Meadowview Way in Leduc with a gas can.

Dec. 14, 2023

Dec. 14, 2023 - Two people are seen breaking into a house at 42 Avenue and 38A Street in Beaumont. Police are trying to identify the person carrying a gas can wearing white shoes and a grey sweatshirt. (Credit: Edmonton Police Service)Two people are seen breaking into a house at 42 Avenue and 38A Street in Beaumont. Police are trying to identify the person carrying a gas can wearing white shoes and a grey sweatshirt.

Dec. 31, 2023

Dec. 31, 2023 - A person in an SUV arrives at a house at 16 Avenue and 12 Street. The person is seen leaving shortly before smoke starts coming from the building. (Credit: Edmonton Police Service)A person in an SUV arrives at a house at 16 Avenue and 12 Street. The person is seen leaving shortly before smoke starts coming from the building.

Dec. 31, 2023 - Before the fire, a newer model white four-door Mercedes Benz with tinted windows was seen in the area. (Credit: Edmonton Police Service)Before the fire, a newer model white four-door Mercedes Benz with tinted windows was seen in the area.

Police are looking for information on both vehicles and their owners.

Jan. 28, 2024

Jan. 28, 2024 - Two men are seen at the Walmart in South Edmonton Common buying a gas can. Police are trying to identify the man in the camouflage jacket. (Credit: Edmonton Police Service)Two men are seen at the Walmart in South Edmonton Common buying a gas can. Police are trying to identify the man in the camouflage jacket.

Jan. 28, 2024 - A man was seen filling a gas can at a 7-Eleven store on Saddleback Road. Police have identified him, but are looking for information about his activities that day. (Credit: Edmonton Police Service)Also on Jan. 28, a man was seen filling a gas can at a 7-Eleven store on Saddleback Road. Police have identified him, but are looking for information about his activities that day.

"In particular, with respect to the subjects from the last two videos, we're looking for information on what building they were targeting," Paton said.

Police are not aware of any extortion related crimes since Jan. 28, according to Paton.

Investigators are attributing the pause in activity to a recent town hall meeting held with the South Asian community and the engagement that has resulted from it.

"We suspect some of that pressure came from the community itself in order to put some of these people at bay," Paton said.

So far six local young men have been charged in connection with the investigations.

The people in the surveillance videos are also believed to be from Edmonton.

Paton says the men are being directed by someone outside Canada.

"Our belief is that there is a person that is orchestrating or has been orchestrating these crimes, and that person was doing so outside of Canada."

While police in other cities across Canada are also investigating extortion cases connected to South Asian community members, EPS doesn't believe the crimes happening locally are related to any of the other crimes in Canada.

Paton also said Wednesday the recent killing of home builder Buta Singh Gill is not believed to be related to the extortion investigations.

"The April 8 shooting of Buta Singh Gill was a tragic loss to our community. And our hearts go out to his family and friends as well as the family and friends of the surviving victim," he said.

"This homicide is not believed to be connected to the Project Gaslight series."

There are 10 investigators and two analysts from the Edmonton Police Service working on the Project Gaslight team.

Anyone with information about any of the people described in the videos or their activities on the day of the videos is asked to call EPS at 780-423-4567 or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477. 

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