By Jason Warick, The Saskatchewan News Network (Saskatoon, Canada)
The Hells Angels are behind the crystal meth drug business in Saskatoon, sources say
The Hells Angels are using street gangs to deal illegal drugs such as "crystal meth," a highly addictive stimulant popping up everywhere on the streets of Saskatoon, say police.
"There is a tonne of crystal meth in town here. It's appeared in huge quantities over the past year," Saskatoon Police Services Sgt. Gavin Morgan told the Saskatchewan News Network.
"We do have intelligence that there are connections in the drug trade between the Hells Angels and the Native street gangs."
Crystal meth, otherwise known as methamphetamine or speed, is a powerful stimulant that affects the central nervous system.
The high comes quickly but also wears off quickly, leaving the user with a tremendous desire for more.
Long-term problems can include severe weight loss, strokes and respiratory problems.
The connection was angrily denied by a member of the Angels, who spoke on condition of anonymity.
In a brief interview, he said there's no connection between what he called his "club" and the street gangs.
He said the Angels are simply a motorcycle club and are not involved in any illegal activity, including the drug trade.
None of the heads of the province's largest street gang, the Indian Posse, would agree to be questioned about the alleged link between them and the Angels. One of the Indian Posse's Saskatchewan "chiefs" initially agreed to an interview but changed his mind two days later.
Morgan and others say there are demonstrable links between the two gangs.
"If the Hells Angels can find some group to do their dirty work, they'll do it. There are a lot of alliances being made," Morgan said.
"The Hells Angels insulate themselves well."
Crystal meth has traditionally been dealt by biker gangs, Morgan said.
The biker gangs would bring it up from the United States and sell it in Saskatoon, he said.
But the amount of crystal meth dealt in Saskatoon has exploded over the past year, he said.
There are indications the Angels have brokered deals with members of street gangs to sell crystal meth for them.
The Saskatoon Police Service's organized crime unit is currently investigating the alleged link, Morgan said.
Making a case could prove difficult, as witnesses are often too afraid to come forward when gangs are involved, Morgan said.
One community worker who has researched the gang issue extensively said some street gang members are used as "foot soldiers" by the Angels.
The gangs provide the Angels with a large labour force eager to make money, the worker said. Police have identified more than 200 members in Saskatoon alone.
She also spoke on condition of anonymity, fearing her facility could become a target.
According to a 21-year-old recovering addict, the Angels are "the big dog on the block" in Saskatoon's drug trade.
He said one of his friends is a drug dealer and member of a street gang.
That friend is often supplied by a member of the Angels.
"For anybody to believe the Hells Angels are legit is a lie. They just let the Native gangs deal it," said the man, now in a Saskatoon treatment facility.
He bought crystal meth as recently as October in an area of Saskatoon where several Hells Angel members live.
The same thing appears to be happening in other Canadian cities. Staff Sgt. Scott Mills of the Ontario Biker Enforcement Unit said the Angels are using "puppet" clubs and gangs in Toronto, Winnipeg and other cities to deal drugs and carry out other crimes.
"The Hells Angels are learning from previous prosecutions and are insulating themselves. They have someone else doing the hands-on criminal activity," he said.
The Biker Enforcement Unit was formed in 2000, and is made up of more than 100 federal, provincial, and local Ontario police officers.
Mills said crystal meth has been "a trademark commodity of the outlaw motorcycle gang" since the 1970s, and wasn't surprised to hear about the situation in Saskatoon.
The Angels have been declared a criminal organization in Quebec, and the Saskatoon chapter is part of the same club, Mills said.
"The Hells Angels in Saskatoon, in my opinion, are the same as the Hells Angels in Quebec or Ontario," he said.
Vaughn Collins, deputy commissioner of the Ontario Provincial Police, agreed.
"We've had concerns for some times with street gangs connected to outlaw motorcycle gangs in a variety of ways. I think that's an issue across the country," Collins said.
Regina also has a significant presence of Hells Angels and street gangs.
But there's no indication the two groups are selling drugs together in that city, said Regina Police Service Sgt. Bill Dombowsky.