The Hells Angels in B.C. are expanding their territory with a new chapter opening in Surrey, the Vancouver Sun has learned.
The new unit of the notorious motorcycle gang has bro-ken away from the White Rock chapter and is calling itself West Point, Sgt. Bill Whalen of the Combined Forces Special Enforcement Unit confirmed Thursday.
The Combined Forces' biker specialists have been gathering intelligence on the development in recent weeks, Whalen said.
"We are aware of it," he said. "It seems to be an internal political thing."
B.C. Hells Angels were seen wearing the new West Point logo on their "flasher," or breast patch, in recent days as they made their way to Saskatoon for a national "Canada Run" rally this weekend, Whalen said.
Right now, West Point appears to have seven members - most of them the younger full-patch bikers that were in the 14-mem-ber White Rock group, one of the oldest chapters in B.C.
The new group is said to be looking for a clubhouse in Surrey where it will hold its weekly "chapel" meetings and have a public presence.
Whalen said the Hells Angels leadership internationally would have approved the new Surrey-based chapter.
"In the organized crime world, you probably won't find a more structured and rule-oriented group than the Hells Angels," he said.
"You can't just decide, 'Hey, I am going to form my own chapter and get my patches printed.' That's not a go. The indication from this - that a split has occurred and that patches are being worn - is that some-where somebody has authorized this. So it is very structured in that sense."
The Combined Forces' Outlaw Motorcycle Gang Unit is monitoring the situation, Whalen said.
Surrey Mayor Dianne Watts said she has heard "rumblings" about the new Hells Angels chapter in her city, but has not yet sat down to discuss it with police.
"We have a crime-reduction strategy in place and if there is criminal activity that is being undertaken, we will put the appropriate strategies in place to deal with it," Watts said Thursday.
She said if and when the gang secures a clubhouse in Surrey, city rules and regulations would be in force.
"We haven't had any formal application come forward," she said. "We look at it right across the board - if there are issues concerning criminal activity and if there are issues concerning licensing."
The White Rock chapter, which has its clubhouse on a Langley acreage, has been in turmoil in recent months.
High-profile member Larry Amero, who was seriously wounded last August in a Kelowna shooting, was charged in Montreal last week with impaired driving and hit and run. He allegedly crashed into a car while driving a large sport utility vehicle, injuring a young woman, and then fled the scene.
In May, the house of full-patch White Rock member Brent Milne was raided by Abbotsford police, who found a kilogram of cocaine. Mike Robatzek, who was the Sergeant at Arms in the White Rock chapter, was recently thrown out of the club.
And Trevor Jones, the twin of White Rock member Randy Jones, was indicted in the U.S. in a massive cross-border drug-smuggling operation that American prosecutors allege was done for the benefit of the White Rock chapter.
The Hells Angels did not respond to an emailed interview request about its expansion.
West Point is the ninth Hells Angels chapter to form in B.C. since the White Rock, Vancouver and Nanaimo chapters opened on July 23, 1983.
The biker gang has expanded to include East End, Kelowna, Mission, Haney and the Nomads, based out of Burnaby.
Whalen, of the Combined Forces, said there are usually 10 to 15 members per chapter, although the overall membership in B.C. has fallen slightly over the past decade.
Across Canada, there are 29 active Hells Angels chapters and six "frozen" ones, Det.-Sgt. Len Isnor of the Ontario Provincial Police biker enforcement unit said Thursday.
"What I mean by frozen is they have fallen below the allowable number of six members. They have to have at least six members to have a chapter. Because of all the arrests in Quebec and the clampdown in Ontario, six chapters have reached that frozen status," said Isnor, an expert on biker gangs in Canada.
Isnor, who is in Saskatoon monitoring the Hells Angels gathering, said the new West Point chapter is expected to be represented among the 300 bikers there for the week-end. About 100 riders were travelling from B.C. Isnor said new Angels chapters can open in one of two ways: A group of probationary members can be given conditional status for a year before being confirmed as Hells Angels, or - as in the White Rock case - "they can move six members from another chapter."
"Bikers are very territorial and they want to extend their territory, and the best way of showing that that territory is theirs is by having that flag-ship - the clubhouse - in that area," Isnor said.
A physical presence in a new community allows them to extend both their legitimate and illegitimate business, he said.
- Kim Bolan is with the Vancouver Sun