Police say the infamous Hells Angels are making a play to regain control of Nova Scotia, causing tension with the existing Bacchus outlaw motorcycle gang and setting the stage for what could be a turf war in Atlantic Canada.
A new motorcycle club set up shop along Highway 7 in Musquodoboit Harbour this winter. The Gate Keepers wear a red and white patch, colours that carry a lot of weight in the outlaw world. They are aligned with the Hells Angels chapter in London, Ont.
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The CBC's Phonse Jessome will have more on Nova Scotia's outlaw motorcycle gangs on CBC News at 6 p.m.
The Angels left Nova Scotia in 2003 after a series of police raids put most of its members in prison.
RCMP Insp. Joanne Crampton said the new Gate Keepers patch has angered members of the black and gold wearing Bacchus.
"There's approximately 80 Bacchus here and they feel that they have Atlantic Canada as their territory. The concern now is that the Hells Angels have made it clear that they want Atlantic Canada to be their territory and they are now doing it through the Gate Keepers," she said.
There are several Bacchus chapters in Atlantic Canada — one in Nova Scotia, three in New Brunswick, one in Prince Edward Island and two in Newfoundland.
Bacchus is one of Canada's oldest biker clubs, with long-time links to the Hells Angels. Its members have been arrested in raids involving the Angels, and the club is respected in the outlaw biker world.
Still, when it comes to hierarchy the Bacchus feel they are equal to, not below, the Angels. Police say they fear that alpha dog mentality will play out in a territory fight.
Crampton said a disagreement among the clubs could bring a crime wave to the region.
"It can bring a lot of violence to our community it can bring tensions between the two groups as they look at how they are going to establish territory and how they are going to take over the Atlantic Canada area," she said.
Police expect members of the Gate Keepers, the Hells Angels and the Bacchus clubs to attend a party celebrating the anniversary of the Hells Angels-friendly Darksiders club in Dartmouth
Crampton says there will be a large police presence there to try to keep the groups from starting a turf war.
According to 2009 estimates by the Criminal Intelligence Service Canada, the Angels are believed to have 460 full-fledged members and 34 chapters in Canada.
What makes a biker gang?
According to police, biker gangs share several characteristics:
- They show off their colours in public.
- Biker gangs use force and violence to survive and grow. Intimidation, arms and explosives are their weapons of choice.
- The organizations have a hierarchical structure. Committing crimes is left to new recruits while those higher up reap the rewards.
- It is difficult for law-enforcement agencies to infiltrate these organizations because becoming a member involves committing crimes.