A Southwestern Ontario drug-trafficking probe that saw three alleged Hells Angels charged deals a significant blow to the gang’s ability to make money in the region, says a senior London police officer.
Known as Operation Hollister, the three-month London-led probe targeted drug trafficking, not the Hells Angels organization, Supt. Christopher Newton, the head of the criminal investigation division, said Monday.
Three alleged Hells Angels members — two from London, one from Stratford — are among 10 people charged after police seized drugs, cash and weapons in co-ordinated raids in London, Stratford, New Hamburg and Kitchener last week.
“It’s an extremely significant blow to their ability to make profit from their criminal activity,” Newton said of the world’s largest outlaw motorcycle gang.
The probe, a joint effort with the OPP and RCMP, resulted in the seizure last Thursday of more than $240,000 in drugs, including cocaine, marijuana, cannabis resin, crack and oxycodone pills, police said. Officers also seized body armour, a cocaine press, two conducted-energy weapons and $62,000 in cash.
Londoners Joseph Stokes, 39, and John Bohnsack, 40, both alleged Hells Angels members, are charged with possessing drugs for trafficking. Bohnsack also faces two counts of possessing cannabis for distribution and single counts of possessing a prohibited weapon and conspiring to commit an indictable offence.
Stratford resident Frank Strauss, 44, an alleged Hells Angels member, is charged with two counts of possessing drugs for trafficking and possessing marijuana for distribution.
None of the charges against Stokes, Bohnsack and Strauss have been proven in court, nor has it been proven they are members of the Hells Angels.
The three men were released on bail Friday. Strauss and Stokes paid cash deposits of $5,000 and $2,500, respectively, while Bohnsack wasn’t required to put up money, court records show.
Also facing drugs and weapon charges are Sheena Bowden, 35, Lindy Grieve, 38, Jeffery Maslen, 40, Jean Thomson, 77, David Thomson, 48, and William Davidson, 65, all of London, and Michael Fuller, 43, of Kitchener.
The arrests mark the third time alleged members of the London Hells Angels chapter — estimated to have 12 full-patch bikers — have been charged in just over a year.
Chapter founder Robert Barletta, 50, was arrested at Pearson International Airport in Toronto on Dec. 13, 2019, as part of Operation Hobart, a two-year investigation into an alleged multimillion-dollar gambling operation that police contend was run by members of the Hells Angels and an alleged Toronto crime family.
“On the heels of Hobart, it’s definitely an added bonus for us,” Newton said of the latest charges against the alleged bikers.
In January 2019, alleged London Hells Angels member Sean Burger, 48, was charged after police searched two homes and a storage locker, seizing two stun guns, brass knuckles, three Hells Angels vests, $15,000 worth of cocaine, oxycodone pills, weigh scales and cash, the OPP said.
Burger is to appear for a preliminary hearing May 1 on charges of possessing drugs for trafficking, possessing a prohibited device and possessing a firearm contrary to a probation order.
Court records show Stokes and Strauss have a history or run-ins with the law.
Between 1999 and 2014, Stokes was convicted of uttering threats, assault, breaking and entering and causing a disturbance. He drew a 12-month jail term for a 2000 break and enter conviction, court records show.
Strauss was sentenced to 15 months in jail for drug trafficking in 2008, court records show.