(This column was published in the North Shore News on April 4, 2001)

 

One battle in biker war won

By Leo Knight

IT'S been quite a week for law enforcement in the efforts to keep a lid on the bubbling cauldron of organized crime.  

 

In a week that saw police strike a body blow to the "Mom" of all operations against the Hells Angels in Quebec, Calgary police struck at the operations of the Hells Angels in that city as well. Both operations had local angles demonstrating that things like the biker war in Quebec is not "their" problem, but truly a national problem.  

 

The North Shore News devoted both the front page and its lead editorial on Friday to the arrest of Richard Gemme, whom RCMP in Quebec describe as the alleged accountant for the Quebec Nomads chapter, led by the infamous Maurice "Mom" Boucher.  

 

While the raids in both Quebec and Alberta were spectacular, both in their respective size and results, the sheer size and duration of the investigations are also spectacularly big.  

 

In Quebec, the investigation took almost three years and the cost is in the millions of dollars.  

 

Over 2,000 police officers were involved in the raids on 280 locations hit simultaneously last Wednesday.  

 

Seized by police in the raids were 20 buildings including seven houses, 50 vehicles, 15 of which were motorcycles, $8.6 million and $2.7 million US in cash, three stolen vehicles, 70 weapons including five machine guns and a grenade launcher, 120 kilos of hash and 10 kilos of cocaine.  

 

Boucher was already in custody awaiting trial for the murder of two corrections officers.  

 

After Wednesday's raids, the stakes have been raised. Boucher now faces 13 additional murder counts.  

 

Those additional counts and the other charges faced by the bikers are supported by a staggering one million pages of text defining the evidence accumulated in the lengthy investigation.  

 

Warrants are still outstanding for several people including Walter Stadnick. A longtime Nomads chapter member who has been living in Hamilton, Ontario, for the past several years, according to police Stadnick has been running the gang's operations in the lucrative Golden Horseshoe of southwestern Ontario.  

 

Calgary's raids, independent of the Quebec investigation, were the culmination of about one year of full-tilt investigation.  

 

They arrested eight full-patch members and 29 associates. Their raids yielded 11 kilos of cocaine, over 2,000 Valium tablets, 585 morphine tablets, four kilos of marijuana, half a kilo of methamphetamine, 11 long-barrelled weapons, five handguns and an Uzi sub-machine gun with a silencer.  

 

Additionally, members of the Organized Crime Agency of B.C., who were prominent in the arrest in North Vancouver, also took down a full-patch member and a prospect in Salmon Arm for the Calgary file. Police also seized a substantial amount of cocaine and methamphetamine destined for Alberta from the Lower Mainland.  

 

These arrests by police in Quebec, Alberta and B.C., together with the fruits of the search warrants, should aptly demonstrate that the Hells Angels are organized crime. And in a big way, not just a bunch of guys who like to ride motorcycles, as their propaganda machine likes to spout.  

 

Lest anyone reading this think "Well, that's it then": understand this: all of this is nothing more than a victory, a battle won.  

 

It's a single battle in a long-term war.  

 

In the same way that nature abhors a vacuum, so does organized crime.  

 

The big question in all of this is who will move to take over the billion-dollar business? Will the Nomads be able to run their distribution networks from inside Bordeaux jail? Or will the remaining gang members from the other six Quebec chapters be able to pick up the pieces?  

 

What about the Bandidos? Since they patched over the Rock Machine and expanded into Ontario they are certainly a force to be reckoned with.  

 

Then there's the Angels' partners in the narcotics importation. In Quebec, the narcotics trade was the work of the so-called "Consortium" -- an unholy alliance of the Italian Mafia, the bikers and the West End Gang, whose roots were the Irish mob but have since expanded their horizons, influence and power. Are they likely to stand back and do nothing now that their ability to distribute their drugs has been taken out of the equation by police?  

 

Whatever happens, it is clear the police have struck a major blow against the operations of the Hells Angels. But it is only a single battle in a much bigger war. And there are many more battles to be fought.

 

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