Divide and conquer
Like an army, the Hells Angels made a pincer move through Ontario to try
to surround its rival the Bandidos.
In a bloodless manouevre, the Hells swallowed up four biker gangs in late December to contain the former members of the Rock Machine, who had become probationary members of the Bandidos.
Police say the military-like moves are all about the Hells Angels securing its underworld market share in the province.
At the same time, bike gang leaders really hope the "business move" doesn't become an act of war.
Biker warfare -- like that in Quebec which to date has killed 156 people since 1994 -- is bad for business. Too much public outcry and police attention interferes with biker interests in drugs, extortion, strippers, prostitutes and other operations.
"We don't want to start a war in Ontario like we did in Quebec," said a former Rock Machine member turned Bandido. "We are still working for peace. We don't want the sh-- to happen again. It's not fun for anybody."
Sgt. Guy Ouellette, the Surete du Quebec's expert on bike gangs, agrees that gang leaders are trying to avoid largescale bloodshed in Ontario. He noted the Hells spearheading the move into Ontario weren't involved in the Quebec war.
"The guys who are making the expansion want the peace. They want to make big bucks," he said.
However, Ouelette said it's unreasonable to expect just friendly rivalry with the Bandidos "because it's major league.
"They are pissed because they lost the monopoly of the country and having another international organization ... trying to choke them," he said.
"If the Bandidos can keep their heads out of the water, they will survive and they will become stronger after that, because those who will not be happy with the way the Hells Angels do business will go on the Bandidos side."
The Hells have a history of killing, he said. "If they want to take over your territory, they won't hesitate to kill you.
"The Hells Angels don't care. They are self-sufficient. The worst thing in Ontario is that they opened 168 different franchises the same day."
Ontario's biker brotherhood underwent an abrupt change last month -- with former enemies becoming friends, and friends becoming adversaries.
The process had started last summer with the rapid expansion of the Quebec-based Rock Machine into Ontario. Then, the Bandidos and Hells Angels roared into the province.
For decades, Ontario's bikers had operated in relative peace.
The Hells Angels peddled in Franco-Ontario communities, particularly in the north. The Vagabonds, Para-Dice Riders, Outlaws, Red Devils, Last Chance, Lobos, Satan's Choice and Loners were based primarily in southern Ontario.
Then, last year, the Rock Machine opened three Ontario chapters within three months -- Eastern, Toronto and Western, bolstering its numbers with defecting Outlaws.
Younger Outlaws embraced the upstart Quebec-based gang, which was then warring with the Hells Angels. But Outlaws national president Mario Parente was incensed at the Rock Machine for raiding his membership.
Last month, the brotherhood of bikers changed again when the Bandidos swallowed the Rock Machine. The new Bandidos were hit Dec. 7 as Quebec City's Integrated Regional Task Force nabbed 15, including chapter boss Fred Faucher, Marcel Demers, and Simon Bedard, a Quebec chapter founder and thought to be its drug supplier.
The Hells Angels, in turn, assimilated four Ontario gangs.
The changes ushered in new relationships. Everywhere in the world, the Bandidos and Outlaws are allied, but in Ontario that alliance would become strained, while the global animosity between the Hells and Outlaws would be tempered here.
The Hells' Ontario network will get even larger, police believe, with more than 40 Red Devils in Hamilton, Canada's first outlaw biker gang, expected to don the Death's Head.
Toronto's Vagabonds are also viewed as future members, despite internal strife, which saw the removal of long-time president Peter (Crow) Lordon and four other members. Sources said Lordon and the others held secret talks with the Hells Angels to arrange a patchover, but other members balked.
A police source said the Hells' also approached the Loners in Woodbridge and Chatham. Another source said the gang is in disarray, trying to decide which side to take.
However, a Loners' member refuted the sources. "Nobody gave us any ultimatums. Nobody gave us anything," he said. "We're not going anywhere. We're just going to be who we are. We're not going to take anybody's side. We don't want to take anybody's side."
