The HELLS ANGELS, OUTLAWS and BANDIDOS are the three most influential OMGs in Canada and have attracted significant police attention.
The HELLS ANGELS are the most powerful OMG with 34 chapters across the country. They are international in scope with over 228 chapters worldwide and an international membership exceeding 3000. The organizational structure of the HELLS ANGELS enhances cooperation between chapters to facilitate criminal activities such as the trafficking and distribution of illicit drugs. Within the last two years, successful law enforcement actions have reduced the degree of criminal influence exerted by the HELLS ANGELS in Central and Atlantic Canada. However, despite suffering from a degree of organizational difficulty in these regions, the HELLS ANGELS continue to attempt to operate and reconsolidate their sphere of influence.
The OUTLAWS are concentrated in Ontario with nine chapters. The BANDIDOS have no clubhouses in Canada, however maintain a small number of members and probationary members in Ontario. Both the BANDIDOS and the OUTLAWS have been successfully targeted by law enforcement within the last year and as a result are experiencing an organizational lull and are keeping a low profile.
OMGs in Canada are increasing their technological abilities. Computers and the Internet are being used to manage gang affairs and promote gang-related businesses and events on the web. These groups are also taking advantage of emerging technology such as wireless devices and encryption protocols to protect their information and communications. One member of the HELLS ANGELS is currently considered the national webmaster as well as technical support and continues to build computer expertise. In addition to protecting their information, OMGs, particularly the HELLS ANGELS, use sophisticated security systems and video cameras to protect their clubhouse perimeters.
Control over criminal networks and subordinates is maintained by intimidation and violence. The HELLS ANGELS in particular use violence as a tool in order to control their criminal networks and intimidate rivals. Intimidation of law enforcement and potential witnesses have been carried out in order to disrupt or delay judicial proceedings. To carry out criminal acts, OMGs will use puppet clubs such as street gangs and other lower-level OMGs in order to insulate themselves from prosecution. There are indications, however, that puppet clubs are declining in number due to the difficulty to control them and successful law enforcement action. In addition, certain puppet clubs are disassociating themselves from the more powerful OMGs in order to avoid the increased commitment and law enforcement attention such an association entails.
OMG activity within Canada remains widespread; these groups are continually attempting to widen their influence. OMGs, particularly the HELLS ANGELS derive their financial income from various criminal activities across the country such as prostitution and fraud. However, drug trafficking, most notably cocaine and marihuana, remains their primary source of income.
Due to the vast illicit drug market demand and abundance of territory in British Columbia and the Prairies, OMGs appear to co-exist with other groups such as Traditional (Italian-based) and Asian-based organized crime. In B.C. the HELLS ANGELS have seven chapters and are heavily involved in cocaine trafficking as well as marihuana cultivation. Some members of the HELLS ANGELS in B.C. have ties to Traditional (Italian-based) organized crime groups in B.C. and Central Canada. The HELLS ANGELS in this province are also attempting to sanitize their image as they hold interests in several legitimate businesses.
In Alberta, the HELLS ANGELS have three chapters. The NOMADS and Edmonton chapters are particularly involved in drug trafficking. The HELLS ANGELS in this province are composed of former rival motorcycle clubs, and as a result old allegiances and rivalries still exist, creating a degree of tension within the chapters. The HELLS ANGELS in Alberta do not have any extensive links with other criminal organizations in the province.
The two HELLS ANGELS chapters in Saskatchewan continue to operate interdependently, neither one rising as a dominant entity. In Manitoba, gangrelated violence is increasing as criminal groups fight over the province’s drug trade. The HELLS ANGELS are attempting to increase their sphere of influence in this province through the use of violence and intimidation of local drug traffickers.
OMG demographics in Central and Atlantic Canada are changing as groups targeted by law enforcement are weakened or disrupted. In Ontario, Project RETIRE, a three-year joint forces police operation targeting the OUTLAWS, concluded in September 2002 with the arrests of approximately 60 individuals, including 40 full-patch members as well as two U.S.-based members, the OUTLAWS’ U.S. national vice-president and the international president. RETIRE also concluded with the seizure of five OUTLAWS’ clubhouses in Ontario. Trials stemming from these operations are ongoing. The OUTLAWS in Ontario are currently in disarray and their criminal influence is diminished.
The HELLS ANGELS in Ontario were recently targeted in Operation SHIRLEA, a joint forces police operation in the greater Toronto area. In April 2003, this operation resulted in the arrest of 42 individuals, including 14 HELLS ANGELS full-patch members from five chapters, two former members, three members of the RED LINE CREW puppet club and 23 associates.
Project AMIGOS, targeting the BANDIDOS in Ontario and Quebec, ended in June 2002. This operation concluded with the arrests of two Ontario-based members and the majority of the Quebec BANDIDOS, virtually eliminating the criminal influence of this group in both provinces. The HELLS ANGELS continue to be affected by the aftermath of Operation SPRINGTIME 2001. Megatrials stemming from this operation are ongoing, and arrests are still being made in relation to this massive operation. Two prominent former HELLS ANGELS NOMADS’ members were arrested in April 2003, having been at large since evading the massive police sweep in the spring of 2001. They are currently facing charges of murder, drug trafficking and gangsterism.
The HELLS ANGELS in Quebec have undergone a significant organizational shift in the last two years. Due to successful law enforcement actions, internal strife and lack of leadership, many of the six HELLS ANGELS chapters in this province lack the necessary active members and/or organizational capabilities to maintain the scope of their criminal networks.
In New Brunswick, the BACCHUS are criminally active and maintain a strong association with the HELLS ANGELS. In Nova Scotia, the HELLS ANGELS Halifax chapter has also been weakened as four of its seven members are incarcerated, in addition to their clubhouse being seized after Operation HAMMER in 2001. In Newfoundland and Labrador, despite their lack of physical presence, the HELLS ANGELS continue to exert their criminal influence in this region through associates and/or local criminals.