Biker gang eliminated in Manitoba, say RCMP
RCMP believe Rock Machine no longer operating in the province following 11 arrests
Manitoba's notorious outlaw motorcycle gang, Rock Machine, has been wiped out, according to RCMP.
RCMP's D Division says it believes the Rock Machine is no longer operating in the province, after nearly a dozen arrests were made in the Winnipeg area this week.
"I think [it was] a significant day for the safety of Manitobans," Cpl. Miles Hiebert told reporters on Thursday.
On Wednesday, officers executed numerous raids, including one at Ken's Kustom Auto, a machine shop on Wall Street near Portage Avenue. The raid closed the area to traffic for hours.
More than 140 police officers were involved in the raid, in which they seized two pipe bombs and eight commercial explosives, as well as a cache of firearms and ammunition.
Also seized were 1.3 kilograms of cocaine, 3.6 kilograms of marijuana, a 2009 Audi S5, Rock Machine clothing and a "significant amount" of cash.
"To be doing and be executing a search warrant at a commercial premises and find something as dangerous as pipe bombs and these type of explosives, it certainly gives you pause to think," said Hiebert.
Lynda Wilson owns Faveri's Wood Furniture, which is located next to Ken's Kustom Auto, where one of the raids took place.
"My husband was here, and the RCMP came to him and asked him to evacuate," said Wilson.
"They said it was because of the possibility of a bomb next door."
11 people face charges
RCMP said the arrests were made as part of Project Dilemma, which has been tracking the Rock Machine since August.
As part of the operation, police had seized nearly six kilograms of cocaine and 1,800 tablets of benzylpiperazine (BZP), a synthetic drug similar to ecstasy, as well as firearms and a commercial explosive device, prior to Wednesday's raid.
At least 11 people are now facing drug-related and firearms charges in connection with the Rock Machine raids.
Five of the 11 people arrested were alleged Rock Machine members. One of those, Joseph John Strachan, had his home in St. Vital firebombed in 2011.
Wilson said she was shocked to hear gang activity was happening next door to her business.
"We've never suspected anything like that," said Wilson. "They keep pretty low-key over there. They're good neighbours."
The owner of the auto shop declined to comment but said the shop will reopen once the mess left from the raid is cleaned up.
"I think our streets are safer," said Manitoba RCMP Supt. Robert Bazin.
"It's not to say the battle is over. It's clearly not over. You know there's other groups waiting in the wings and other criminals waiting in the wings to pick up the slack," Bazin added.
RCMP Assistant Commissioner Kevin Brosseau said the arrests will cut into the drug trade in Winnipeg.
"Drug trafficking not only threatens the health and well-being of our young people, it is often linked to violence and property crime," said Brosseau.
Additional charges are pending, according to RCMP.
"We will always be proactive," said Bazin.