Det. Staff-Sgt. Don Bell, of the Provincial Special Squad, said the PSS is taking a wait-and-see stance with the re-making of the province's bikers.
However, Bell said, authorities do have major concerns.
The Ontario clubs now have access to worldwide organizations -- with Hells' North American chapters linked to South America, Africa, Australia and Europe -- "with access to larger amount of drugs, more resources and things of that nature."
The Bandidos' network ties North America, Europe and Australia. They are allied also to a biker gang in Thailand.
The bikers' new alliances have also upset the balance of power of traditional organized crime.
"In the past," one cop said, holding his hands in front of him, "the Italians were up here and the bikers there.
"The tables have turned in the last 10 years, either the Angels are above or even," he said, realigning his hands. "The other (groups) are secret. The H.A.s? What are they fearing? They hide in plain sight."
Heavily-fortified walls surround a compound and building at the quiet corner of rues Provost and du Prince in Sorel, Que., about 70 km northeast of Montreal.
It houses the Hells Angels' mother chapter -- the centre of the gang's eastern bloc, which stretches from the Ontario-Manitoba border to the Atlantic Ocean.
It's from this chapter and another in Quebec City that the Hells waged their bloody drug war against the Rock Machine.
Since July 14, 1994, bikers and their associates killed 156 people, including six innocent victims. One was Daniel Desrochers, 11, who was hit in the head by metal fragments when a Jeep was blasted with a Hells' bomb in 1995.
The war left another 173 wounded, including Journal de Montreal reporter Michel Auger. He was shot six times on Sept. 13, 2000.
Quebec police are still looking for 13 others presumed dead.
Only a dozen of 110 Hells took on the defiant Rock Machine in Quebec, using its network of puppet gangs to do the killing.
"Being a biker here is for real. Being a biker in Ontario is for fun, for joy, for ride, for party," says the Surete's Ouellette.
The Quebec war ended last Oct. 8 at an Italian restaurant in downtown Montreal's trendy bar district. In only 45 minutes at the Bleu Marin, rival bikers agreed to end six years of warfare.
Pictures were taken showing a smiling Hells Angel Nomad boss Maurice (Mom) Boucher trying his best to hug Rock Machine founder Paul (Sasquatch) Porter, who got his nickname because of his height and huge girth.
The Rock Machine agreed not to deal for a year with the Texas-based Bandidos, the world's second-largest bike club behind the Angels. The Angels wanted the Rock Machine to consider trading their colours for Hells Angels' patches.
About a month later, on Nov. 27, the deal was broken. The Rock Machine voted to become probationary Bandidos. The move split the gang, with 12 Rock Machine members defecting later to the Angels, including "Sasquatch," who was twice the target of Hells' hitmen.
On Dec. 1, the Rock Machine became probationary Bandidos at a Vaughan party, joining existing chapters in Toronto, Eastern Ontario, Western Ontario, Montreal and Quebec City.
On Dec. 29, the Hells Angels moved. They took in 168 Ontario bikers from the Lobos, Last Chance, Para-Dice Riders, Satan's Choice and four Rock Machine members and 11 prospects.
The Hells established chapters in West Toronto, East Toronto, Toronto, Woodbridge, Kitchener, Sudbury, Oshawa, Thunder Bay, Windsor, Lanark County, Keswick and Simcoe County. The Hells also have an 11-member prospect chapter in Niagara.
Ouellette said the Hells Angels gave Ontario's biker gangs a choice to join them, "without having a choice."
He believes none were allowed to remain neutral, and any new bike group in Ontario, whether motorcycle afficionados or one-percenters, will need Hells Angels' approval to exist.
"Six days after the Bandidos patched over their five chapters, (the Hells) met with these guys in Toronto and made them an offer: 'You're going to take one side or the other. You're with us or against us'," said Ouellette.
For bikers in the smaller gangs, who weren't good enough in the past for the larger Ontario gangs, they got instant respect and equality. "It's a huge change for these guys," he said.
