London may face fallout of Hells Angels-Outlaws tensions: OPP expert

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With tensions rising between the Hells Angels and the Outlaws, the OPP’s top biker cop warns no community, including London, is immune from violence that may result from the jockeying for turf.

The warning comes as the Ontario Provincial Police prepare to launch a campaign to educate the public about outlaw motorcycle clubs and deter people from buying the gangs’ merchandise.

A raid two weeks ago on the Oshawa home of a known Hells Angels affiliate yielded guns, drugs and evidence suggesting the biker gang’s longtime feud with the Outlaws is heating up, said Det.-Staff Sgt. Anthony Renton, the head of the OPP biker enforcement unit.

“Because what our intelligence is telling us now, and what we’re seeing in other parts of Canada, is there is violence occurring between the Hells Angels and the Outlaws. It can happen in London,” he said.

“Everything is about territory and jurisdiction and where can they profit . . . and get ahead of their rival gang.”

Members of a Canadian chapter of the Hells Angels. (File photo)

London has long been considered territory of the Hells Angels – the club has around a dozen full-patch members here – though the Outlaws have made recent efforts to reestablish their presence in the city.

But that effort was dealt a blow last fall when police charged London chapter’s president with counselling to commit murder. Three other men police alleged to be members of the club were charged with weapons and drug offences, leaving the Outlaws’ footprint in London uncertain.

Renton, a 30-year law-enforcement veteran who cut his teeth with the Peel Region police, is asking the public to help authorities clamp down on outlaw biker clubs.

The OPP will run its awareness campaign during the summer.

“If you’re going to go to Friday the 13th and support the Hells Angels by buying a T-shirt or something, we’re going to try to educate you and show you how you’re now supporting the criminal organization . . . ,” Renton said of the date of the Port Dover gathering of motorcycle lovers of all stripes.

Police are also urging motorcycle enthusiasts to take steps to differentiate themselves from their outlaw club counterparts, who sport vests adorned with patches depicting their club’s logo, name, the letters MC and a chapter identification.

“Let people around you know that you’re not part of the criminal element,” said Renton, who took the helm of the biker enforcement unit last year, replacing now-retired detective-sergeant Len Isnor.

With 54 members from 20 police forces and agencies, the biker enforcement unit is one of the largest joint force operations in Ontario.

Biker clubs are involved in the crimes like drug trafficking, extortion, frauds, gambling and human trafficking, Renton said.

“It evolves,” he said of their crime portfolio. “Any crime where there’s money to be made, you’ll find organized crime trying to benefit from it.”

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Dale Carruthers
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