Theft of Fort McMurray gang rival's vest a 'killing offence,' says expert
'Someone might get gunned down over this,' outlaw gang expert says
Court documents obtained by CBC News reveal five full patch members of the Warlocks outlaw motorcycle gang in Fort McMurray are accused of stealing the vest worn by a rival gang member.
The alleged crime is loaded with significance, according to international outlaw motorcycle gang expert and author Yves Lavigne.
"Someone might get gunned down over this," he said. "The theft of colours is a killing offence."
RCMP said tensions have simmered since August between the Warlocks and the Syndicate, a Hells Angels support group. In a news conference Monday, RCMP reassured the public they were serious about fighting organized crime in that city, and cited the arrest of five full-patch members as a significant step.
But RCMP refused to provide details of the alleged vest theft that led to the arrests.
The five Warlocks allegedly approached Syndicate member Dale Perry 'in a public place', armed with pepper spray and brass knuckles and forcibly removed Perry's vest on Tuesday afternoon last week.
"Both clubs know what the status of a vest means. There's a lot of pride in their vests. I compare it to a uniform, whether it be military or police or whatever. We hold those in great honour and a lot of it's earned," Sgt. Lance Parker with the Alberta Law Enforcement Review Team (ALERT) said in an interview with CBC.
"I've read the world rules for the Hells Angels and for the Warlocks," he continued. "And you're supposed to fight to the death before you give up your vest."
That makes the theft of a rival's vest especially significant.
"It's basically showing the other club we are the dominant club," Parker said. "We can take your vest. It's supposed to show that dominance between the clubs."
'These guys are cowards'
Lavigne, who has written more than a dozen books on organized crime, said the alleged crime goes beyond symbolism. He thinks it also speaks volumes about the five men accused of committing what's described in court documents as "the indictable offence or robbery in association with a criminal organization."
"What this gesture shows us — five guys attacking one guy — is how spineless these punks are," Lavigne said. "To go after a guy's colours. They would never do it one on one."
Speaking to CBC News from Toronto, Lavigne also criticized the alleged use of pepper spray and brass knuckles to rob Perry.
"Weapons like that indicate a person is a coward," he said. "It's disappointing to me living back east. I would have hoped there would be some hint of manliness left out west, especially in Alberta."
Possible end of Warlocks chapter in Fort McMurray
ALERT described the Syndicate as one of about two dozen Hells Angels support groups currently operating in the province and said they've been active in Fort McMurray since 2009.
Parker said the Warlocks have been operating in Fort McMurray since 2010, as one of two Canadian chapters of the Florida-based organization.The other Canadian chapter is in Edmonton. A third chapter that operated out of Drayton Valley was dismantled in 2014 when ALERT arrested four members.
He hopes the Fort McMurray arrests will mark the demise of that chapter as well.
"Taking five members out of any chapter is quite significant," he said.
Parker hopes holding the five Warlocks in custody will also lower the possibility of retaliation.
But Lavigne worries there could be retribution if they're released on bail.
"This may stir up more animosity between the two groups and they may seek retribution," he said.
"I think they're going to kill someone for it. They're going to send a real serious message."
While the RCMP has insisted the public has nothing to fear, Lavigne is concerned someone outside the gangs could get caught in any crossfire.
"My concern is collateral damage," he said. "Since this (alleged) robbery took place in public, retribution may take place in public. And I would not want to see an innocent person hurt or killed."
Lavigne is blunt in his assessment of the group.
"These guys should have been drummed out of the province a long time ago by the cops," he said. "The cops really need to stomp on them because these guys are cowards."
According to the Warlocks' website, their club motto is, "To find us, you must be good; to catch us, you must be fast; to beat us, you must be kidding."