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This article was published 4/7/2011 (3190 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
Justice officials have publicly admitted for the first time what has become obvious to many citizens — tensions are high on Winnipeg's biker front.
"There's a gang war going on," Crown attorney Mike Desautels told provincial court Associate Chief Judge Mary Kate Harvie on Monday. "It has reached a fever pitch."
Desautels made his candid comments during a bail hearing for a high-ranking member of the Rock Machine. He also shed new light on a wave of recent shootings in Winnipeg.
Police officers arrested Jean Paul Beaumont late last week after conducting video surveillance of his home through a camera they had secretly installed in early May, court was told. Beaumont, the sergeant-at-arms of the Rock Machine, has a long criminal record and has been charged with repeatedly breaching conditions of his previous bail and probation, including a curfew and driving prohibition.
The hidden camera allegedly caught Beaumont leaving his home and driving away in a vehicle on several occasions.
The Crown is fighting to keep Beaumont in custody, citing the ongoing battle between the Rock Machine and their rivals, the Redlined Support Crew.
Desautels filed a detailed report on the city's gang situation, authored by members of the police organized crime unit, to boost his argument that public safety is at stake. He told court police have been closely monitoring Beaumont, along with other gang members, because of the ongoing tensions in the biker world.
Beaumont's bail hearing was adjourned until today to allow the judge to read the report.
There was no publication ban on the proceedings.
The Hells Angels created the Redlined Support Crew last year to stand up to other criminal networks that might muscle in on their former drug turf after many of their members were arrested and jailed following a trio of recent undercover police operations. At the top of that list was the Rock Machine, which waged war with the Hells Angels in Quebec during the 1990s but has never had much of a presence in Manitoba until recently.
Multiple sources have told the Free Press the Rock Machine has slowly gained power in Manitoba, with some former Hells Angels associates even joining their ranks in recent months. Just recently, a founding member of the "Game Tight Soldiers" gang in British Columbia moved to Winnipeg and joined the Rock Machine ranks, according to a source.
Desautels told court Monday how Joseph Strachan, the Rock Machine's president, had his Winnipeg home shot up last week. A St. Vital-area home belonging to Strachan's parents was then hit with gunfire and Molotov cocktails the following night. There were no injuries in either incident, and no arrests have been made.
Desautels said a member of the Redlined gang was also targeted last week when a "flare" was shot through the window of his home.
Police are also investigating whether two other recent shootings are linked to the ongoing hostilities. A 14-year-old boy was wounded early Monday morning after a townhouse on Taft Crescent in Lord Roberts was sprayed with gunfire. Police admitted the boy is lucky to be alive and may have been an innocent bystander. There were nine people inside the residence at the time, including a baby. No arrests have been made. Members of the organized crime unit are continuing to investigate.
Sources told the Free Press Monday there may be other recent incidents that either haven't been reported to police or haven't been released to the public.
Last November, a former high-ranging associate of the Hells Angels was shot "execution-style" inside his own home.
No arrests have been made in the slaying of Daniel Kachkan, which was believed to have been connected to Kachkan's alleged role in a previous homicide. However, police distributed an internal memo around the time of the killing, warning members of the Rock Machine motorcycle gang are believed to be armed and may be planning attacks against those affiliated with the Hells Angels.
Mike McIntyre grew up wanting to be a professional wrestler. But when that dream fizzled, he put all his brawn into becoming a professional writer.