HALIFAX — The Hells Angels have re-established an evolving presence in Atlantic Canada, although experts say they have not expanded their roster of full-patch members since first reappearing in the region more than two years ago.
Police and organized crime experts say it’s not clear why the country’s most powerful outlaw biker gang has not found any local prospects worthy of full membership, but confirm the Angels are retrenching after their former Halifax chapter was smashed by police in 2001.
Stephen Schneider, a criminology professor at Saint Mary’s University who has written extensively on organized crime, believes the establishment of a new puppet club in the last year — the Red Devils — is a significant sign of intent.
“The Red Devils is pretty much their sort of AAA affiliate club internationally,” said Schneider. “So this is a signal that the Hells Angels have not given up and that they are really serious about their presence in Atlantic Canada.”
The Red Devils have set up chapters in Moncton, N.B., and in Halifax.
The members of the Halifax Red Devils chapter, which was set up in July, were recruited from two other biker clubs, the Gatekeepers and the Darksiders, according to RCMP Staff Sgt. Guylaine Cottreau of the Criminal Intelligence Service Nova Scotia.
“They were known to the Hells Angels and they came from the already existing support clubs,” said Cottreau. “We have no Hells Angels prospects … but they still have a good footprint in the province with their support clubs.”
Cottreau said there had been a Nova Scotia prospects chapter, but it fell below six members this fall, and they’ve since become prospects for the Hells Angels in New Brunswick, where a Hells Angels Nomads club includes some full patch members that were transplanted to that province.
She said in addition to the Red Devils, Nova Scotia has a series of other outlaw gangs, including Darksiders clubs in Dartmouth and the Annapolis Valley, Sedition clubs in Fall River and Weymouth, and Highlanders clubs in Antigonish, Pictou County, and Cape Breton.
Experts believe the Angels are looking to expand territory and crack the drug trade in a region with several thousand kilometres of coastline, which makes it easier to import drugs.
The only so-called group of one percenters — the elite outlaw bikers — in Nova Scotia is the Bacchus Motorcycle Club, which appears to have reached a detente region-wide with the Angels. It was also declared a criminal organization in a July ruling by a Nova Scotia Supreme Court judge — a move that has the potential to put a damper on its activities because it establishes tougher sentencing for crimes carried out to benefit the club.