Ouellette says the Hells want complete control of a market.
"If you're not pleased in the past with the way the Hells Angels do business, you have to shut your mouth or die," he said, but the Bandidos give drug dealers a choice.
"It's exactly why the Hells Angels were in a rush," he said.
"What they did in Ontario, is the first time ... where they patch four groups at the same time, making them brothers all at the same time," he said. "You're not choosing your family. If they (Bandidos) can survive that, they will be okay.
"Maybe in six months it will be different." Ouellette said, then added: "Not maybe. It will be different."
Authorities fear the changes came sooner than expected.
A prominent member of the Rock Machine, Real (Tin Tin) Dupont, on parole for a conviction after a 1996 RCMP counterfeit money sting in Candiac, Que., was murdered outside an arena north of Dorval airport Jan. 18.
Ouellette suspects the killing is "probably Hells Angels-related and we will see the war started again."
On Jan. 11, former Rock Machine members Roger Berthiaume, 26, was killed, and Robert Beland, 30, was wounded in Montreal. Both had flipped to the Rockers chapter tied with Angels Quebec Nomads, which was behind the Ontario expansion.
For now, the Hells Angels are treading carefully in Ontario. Niagara Staff-Sgt. Reg Smith believes the Hells want to slide quietly into Ontario "and they may be telling other gangs there's enough to go around for everybody.
"That may be true for some (time), but I think eventually it'll go back to 'I want it all'," said Smith. "Right now, what I see, is the Hells Angels have done is a band-aid solution to answer to what the Bandidos have done."
The Hells' prospect chapter of 11 members in Niagara is expected to become the gang's most efficient.
"They will lift themselves up and be better trained" than the others who patched, added a police source. Some of the prospects were running their own cocaine network in small-town Ontario and have "deep local political connections."
"It's a lucrative area," he said. "If they can control it, they will have the string that controls the province."
The prospect chapter's sponsor is Walter Stadnick, a veteran biker based in Hamilton and a former president of the Quebec Nomads. Police know little about Stadnick, except that he wields influence within the biker world.
"They're prospects because they're not one-percenter bikers," Smith said. "The other chapters are all full chapters and they already have that biker mentality.
"But these guys, they have to train basically from ground zero right up, so when they do reach full status then maybe they will be the true Hells Angel in the province," he said.
"They may change their tactics and it may be harder (to convict them), and that's what we have to realize."
Niagara has long been Outlaws territory, with its mother chapter in St. Catharines. The Outlaws, historically the enemy of the Hells, had a monopoly between Niagara and Hamilton.
But, in the last three years, Smith said there's been an influx of other Ontario gang members into the area.
In September 1999, police nabbed seven area Para-Dice Riders associates and a member in 'Project Winner,' named after former club president John (Winner) Neil. Police seized guns and $65,000 in drugs, and bought 454 kilos of explosives.
Two years ago, relationships changed in the region when Quebec Angels arrived in Niagara Falls on a summer tour.
"Two people known in the area who were always thought of as Outlaws supporters, they showed up, hugs and kisses with the Angels, visited with them, partied with them," said Smith.
"That was the biggest shocker for us. It wasn't long after that they and their associates flipped their allegiances to the Hells Angels and, in particular, Stadnick," he said. "I think the other side of that story is that they were showing the Outlaws that they ... can come in when they want."
While there's a tenuous truce between the Outlaws and the Hells -- with the Hells patronizing known Outlaw businesses -- sources note they've taken out some insurance by making two brothers Hells prospects. A third brother remains tied to the Outlaws.
Smith said there's been "so many bizarre changes in the last while, who's to say now that maybe the Outlaws and Angels (won't) live in harmony and become a force?"
PLEASE FEEL FREE TO ADD THESE FREE ADVERTISERS TO YOUR SITE
|Spirit and Truth|
|Please rate this site at Just4Christ Top 50 Christian Sites|