Calgary

Biker gang turf wars could break out in economic slump, Calgary police say

Police in the province are concerned there could be a spike in violence between rival motorcycle gangs if the economy worsens.

'We’re just concerned that it’s going to start to multiply,' says Insp. Darcy Strang

Police in Alberta are concerned the downturn in the economy could spark more frequent clashes among rival biker gangs. (Jason Franson/Canadian Press)

Police in the province are concerned there could be a spike in violence between rival motorcycle gangs if the economy worsens.

Much like legitimate entrepreneurs, outlaw biker groups were drawn to Alberta when times were good a few years ago, Insp. Darcy Strang with the Alberta Law Enforcement Teams (ALERT) told the Calgary Eyeopener on Thursday.

"Our province was really ripe because our economy was really flourishing at that time," he said.

Strang says police are beginning to see evidence that job losses in Alberta are creating tensions in the world of organized crime as things like the drug trade become less lucrative.

"As soon as things get a little bit tight, it gets tight for them too, and there becomes turf wars," he said.

Recent violence in smaller communities such as like Drayton Valley, Whitecourt, Cold Lake, Lloydminster and Spruce Grove could be a sign of what's to come, Strang said.

"This is just sort of a prediction. It's just kind of a little bit of a caution. We've seen it happen in B.C. and we would not like it to happen here," he said.

Hells Angels the most powerful

"We're just concerned that it's going to start to multiply," said Strang.

He said the Hells Angels are the most powerful gang in Alberta with two chapters in Edmonton — one in Red Deer and two in Calgary.

"And they have 24 support gangs that are supporting them in a number of ways," he said.

"They typically do some of the dirty business. They'll do some of the illegal activities. They'll work so they can actually make their way up to the actual Hell's Angels patch group."

The competitor gangs operating in Alberta are the Warlocks, the Loners, the Rebels and the Rock Machine, he said. 

ALERT is made up of police teams who focus on serious and organized crime, typically involving gangs, drug trafficking or child exploitation.

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