In the last week, the center of the global war on motorcycle clubs has shifted to Canada and the prime target there is the Hells Angels.
Last week, the Department of Justice for the Canadian province of Manitoba officially declared the Hells Angels Motorcycle Club to be a “criminal organization.”
The declaration means that Manitoba prosecutors no longer have to prove that the Hells Angels are an organized criminal entity in order to enhance the sentences of club members found guilty of breaking the law. Until now, prosecutors had to prove that an accused man was actually a racketeer before sentencing him like one. Now in Manitoba, Hells Angels are no longer presumed to be innocent. They are now presumed to be racketeers.
Manitoba Justice Minister Andrew Swan called the abandonment of a presumption of innocence “…a milestone for Canada and a clear signal that Manitoba will continue to develop and use every tool available to fight criminal organizations and the threat they pose to Manitobans. It is now law in Manitoba the Hells Angels Motorcycle Club is a criminal organization.”
“The Hells Angels Motorcycle Club was actually given the opportunity to come forward and present some evidence to suggest they were not a criminal organization,” Swan told the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. “As I understand it, there was no response to that.”
A defense attorney named Jay Prober told the CBC he doesn’t think the new declaration will make much difference in criminal cases. “I don’t think it was necessary. It’s window dressing, but it makes good politics and gets votes,” Prober said. “I doubt this piece of legislation will withstand a constitutional challenge.”
Where the new law will make a difference is in civil forfeiture cases. What Manitoba police and prosecutors seem to be after is an easier path to stealing the assets of Hells Angels charters and patch holders. The new declaration will make it harder to fight forfeiture.
Yesterday Kim Bolan, the Vancouver Sun’s beat reporter covering “gangs, terrorism, crime and justice,” wrote that Angels charters in Canada had begun to liquidate their assets to avoid forfeiture. Bolan quoted Detective Sergeant Len Isnor of the Ontario Provincial Police Biker Enforcement Unit who heard it through the grapevine that Canadian Angels are saying, “it’s not worth it and they are selling their assets. It seems to be a new trend in Ontario.”
Sergeant Isnor told Bolan that Manitoba made the criminal declaration because “They were tired of waiting for the federal government. The courts are just bogged down…. We are proving water is wet over and over again.”
Bolan also reported yesterday that the British Columbia Nomads recently sold their clubhouse for $2.175 million.
No corpus. No corpus delicti. No assets. No assets to forfeit.