Hells An­gels re-es­tab­lish East Coast pres­ence

Truro Daily News - - NOVA SCOTIA - BY KEITH DOUCETTE

The Hells An­gels have re-es­tab­lished an evolv­ing pres­ence in At­lantic Canada, although ex­perts say they have not ex­panded their ros­ter of full-patch mem­bers since first reap­pear­ing in the re­gion more than two years ago.

Po­lice and or­ga­nized crime ex­perts say it’s not clear why the coun­try’s most pow­er­ful out­law biker gang has not found any lo­cal prospects wor­thy of full mem­ber­ship, but con­firm the An­gels are re­trench­ing af­ter their for­mer Hal­i­fax chap­ter was smashed by po­lice in 2001.

Stephen Sch­nei­der, a criminolog­y pro­fes­sor at Saint Mary’s Univer­sity who has writ­ten ex­ten­sively on or­ga­nized crime, be­lieves the es­tab­lish­ment of a new pup­pet club in the last year – the Red Devils – is a sig­nif­i­cant sign of in­tent.

“The Red Devils is pretty much their sort of AAA af­fil­i­ate club in­ter­na­tion­ally,” said Sch­nei­der. “So this is a sig­nal that the Hells An­gels have not given up and that they are re­ally se­ri­ous about their pres­ence in At­lantic Canada.”

The Red Devils have set up chap­ters in Monc­ton and in Hal­i­fax.

The mem­bers of the Hal­i­fax Red Dev- ils chap­ter, which was set up in July, were re­cruited from two other biker clubs, the Gate­keep­ers and the Dark­siders, ac­cord­ing to RCMP Staff Sgt. Guy­laine Cot­treau of the Crim­i­nal In­tel­li­gence Ser­vice Nova Sco­tia.

“They were known to the Hells An­gels and they came from the al­ready ex­ist­ing sup­port clubs,” said Cot­treau. “We have no Hells An­gels prospects ... but they still have a good foot­print in the province with their sup­port clubs.”

Cot­treau said there had been a Nova Sco­tia prospects chap­ter, but it fell be­low six mem­bers this fall, and they’ve since be­come prospects for the Hells An­gels in New Brunswick, where a Hells An­gels No­mads club in­cludes some full patch mem­bers that were trans­planted to that province.

She said in ad­di­tion to the Red Devils, Nova Sco­tia has a se­ries of other out­law gangs, in­clud­ing Dark­siders clubs in Dart­mouth and the An­napo­lis Val­ley, Sedi­tion clubs in Fall River and Wey­mouth, and High­landers clubs in Antigo­nish, Pic­tou County, and Cape Bre­ton.

Ex­perts be­lieve the An­gels are look­ing to ex­pand ter­ri­tory and crack the drug trade in a re­gion with sev­eral thou­sand kilo­me­tres of coast­line, which makes it eas­ier to im­port drugs.

The only so-called group of one per­centers – the elite out­law bik­ers – in Nova Sco­tia is the Bac­chus Mo­tor­cy­cle Club, which ap­pears to have reached a de­tente re­gion-wide with the An­gels. It was also de­clared a crim­i­nal or­ga­ni­za­tion in a July rul­ing by a Nova Sco­tia Supreme Court judge – a move that has the po­ten­tial to put a damper on its ac­tiv­i­ties be­cause it es­tab­lishes tougher sen­tenc­ing for crimes car­ried out to ben­e­fit the club.

Mean­while, a tra­di­tional ri­val group for the Hells An­gels, the Out­laws, has also pushed into the re­gion with sup­port clubs known as the Black Pis­tons in Fredericto­n and in Syd­ney, where they set up shop ear­lier this year. The Out­laws and Bac­chus also op­er­ate in New­found­land, along with sev­eral Hells An­gels sup­port clubs.

“Right now it is peace­ful, how­ever they (Out­laws) are the main ri­val group to the Hells An­gels so there is po­ten­tial there,” for vi­o­lence, Cot­treau said.

Sch­nei­der said he finds it sur­pris­ing the Out­laws are try­ing to move into At­lantic Canada af­ter fail­ing to emerge as a sig­nif­i­cant threat to the Hells An­gels in On­tario.

“They have chutz­pah I’ll give them that,” Sch­nei­der said. “They are still in there bat­tling and try­ing to es­tab­lish ter­ri­tory.”

In Prince Ed­ward Is­land there are two Bac­chus club chap­ters and one af­fil­i­ate chap­ter of the Hells An­gels.

RCMP Cpl. Andy Cook said the An­gels are down to six prospect mem­bers from 10 in P.E.I. and none of the bik­ers are full-patch. He said stepped up po­lice en­force­ment likely led to some mem­bers leav­ing the club.

“Some of the in­ci­dents were prob­a­bly not very at­trac­tive to the Hells An­gels who are fre­quently try­ing to por­tray them­selves in a pos­i­tive light in the me­dia,” he said.

While it’s be­lieved the Port of Hal­i­fax is the main prize cov­eted by the An­gels, po­lice say they’re not aware of any ac­tiv­ity there.

Sch­nei­der, who re­cently com­pleted a study for the fed­eral govern­ment on or­ga­nized crime in marine ports, said he hasn’t seen any di­rect ev­i­dence ei­ther.

“I didn’t see any known Hells An­gels mem­bers work­ing on the docks in Hal­i­fax, but that’s not say­ing they aren’t, or there aren’t as­so­ciates,” he said.

Sch­nei­der said the An­gels’ in­flu­ence has suf­fered set­backs through po­lice en­force­ment ac­tions such as the ar­rest in July of prom­i­nent New Brunswick mem­ber Emery Martin on 10 drug-re­lated of­fences. How­ever, he be­lieves it was the suc­cess of a crack­down years be­fore against the biker group in Que­bec that has had the most im­pact.

In April 2009, Op­er­a­tion Sharqc re­sulted in 156 ar­rests and the clo­sure of sev­eral of the biker gang’s club­houses, how­ever many of the court cases even­tu­ally fell through and Sch­nei­der said the Hells An­gels have seen a resur­gence in Que­bec that has im­pli­ca­tions for the At­lantic re­gion.

“They are in a bet­ter po­si­tion to help At­lantic Canada es­tab­lish chap­ters and pup­pet clubs. Hav­ing the Red Devils set up in Monc­ton is sig­nif­i­cant be­cause they are a Tier 1 pup­pet group that has long been as­so­ci­ated with the Mon­treal chap­ter of the Hells An­gels.”

Cot­treau said po­lice are aware of the emerg­ing threat and ob­served a Que­bec Hells An­gels pres­ence in the re­gion over the sum­mer.

She said po­lice will move to en­force the law against the An­gels where and when they can.

“We are try­ing to dis­rupt and dis­man­tle them but it is a big task. They are a pretty well es­tab­lished or­ga­ni­za­tion.”

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