Outlaw bikers among 27 suspects snapped in Ontario’s bust
According to police, 27 suspects, including members of illegal biker gangs, were arrested after a joint investigation that led to the seizure of drugs, cash and a dozen firearms.
Dubbed Project Coyote, the 13-month drug and arms smuggling investigation involved Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) and officers in Belleville, Toronto and Windsor.
They are profit oriented and seem to stop at nothing to get it. – OPP chef supp. Paul Mackey
Three members of the Hells Angels and three members of the biker gang Red Devils were among those arrested, according to Chief Supt. Paul Mackey of the OPP Bureau of Organized Crime.
“Urban street gangs are erupting from neighborhoods and morphing into global criminal networks,” Mackey said during a video briefing on the project Thursday afternoon. “They get bigger. They get braver.”
The research also shows that groups are moving from traditional territories to large urban centers, he added.
“We’re seeing the move into smaller communities,” Mackey said. “They are driven by profit and seem to stop at nothing to get it.”
Det. Insp. Rob Henderson said the majority of the bikers are in the Belleville area, although one full member of the Hells Angels was from Windsor.
He described how the group built a clubhouse on Highway 37, then moved it to a downtown store before moving back to Quinte West. This last location was searched on Wednesday as part of the investigation.
Weapons, drugs, vehicles and cash confiscated
Police said a 3D-printed Glock P80 and a stolen Ruger 357 were among the firearms found during the investigation, along with three sawed-off shotguns.
According to the OPP, investigators seized body armor and motorcycle gear, including Hells Angels vests, membership lists and photos, along with 10 vehicles and more than $370,000 in cash.
They also seized 16 kilograms of cocaine, 1.5 kilograms of fentanyl and six kilograms of crystal methamphetamine.
The charges range from drug and firearms offenses to involvement in a criminal organization.
An OPP media release notes the investigation is ongoing and more charges and seizures may be added.
Belleville Police Service Deputy Chief Chris Barry said the Hells Angels and their “puppet club,” the Red Devils, intimidate residents and seek to profit from the “misery they inflict on our most vulnerable citizens.”
The presence of biker gangs, who have sported their colors as they cruised through the city in recent years, has undermined many residents’ sense of security, he said, adding that the arrests will have another effect.
“It’s going to put a big, big dent in the flow of illegal drugs into this community.”
Barry said Project Coyote sent a “powerful message” to organized crime.
“You open a shop in Belleville or you open a shop in Cornwall or Kingston, you’re not just confronted with the police department there,” he explained.
“You will face the combined might of law enforcement agencies from across the province.”