5 men arrested in Hells Angels-linked drug investigation

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Woman and 8 men charged in Hells Angels-linked drug investigation

Five men have been arrested in northern New Brunswick as part of an investigation into the cocaine trade that is "linked" to the Hells Angels.

Operation J-Thunder, which started in November 2016, targets the sale of cocaine on the Acadian Peninsula and in Restigouche, Madawaska and Victoria counties.

The New Brunswick arrests are connected to a series of raids carried out in Quebec on Tuesday, resulting in what police described as the dismantling of three major Hells Angels-controlled drug trafficking rings in that province.

Police allege the rings were providing drugs that were sold in northern New Brunswick.

"Basically, that territory over there was controlled ultimately by the Hells Angels from chapters south, Montreal and Trois-Rivières here in Quebec," said Insp. Guy Lapointe of the Quebec provincial police.

Four men from Allardville — aged 40, 45, 55 and 58 — and a 43-year-old Évangéline man will appear in Bathurst provincial court on Wednesday at 9:30 a.m.

No charges have been laid against them yet.

"This is still an ongoing investigation and we anticipate there to be more arrests made," New Brunswick RCMP Cpl. Jullie Rogers-Marsh said.

A 'significant blow' to Hells Angels

​The men arrested on Tuesday aren't members of the Hells Angels, police said.

RCMP said the men are linked to outlaw motorcycle gangs in Quebec and New Brunswick but wouldn't say whether they belonged to specific affiliate clubs.

"Look at it this way: Hells Angels generally have other people going about the dirty business," said Lapointe, of the Sûreté du Québec.

"There are affiliated clubs here in Quebec, obviously some of them in New Brunswick. They go about usually running the distribution."

In Quebec, police arrested at least 63 people on Tuesday, seizing cocaine, methamphetamine pills, firearms and $2.5 million in cash.

Lapointe estimated the three large drug rings in Quebec have done about $10 million worth of business in the last eight months.

Tuesday's arrests will take away some of the money used to finance criminal activities, he said.

"We think we've dealt them a significant blow, but obviously I don't think we've put the Hells Angels out of business."

A monopoly

The organization has a "monopoly" on cocaine and synthetic drug sales in Quebec, according to Lapointe.

"They'll use every means at their disposal, whether it be affiliated groups wearing their colours, resorting to violence to maintain control of this territory," he said.

"We also know they control certain areas in Ontario but also in New Brunswick, and they're resorting to these tactics."

In the past, police may have launched one big investigation targeting as many as 80 people.

But this time, they split the probe into five smaller investigations, including the RCMP-led Operation J-Thunder in New Brunswick.

"That reduces ... the size of the project and the complexity of the evidence," Lapointe said.

That comes in light of the Supreme Court of Canada's Jordan ruling, which allows charges facing "unreasonable delay" to be stayed.

'They're here in New Brunswick'

Police in the region have been watching the expansion of motorcycle gangs, and the prospect of violence as groups battle for turf.

"We know that they're here in New Brunswick," Rogers-Marsh said.

"The outlaw motorcycle groups are a priority for the RCMP."

In 2016, the Hells Angels strengthened its presence in the province by planting six members here.

They established a Nomads chapter, made up of long-standing, elite Hells Angels members. The organization is called Nomads because they don't have their own clubhouse, unlike traditional chapters.

Last year, police arrested Robin Moulton, described by RCMP as a full-patch member of the Hells Angels, and charged him with three cocaine trafficking-related charges.

He also faces nine charges relating to firearms, including a high-powered rifle with a silencer and loaded 9-mm handgun.

They also arrested Marie Antonette Bugay, identified by police as one of Moulton's "known associates," and charged her with 10 drug and weapons-related crimes.

They will stand trial together in Woodstock Court of Queen's Bench next February.

RCMP in New Brunswick also continue to investigate the homicide of a former Bacchus motorcycle club member.

Ronald Richard's body was discovered last July 23 on a rural property in Hardwood Ridge, near Minto.

A Facebook post from Moulton described Richard as the "fallen president" of the Gate Keepers' Capital City chapter, a club known to be a support group or farm team for the Hells Angels.

Earlier last year, Bathurst Mayor Paolo Fongemie called on the provincial government to ban biker gangs, as the community grew concerned with the presence of a biker group called the Darksiders North Shore.

A member of the biker group fired back at the mayor, accusing him of "slander" and "fearmongering."

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