Full return of Hells Angels looming in Nova Scotia, say police
Police say violence, drug trafficking associated with biker gangs is on the rise in the province
Police in Nova Scotia say they expect a full-fledged chapter of the Hells Angels to be established in the province in a matter of months.
Last year, a support club opened in Musquodoboit Harbour, just east of Dartmouth. Police say that club is already having an impact.
"We have seen, over the course of the last six months, a number of incidents that have gone unreported to police," said RCMP Cpl. Michael Kerr in a briefing with reporters on Tuesday.
Kerr cited cases where victims of crime wouldn't come forward or couldn't be located, or witnesses wouldn't co-operate with investigators.
Growing into full-fledged chapter
Police said Tuesday that the support club is on its way to becoming a full Hells Angels chapter.
"The Hells Angels have a sordid history in Nova Scotia and we do not want to see history repeat itself," said RCMP Insp. Mike Payne.
He heads the Criminal Intelligence Service of Nova Scotia, which tracks outlaw motorcycle gangs in the province.
He noted that the Angels first came to prominence in 1984 when they established a Halifax chapter.
By 1991, Payne said, competition for control of the province's drug trade was peaking. He said that led to bombings and other violence, including murder.
Barry Kirk Mersereau, 48, and his wife Nancy Christensen, 47 were shot and killed in their home in Centre Burlington in September 2000, victims of that drug war. Kirk's brother, Randy Mersereau, was the target of a bombing at his car dealership in Bible Hill shortly before the pair were killed. Randy Mersereau survived the blast but disappeared shortly afterwards.
It wasn't until 2003, when most members of the Halifax chapter were jailed in a major police operation that the Angels presence in Nova Scotia effectively ended.
Spreading to smaller communities
Police said Tuesday that outlaw motorcycle gangs are not just a big-city problem but also have an impact on smaller communities around the province.
"People are reporting, in particular, violence, violent incidents involving members and associates of these clubs," said Sgt. Ryan Leil of New Glasgow Police.
"That's the majority of what we're reporting now."
Leil heads Pictou County's integrated street crime enforcement unit. He also helps train officers in police forces around the province in how to deal with outlaw motorcycle gangs.
Angels not the only gang
The Angels aren't the only concern for those officers. RCMP Insp. Payne said a rival gang, Bacchus, also has a presence in Nova Scotia.
"They seem to be co-existing at the moment with the Hells Angels but they're traditional rivals," Payne said.
While police won't pin down exactly when a full Hells Angels chapter will be established, they say the looming threat is a concern.
"It would be naive to think that outlaw motorcycle gang members are not in Nova Scotia," said Kerr. "What I can tell you is we are getting reports of increased violence, increased drug trafficking and other related crimes that are associated with outlaw motorcycle gangs."