Senior members of the Hells Angels are alleged to be among several people arrested yesterday in a major sweep centred in Northwestern Ontario that followed a two-year investigation into the biker gang, police said.
Police say 27 suspects have been arrested and charged.
At a news conference today in Thunder Bay, Det. Insp. Don Bell of the joint forces biker enforcement unit said five full-patch members of the Hells Angels, one hanger-on, and 21 associates face charges.
They are accused of drug-trafficking and other offences.
Police say cocaine, marijuana, and other drugs were seized. They also seized firearms, a recreational vehicle, cash, and other property.
“This operation will have a significant impact on the Hells Angels in Ontario and the local community,” said Bell.
The Globe and Mail reported today that stopping cocaine being distributed from the club’s base in Thunder Bay was the focus of the police operation.
The arrests came after an agent infiltrated the Hells Angels in Thunder Bay and stayed undercover for two years, the paper said, quoting an unnamed source in the police biker unit.
The investigation and raids, dubbed Project Husky, involved a “significant” number of officers led by provincial police, Bell said.
Even local police had no idea of the raids until after the fact, with one officer describing the extensive probe and ensuing raids as “very hush-hush.”
“We’re still in the process of sorting everything out,” Bell said from the police command post. “The operation is ongoing right now, but suffice it to say that it’s your traditional charges that are associated with outlaw motorcycle gangs.”
Police used an explosive device to enter the Hells Angels clubhouse in Thunder Bay, and showed a video clip of the tactical unit’s entry and raid at today’s news conference.
The Hells Angels have a long history in Thunder Bay and operate a clubhouse on the city’s south side.
One nearby resident told the Thunder Bay Chronicle-Journal he heard a noise in the middle of the night that sounded like a “sonic boom” and when he awoke at daybreak, he saw the front door had been forced open.
While police remained tight-lipped, 17 suspects made video appearances in Thunder Bay’s Ontario Court of Justice.
The 13 men and four women all face multiple criminal charges, and appeared one-by-one in a lengthy late-night hearing. All but two face charges related to cocaine trafficking.
Other counts include possession of stolen property, forgery, and conspiracy to commit assault.
The suspects remain in custody and were to make video court appearances later this week to set dates for their bail hearings.
While the focus of the probe was Northwestern Ontario, the raids also involved action in Quebec and Alberta, Bell said.
(Editor’s note: At least five residents of Rainy River District were among those arrested).