British Columbia

New legislation enables seizure of Nanaimo Hells Angels clubhouse

Police raided an alleged Hells Angels clubhouse in downtown Nanaimo and turned it over to the B.C. government on Friday.

Police raided an alleged Hells Angels clubhouse indowntownNanaimo and turned it over to the B.C. governmenton Friday.

The commercial property, owned by Angel Acres Recreation and Festival Properties Limited, is known to be a hangout of a local chapter of the Hells Angels, said police.

The government obtained a civil court order under a rather new law, Civil Forfeiture Act, passed in May 2006, thatallows the province to seize property used for unlawful activity, saidSolicitor General John Les.

"We are able to seize properties and assets that we think have been gained through unlawful activity or are the instruments of unlawful activity," Les told CBC News.

Les won't talk about allegations against the motorcycle gang, but noted "it is up to the owners or the owner of that property or assets to demonstrate to the court that they were in factlawfully obtained or lawfully used."

"Hopefully we will get an order where at the end of day this property will be forfeited to the provincial government at whichpoint we will sell the propertyand use the proceeds for crime fighting and other policing resources," he said.

Under the court order, the building and its contents are legally frozen and can't be used, mortgaged or sold.

The building was empty when more than three dozen officers conducted the raid. No one was arrested.

The Solicitor General's office said there are 60 other cases being pursued under theCivil Forfeiture Act, and over $2 million in cash and assets from other forfeitures have been turned over to taxpayers in the past 17 months.

The Nanaimo Hells Angels chapter is one of seven in B.C. listed on the club's website.