A biker organization shared their message of raising awareness of child abuse at the Georgetown Police Department Tuesday.
Bikers Against Child Abuse (BACA) came to present their organization to the Georgetown Police and the public. The group helps support and protect children who are mentally, physically or sexually abused.
“We are not your typical bikers,” Bouncer, Florence chapter BACA secretary said. For their safety, members of BACA are referred to by their biker names. “The only thing that we’re about is the children. That’s it. ”
BACA works with local and state officials as well as therapists and counselors to help support children.
BACA members support children by becoming a strong presence in their lives. They give the child a ride on a motorcycle and show them support through court proceedings.
They also provide the child a teddy bear, and a biker vest, with the numbers of two bikers they can call on it if they feel threatened.
“We are prepared to lend our physical and emotional support to them. By affiliation and our physical presence, we stand at the ready to shield these children from further abuse,” Bouncer said. “We do not condone the use of violence or physical force in any manner. However, circumstances arise such that we are the only obstacle preventing a child from further abuse, we stand ready to be that obstacle.”
Children supported by BACA are given biker names, based off of their interests. The biker names are to make them feel like part of their biker family, but also serve a secondary purpose.
“We can’t be subpoenaed if you don’t know my name. We don’t know theirs and it protects their anonymity,” Bouncer said. “If you have somebody who wants to get even, and you know weapons are very prevalent in this world, all they have to do is know where you live to [find out] how to find you and look for that back patch.”
NANAIMO — They arrived in unison, their faces covered by bandanas, and parked their Harleys in front of the old Hells Angels clubhouse here.
The patches on their backs said Los Diablos — The Devils — and featured the profile of a grim reaper with blood dripping from a fang.
Their bottom “rocker” stated their territory — the Tri-Cities.
And their presence at the invitation-only Hells Angels anniversary party this weekend established their bona fides as one of the HA’s newest puppet clubs.
B.C.’s anti-gang agency says there’s been a disturbing increase in the number of affiliated motorcycle clubs opening in B.C. with the Hells Angels’ permission.
“What we have seen is an expansion of the clubs themselves. People here on Vancouver Island will know the name Savages and the Devil’s Army — they are very high profile,” Staff Sgt. Lindsey Houghton, of the Combined Forces Special Enforcement Unit, said. “Over on the Lower Mainland there are groups like the Jesters and the Shadow Club.”
And now there is Los Diablos, currently using a local Starbucks as its clubhouse.
Diablos pulled their face coverings up higher to avoid police lenses as they entered the weekend party, attended by more than 200 bikers.
Houghton said the support clubs are dubbed puppets because the more established biker gang members are pulling the strings.
“The term couldn’t be a better term and that is their term. These guys are puppet masters in the truest sense,” Houghton said. “These are the farm teams for the Hells Angels.”
CFSEU biker experts have already seen puppet club members transfer over to become full-patch Hells Angels in recent years.
With the average age of a Hells Angel in B.C. at 49, new blood is needed, Houghton said.
“If they are going to survive, they need to replace those older members — many of them are retiring — with these younger guys,” Houghton said.
“These young guys are aggressive. They are the ones who want to make money. They don’t have the money and the stature and the reputation especially in the criminal underworld that these old guys have, having built from the early ’80s.”
Houghton said it is important for police to attend events like the anniversary party to documents associations between new puppet clubs and the Hells Angels.
Both the Devil’s Army and Langford Savages appeared to be helping with party preparations and were seen carrying in supplies. The Army, based in Campbell River, was manning the barbecue.
Also in attendance were the Throttle Lockers, from 100 Mile House, the Jesters and Shadow Club, both out of Surrey, the Horsemen Brotherhood and a few out-of-province puppet club members.
Houghton said CFSEU is tracking the puppet clubs.
“We know who they are. We watch them very closely and that’s why events like this are very important for us from an intelligence perspective,” he said. “This is an invitation-only event so you have to have some pretty significant status to get invited to this. It is a big event for the Hells Angels.”
He said the puppet clubs have to mimic the Hells Angels in structure and rules. Not all of them survive. In recent years, the Renegades in Prince George folded after a series of arrests of members.
Hells Angels spokesman Rick Ciarniello, who attended the anniversary party, did not respond to requests for an interview.
Houghton said puppet clubs are used to protect Hells Angels members so “they are multiple degrees separated from the actual street-level distribution of drugs.”
“They do a very good job of insulating themselves. And quite frankly, that is one of the reasons why they’ve been successful. And it is a challenge for police to gather information and evidence to investigate them. Never mind the fact that people are fearful and they don’t want to come forward.”
But they can also face risks when Hells Angels are targeted with violence and they are nearby.
“There are real consequences. Even just hanging out with them, it may seem like fun riding bikes with these guys for the weekend, but you are putting yourself at risk, you are putting your family at risk,” Houghton said. “And that’s why we are here to make sure that everyone stays safe.”
Timeline of some events related to the Hells Angels in B.C. over the past decade:
July 13, 2009 – Four Hells Angels were convicted on a series of charges stemming from the E-Pandora investigation targeting the East End Hells Angels in Vancouver.
Aug. 14, 2011 – Hells Angel Larry Amero was seriously wounded in a targeted Kelowna shooting that left Red Scorpion Jonathan Bacon dead and two others wounded.
Nov. 1, 2012 – Amero charged in Montreal with associates in the Wolf Pack with leading international cocaine smuggling ring.
Jan. 30, 2013 – Two Kelowna Hells Angels, Norman Cocks and Robert Thomas, pleaded guilty to manslaughter for beating Kelowna grandfather Dain Phillips to death as he attempted to resolve a dispute his sons had with some HA associates. They were sentenced to 15 years in jail.
Dec. 16, 2014 – Longtime Hells Angel Robert “Fred” Widdifield, a founding member of the Nanaimo chapter, was convicted of extortion and theft. He was later sentenced to five years.
Sept. 30, 2016 – Kelowna Hells Angel Dave Giles convicted of one count of conspiracy to import cocaine, one count of conspiracy to traffic cocaine, and one count of possession for the purpose of trafficking cocaine; James Howard was found guilty of one count of conspiracy to traffic cocaine and one count of possession for the purpose of trafficking cocaine; and Bryan Oldham and Shawn Womacks were found guilty of one count of possession for the purpose of trafficking cocaine.
Oct. 16, 2016 – High-profile Hells Angel Bob Green is found shot to death in Langley. A day later, his friend and gang associate Jason Wallace turned himself into police. He later pleaded guilty to manslaughter after telling the court his and his family’s lives were threatened after the drunken, drug-fuelled shooting.
Oct. 26, 2016 – White Rock Hells Angels prospect Mohammed Rafiq, 43, was shot in the face while driving near his Burnaby home. He survived.
March 8, 2017 – The body of Nanaimo Hells Angels prospect Michael Gregory Widner is found near Sooke, days after he was reported missing. He was murdered.
Aug. 30, 2017 – Montreal conspiracy charges stayed against Hells Angel Larry Amero due to delays in the case.
Jan. 25, 2018 – Hells Angel Larry Amero is charged with conspiracy to kill rivals Sandip Duhre and Sukh Dhak. Both were shot to death months apart in 2012. The murders are believed to have been retaliation for the 2011 Kelowna shooting.
April 23, 2018 – Civil forfeiture case begins in B.C. Supreme Court, more than a decade after the case began. It has now been adjourned until fall 2018.