Rival gang eyes Hells Angels’ turf in B.C.

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A top Vancouver-area cop says Rock Machine colours have been seen in the Lower Mainland

Rival gang eyes Hells Angels’ turf in B.C.

 

Associates of the Rock Machine — a notorious gang that clashed with the Hells Angels in Quebec’s bloody Bikers’ War — are threatening to invade the Angels’ turf in B.C., The Province has learned. Although the Rock Machine is not believed to be officially active in B.C., several individuals wearing Rock Machine colours have been spotted in the Lower Mainland, a top Vancouver-area cop told The Province on Thursday.

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Associates of the Rock Machine — a notorious gang that clashed with the Hells Angels in Quebec’s bloody Bikers’ War — are threatening to invade the Angels’ turf in B.C., The Province has learned.

Although the Rock Machine is not believed to be officially active in B.C., several individuals wearing Rock Machine colours have been spotted in the Lower Mainland, a top Vancouver-area cop told The Province on Thursday.

The officer was interviewed after a purported Rock Machine associate contacted a reporter, claiming the gang plans to set up a full chapter in Vancouver within a year. The man predicted trouble with the Hells Angels, claiming that potential members wearing Rock Machine “support” gear have been threatened recently.

Quebec’s Bikers’ War claimed 160 lives and lasted from 1994 to 2002, as the Rock Machine and Hells Angels fought for drug turf, court records say. There were more than 300 attempted murders, and terror spilled into the public, with cars and businesses bombed. An 11-year-old boy, Daniel Desrochers, was killed by shrapnel as he played near a vehicle that was blown up.

Gang-war bombings haven’t been a concern in Vancouver since the 1990s, when the Hells Angels clashed with a Russian gang.

“That is how they look after those sorts of conflicts, and the car bomb was one of the most effective tools they used back in Quebec,” the officer said. “So my point is that it is not a stretch to see the Quebec-like response here in B.C., because they have done it before.”

The officer said he has heard “rumblings” since 2005 that Rock Machine members wanted to break into B.C., but the Hells Angels have explicitly told police they would oppose such a move.

Right now in B.C., any person wearing a “three-piece” patch that denotes an outlaw bike gang member must get permission from the Hells Angels, he said.

“(The Hells Angels) will not take this at all lightly, if they start seeing people riding around displaying a Rock Machine patch,” the officer said.

Following the Quebec violence, the Rock Machine amalgamated with another biker gang, the Bandidos, but later reformed under their original name. In Winnipeg, the Rock Machine clashed with a “puppet club” connected to the Hells Angels, with a gang war climaxing in shootings and firebombings in the summer of 2011.

“The war has been quiet in the past few months, but the rivalry is still existent and it appears the Rock Machine outlaw motorcycle gang are still intent on expanding their presence here and across Canada,” police wrote in 2012, according to the Winnipeg Sun.

If the Rock Machine in fact plans to challenge the Hells Angels in B.C., it could be because of a perceived power vacuum.

“It is my view that with all of the gang killings around the region in the recent years and with law enforcement that has been very effective with some massive prosecutions, ... there is a void that is out there to be filled,” a police biker gang expert told The Province.

But fears of B.C. biker wars last raised in 2004 never materialized. At that time Bob Paulson — who was B.C.’s leading biker gang expert and now is Canada’s top Mountie — warned that the Bandidos intended to set up a chapter in B.C., and it would be “soon ... and troublesome.”

It didn’t happen, and the Bandidos broke up in 2006.

Sgt. Lindsey Houghton, of the Combined Forces Special Enforcement Unit, said he doesn’t view claims made by B.C. Rock Machine hopefuls as credible.

“Someone saying the Rock Machine is coming to B.C. is very different from the club sending a large number of members, and setting up a chapter and buying land,” Houghton said Thursday.

Julian Sher — an author and bike gang expert who now is a producer for CBC Television’s The Fifth Estate — also said it sounds as if the Rock Machine is floating “dangerous dreams.”

“It sounds like they are literally trying to plant the flag, but many (biker gangs) have tried in B.C. and all have failed,” Sher said.

Unlike the situation in other countries, the Hells Angels have “managed a virtual monopoly in Canada, and B.C. has probably been the most monopolistic,” Sher said.

“They maintain dominance either by absorbing others, or wiping them out as they tried in Quebec.

“(The Rock Machine associate) who called you, I don’t think he’s going to drive down Robson Street with the Rock Machine patch on his back, because he won’t make it to Stanley Park.”

In a brief phone call Rick Ciarniello, a member and spokesman with Hells Angels in B.C., was asked about police spotting people wearing Rock Machine gear in the Lower Mainland.

“I don’t know a thing about it,” Ciarniello said, adding he had no comment for this story.

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