Ottawa police warn public to ‘steer clear’ as hundreds of Hells Angels descend on capital for convention

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As hundreds of outlaw bikers continue their trek to the nation’s capital for a Hells Angels gathering this weekend, law enforcement agencies are warning the public of an increased presence of not only bikers but also police.

Det.-Staff Sgt. Len Isnor, head of the provincial biker enforcement unit — of which Ottawa police are a part — said the weekend is expected to be quiet but police are “prepared for anything.”

The outlaw bikers, and members of their affiliate and puppet clubs, are expected to gather in Ottawa from Friday to Sunday for what’s called their “Canada Run” — an annual convention.

Bruce Deachman, Ottawa Citizen
Bruce Deachman, Ottawa CitizenA Hells Angels Nomads member at the front gate of the group's compound in Carlsbad Springs.

There are four main police forces that will monitor their presence — Ottawa police, Ontario Provincial Police, Gatineau police and Quebec provincial police — but Isnor said the public and outlaw bikers will see the shoulder flashers of police forces from across the country in and around Carlsbad Springs, where the Nomad clubhouse is.

“This is organized crime coming from all over Canada meeting in one location,” Isnor said. So officers across the country have a “vested interest” in the gathering, he said.

The Hells Angels Nomads 5th Chapter clubhouse is on Piperville Road, formerly 8th Line Road, in Carlsbad Springs. The clubhouse is about 16 years old and houses about 12 members of the Nomads.

Police are expecting anywhere from 500 to 700 people to congregate on the approximately one-acre plot of land, with some likely staying overnight elsewhere.

Bruce Deachman, Ottawa Citizen
Bruce Deachman, Ottawa CitizenA 13 Crew member stands sentry at the front gate of the Hells Angels Nomads compound in Carlsbad Springs.

The clubhouse was most recently raided at the end of June when some arrests were made, but its contingent had long before succeeded in its bid to bring the mandatory run to the capital.

Canada Run locations are selected in much the same way Olympic host cities are — a bid is put in by a local chapter and one man gets one vote until there is a clear winner.

There are three regions of Hells Angels chapters — the west region, the east region, and essentially Ontario, or the central region, which divides the country. This year marks the 15th anniversary of the 11 Hells Angels chapters in Ontario and the bikers will be looking to celebrate, Isnor said.

Police do expect a large contingent of the visiting bikers to make their way into the communities and to frequent bars, restaurants and strip clubs in surrounding areas but encourage civilians to leave them alone and report any suspicious activity to police.

They are organized crime. If they can steer clear of these people, by all means.

“We’re telling the public to limit their contact with these people. They are organized crime. If they can steer clear of these people, by all means,” Isnor said.

“They’re going to use this opportunity to demonstrate to the public that they are who they are,” Isnor said. “The power of that patch is a big part of who they are. By having the numbers here and riding through the community, it’s going to have an impact.”

The runs show the strength of the Hells Angels as a continued criminal presence in the country. “They’re going to be here in vast numbers and it’s going to be a message to the community.”

Alan S. Hale/Timmins Daily Press/Postmedia Network
Alan S. Hale/Timmins Daily Press/Postmedia Network

Yet, the group gatherings are also ideal for police looking to keep tabs on the outlaw bikers, an established organized crime group with a network of official chapters and pawn outfits across the country.

“They know that we try to intercept their private communications, so what better way of communicating but face-to-face?” Isnor said.

Isnor said the biker gang is stronger than in previous years but this isn’t a resurgence. The club has continued to exist but major police operations put key players behind bars and now that those jail stints are over, “there’s never been a time over the past six, seven years that there’s been more back on the streets.”

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