Police say they've dismantled a major drug network that allegedly controlled most of the cocaine and meth sales in New Brunswick and eastern Quebec.
Investigators allege two brothers managed the territory on behalf of the Hells Angels' Nomads chapter in New Brunswick, collecting a tax from dealers who want to sell cocaine or meth in the area.
"The structure that we took apart yesterday is going to have a very significant impact on the availability of some drugs," Insp. Guy Lapointe of the Quebec provincial police said Friday.
"We're thinking it's going to take months, if not years, to rebuild that structure."
Police allege the network was managed by 46-year-old brothers Éric and Yanick Blanchette, who both face several drug-related charges, including trafficking cocaine and meth.
Éric was arrested at his home in Edmundston on Thursday, and Yanick was arrested in Scott, Que.
The organization also controlled the importation of cocaine and meth, setting the price, and used threats when dealers didn't pay, according to Lapointe.
"They don't care how much you sell or don't sell in the end," he said.
"At the end of the month, you have to pay the rent. If you don't, there's consequences."
Police estimate the drug transactions were valued at about $2.4 million over a four-month period, netting "a quarter of a million in profit for the Hells Angels in New Brunswick."
Raids also targeted Moncton Red Devils
Police laid charges against 32 people on Thursday, including the Blanchette brothers and several alleged members of the Red Devils Motorcycle Club's Moncton chapter, as part of an investigation called Projet Oursin, or Operation Sea Urchin.
The Red Devils are the top support club for the Hells Angels in New Brunswick. According to a presentation last year from Nova Scotia's combined forces special enforcement unit, the Red Devils have been operating chapters in Moncton and Halifax since July 1, 2018.
All of the alleged Red Devils members who were arrested played "key roles" in the network, according to Lapointe, ranging from "sub-managers" of the territory to "working to obtain the cocaine that would be sold."
Lapointe confirmed the Blanchette brothers were among the targets in a series of raids that happened in January, but didn't result in any arrests.
The arrests are the latest move by police to counter an eastern expansion by the Hells Angels, the country's largest and most powerful outlaw motorcycle gang.
The organization dropped six high-ranking members into New Brunswick in 2016 to operate as Nomads, meaning they don't have a formal clubhouse as a traditional chapter would.
Éric Blanchette was a prospect with the New Brunswick Nomads chapter and was due to be promoted in the "upcoming weeks," Lapointe said, while his brother Yanick didn't have formal status with the Hells Angels.
The investigator said the Nomads are made up of members from the Quebec City chapter who migrated because "the territory was used to its full capacity here in Quebec."
With more powerful gangs to the west in Ontario, Lapointe said it made sense to look east to expand.
"We're thinking ultimately they want to control all of the Maritime provinces," Lapointe said.
As the Hells Angels work to establish territory in the Maritimes, the rival Outlaws motorcycle gang are also trying to establish a presence.
The Black Pistons Motorcycle Club, a club affiliated with the Outlaws, has a chapter based in Fredericton.
That has sparked at least five violent clashes between the bitter rivals between October 2016 and May 2018, according to a presentation from the Nova Scotia combined forces unit last year.
A map from that presentation shows a total of four violent incidents in the Fredericton area and a clash in the eastern region of the province.