The arrest of nine P.E.I. men police believe are part of a Hells Angels hangaround chapter in Charlottetown is a significant move, says a gang expert with the Ontario Provincial Police.
"That's the whole chapter there. I think that will have a big impact," said Det. Staff Sgt. Len Isnor.
The men, aged 19 to 63 and from communities stretching from Kensington to Murray River, face charges related to lotteries and games of chance, including participating in any activity of a criminal organization.
Isnor said police believe the men were affiliated with the Hells Angel chapter in Woodbridge, Ont., and were working towards forming a full chapter in Charlottetown.
While this is blow to the chapter's efforts, said Isnor, he noted the men are innocent until proven guilty and everyone will have to wait to see what happens as the charges move through the court system.
Police began warning last September about Hells Angels' attempts to organize in the Maritimes, and Isnor said now was the time to strike.
"It makes the most sense. Get them before they get established. You don't want them established in your community. It's time to nip it in the bud now. It's very good tactics," he said.
"Once they get established it's very difficult to get them out."
What's a hangaround?
Isnor explained there are two preliminary steps in establishing a Hells Angel chapter.
The first is hangaround status, and members spend about a year at this stage.
"They'll test your loyalty, and that's the whole idea behind the process of becoming a Hells Angel member," said Isnor.
With a minimum of six by club rules, or more often eight, a hangaround chapter can be formed.
Having passed the hangaround phase, members can become prospects, and that phase will again last a year before members can become full patch. Again, a minimum of six, or more often eight, full patch members are required to form a full chapter.
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