(This column was published in the North Shore News on June 16, 1999)

 

Outlaw biker war looms on local horizon

By Leo Knight

EVENTS that took place in Montreal last week and planned in Texas may have a violent effect on us, here, in British Columbia.  

 

The outlaw motorcycle gang Rock Machine, which has been engaged in a violent war for control of the lucrative drug trade in Quebec with the Hells Angels, has been officially made a "Support Club" of the Bandidos, one of the so-called "Big Four" outlaw gangs in the world.  

 

The move allows Rock Machine to wear red and yellow, the colours of the Bandidos as well as a "support Bandidos" patch on their own "colours."  

 

Law enforcement analysts say it is a prelude to the Bandidos officially taking over the Rock Machine in a ceremony called a "patchover."  

 

Depending on how the Rock Machine handles its new alliance and the Bandidos needs for new supplies of money, a "patchover" could occur within the next year.  

 

Veteran biker investigator Mike Simpson, of the Harris County Sheriff's Department in Houston, Texas, homebase for the Bandidos mother chapter, said on Friday, "It's all about money and the money derived from drugs."  

 

According to Simpson there is an uneasy peace between the Hells Angels and the Bandidos.  

 

In 1996, a shooting war broke out in Europe between affiliate chapters of the two gangs.  

 

At the funeral of a Bandido, cut down in a hail of gunfire at the Copenhagen International Airport, Bandidos travelled from Australia and all over the U.S. to show support. Many wore patches on their colours that read "God forgives. Bandidos don't."  

 

The war raged over two years and even included a missile attack which took several lives. Ultimately a truce was reached but Simpson calls it a "fragile peace."  

 

The long time members of the Bandidos are against the patchover with the Rock Machine. They believe it is just inviting an escalated war with the Angels. But it is the younger members anxious to increase their wealth, influence and power base who want the alliance, come what may.  

 

The new president of the Bandidos "nation" is a relative newcomer named George Wegers. He has been to Quebec several times in the past year or so according to U.S. police intelligence.  

 

The strong resistance between the old guard in the Bandidos and the new blood is "likely to ignite WW III among the Bandits," according to Simpson.  

 

The potential for an expanded war with the Hells Angels frightens many Bandidos. The biker world is one of loyalty to a "brother."  

 

In the Angels world, they sport a tattoo that reads "AFFA" -- Angels Forever, Forever Angels. The Bandidos have a similar code.  

 

"This will be like putting gasoline on a open fire," said one undercover cop who requested anonymity.  

 

In the four or so years the Rock Machine and the Hells Angels have been fighting, the body count has climbed to over 80, including an 11-year-old boy killed in 1995 because he was walking by a car booby-trapped with a bomb.  

 

RCMP officer, J.P. Levesque, who works with the Criminal Intelligence Services Canada, believes the outlaw motorcycle gangs are the most pervasive problem facing law enforcement today.  

 

He is convinced the situation in Quebec will not end anytime soon and, like his counterparts in the States, is concerned about the affiliation with the Bandidos.  

 

"It's a matter of respect," said Levesque. "The Angels can't afford to lose face by giving in."  

 

Levesque said in the week since the new arrangement had been reached between the Rock Machine and the Bandidos, there have been two shootings and a firebombing directly attributable to the war between the two groups.  

 

In one incident, the founder of the Rock machine was gunned down and in a retaliatory strike, a nightclub, said to be an Angels' stronghold, was hit with petrol bombs.  

 

While all of this may be interesting to you, why should you be concerned? After all the killing is being done 3,000 miles away. Isn't it?

 

Well yes, but only as things are now.  

 

If the war escalates, as certainly appears to be the case, and the "patchover" occurs, the likelihood will exist of a war between the Angels and the Bandidos which could carry over throughout the biker world.  

 

The Bandidos are strongest in the Southern United States. But, their next strongest foothold is in Washington State. The nearest chapter is in Ferndale, just a 45-minute drive from downtown Vancouver.  

 

They also have five chapters in the Seattle area, including Tacoma. They are said to control the bulk of the methamphetamine trade in the Pacific Northwest.  

 

B.C. Hells Angels are among the richest in the biker world. The police say they control the hydroponic marijuana markets and routinely trade their product south of the 49th for cocaine.  

 

With all the money at stake, is it a great leap in mental gymnastics to suppose the war in Quebec might spread here, onto our streets?  

 

As Deputy Sheriff Simpson said, "It's all about money."  

 

And, there is one hell of a lot of money at stake.

 

  -30-

 

 

 

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