VANCOUVER -- A public inquiry into money laundering has heard that British Columbia appears to have more high-level organized crime groups than other provinces.

The director general of Criminal Intelligence Service Canada says that among at least 1,850 organized crime groups known to operate in Canada, the agency has assessed 680.

RCMP Chief Supt. Rob Gilchrist says one quarter of the assessed groups are known to be involved in money laundering, although the agency believes that figure to be low.

British Columbia's port access and proximity to Mexico make it a natural gateway for illicit drugs into other parts of Western Canada, and Gilchrist says it may be more appropriate to consider some of the crime groups as operating regionally rather than just in B.C.

However, Gilchrist says because his agency depends on sensitive law enforcement information, there is a limit to what he can share with the inquiry.

He also says the agency depends on individual police departments to share information they think is relevant and, like his agency, they have limited resources.