Welcome to my Crime and Justice blog! I am a 19 year old criminal justice student at the University of Winnipeg. I advocate for prisoners' rights, human rights, equality and criminal justice/prison system reforms.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Hells Angel's clubhouse raided and seized

It looks like it's the end of the road for a haven for Hells Angels after the clubhouse on a serene stretch of Scotia Street was raided.
Manitoba Justice officials, with the support of Winnipeg police, moved in Thursday morning to take control of the well-known biker hangout after the province obtained a court order allowing the property to be seized.
Manitoba Justice filed an interim court order, which triggered the raid. Early in the day police had blocked off the entire street, located behind the Kildonan Presbyterian Cemetery. Later, only the property itself was off-limits.
The house has allegedly been used as a site to plan and carry out criminal activity such as money laundering. That makes it liable for forfeiture under the Criminal Property Forfeiture Act.
No arrests were made related to the seizure, said Gord Schumacher, director of the province's criminal property forfeiture unit.
"We go after property, not people," he said.
"It pretty much looks like a clubhouse. It's a bar, basically," said Schumacher, describing the inside of the house, which he said had a "decent layout."
"It's a place where the Hells Angels hang their hats."
A source said the two associates of the biker gang in the clubhouse at the time of the raid were told to leave.

Besides the clubhouse, police seized two motorcycles and four vehicles on the property, plus all contents of the house such as furniture. However, most Hells Angels-related paraphernalia was already gone, seized in December during Project Divide, a major police gang operation, and two previous projects as well.
Schumacher said the property owner, Leonard Beauchemin, has 40 days to file a statement of defence to refute the province's allegations.
Beauchemin lives in Ontario. He is not a full-patch Hells Angels member, Schumacher said.
The legal trigger for Thursday's raid allows for proceeds from unlawful acts and property used in an unlawful acts to be forfeited to the government. The property at 2679 Scotia St., which contains a large one-storey building set far back into the well-kept yard, is at the end of the quiet, tree-lined street, flanked by a clearing to the north and the Red River to the east.
The Hells Angels do not own the Scotia Street property, said Winnipeg defence lawyer Jay Prober.
Prober said he is representing a client involved with the seizure though he could not specify who. He has put calls in to Manitoba Justice officials regarding the action.
"We'll have to see whether it's an illegal or a legal seizure," said Prober, who is trying to retrieve items of clothing belonging to his client he said were taken in the raid.
Neighbours, who did not wish to be identified, said they are relieved about the raid but doubt it will be the end of the ordeal. One neighbour said property values on the street have fallen as much as 20 per cent because of the biker gang clubhouse.

Manitoba Justice officials and Winnipeg police seized the Hells Angels Winnipeg clubhouse Thursday.
The property, located at 2679 Scotia St., has been seized under the provincial Criminal Property Forfeiture Act, a civil law that allows property used in unlawful acts to be seized by the government.
The law is often used to seize houses that served as marijuana grow operations, but in a statement released Thursday, Manitoba Justice said it alleges the Scotia Street clubhouse was being used by the biker gang "as a place to plan and carry out criminal activity."
The allegations have not been proven in court, but the clubhouse was seized Thursday under an interim court order.

The Manitoba government has temporarily seized a Hells Angels clubhouse in Winnipeg and is seeking court permission to take it over permanently.
Manitoba Justice has filed a statement of claim in the Court of Queen's Bench for the forfeiture of the property and its contents at 2679 Scotia St. in the city's Rivergrove area.
Justice Department spokesman Gordon Schumacher said the property has been used as a place to plan and carry out criminal activity.
"There are a number of offences that we are alleging took place here, including money laundering, breaches of the Liquor Control Act, proceeds of crime, amongst others. And it's based on those charges that were here today."
Police said the Scotia Street home has been a Hells Angels Clubhouse for just over a decade.
An interim order has allowed the province to seize the property immediately, according to a news release issued by the province.
The claim alleges the property was used as a place to plan and carry out criminal activity. That makes it subject to forfeiture under Manitoba's Criminal Property Forfeiture Act.
According to the legislation, proceeds from unlawful acts and property used in an unlawful act may be forfeited to the government by order of the court. Along with real estate, items such as cash and vehicles can also be forfeited.
Proceeds from the sale of forfeited property are placed in a fund to support activities such as:
  • Compensating victims of the unlawful activity.
  • Remedying the effects of the unlawful activity.
  • Promoting safer communities by funding programs that reduce or prevent crime or enhance the practices and training of law enforcement agencies.
  • Covering the costs of the court application and seizing, managing and selling property ordered forfeited by a court.
Property ordered forfeited by a court can be sold, donated or destroyed.
The province hasn't indicated what it plans to do in this case.
A total of 35 statements of claim have been filed since the legislation was enacted in 2004.

Seized clubhouse PR
Taking away the clubhouse of the Hells Angels’ Manitoba chapter — at least temporarily — isn’t going to eliminate the outlaw motorcycle gang’s presence, a street source says.
Hells Angels members won’t have an official hangout if they lose the clubhouse but it won’t put an end to the chapter, the source said.
“It’s good PR for the police but the band will still march on even without a place to chill,” the source said.
A Hells Angels clubhouse in Oshawa, Ont., was seized by that province’s government and demolished in March. Similar seizures have occurred in other Canadian cities.
The Manitoba government’s move to take control of the biker club’s lair is the latest chapter in the back-and-forth saga between organized crime and law enforcement in Manitoba.
Lately, law enforcement seems to be coming out on top against Hells Angels members and associates.
Police have had tremendous success in finding trusted people to flip and become paid informants to infiltrate the Hells Angels or Zig Zag Crew, its so-called street crew.
Many Hells Angels members and associates are serving lengthy prison sentences or are in custody awaiting the resolution of charges.
The number of Manitoba Hells Angels members on the street is unclear.
Three long-term undercover projects — Defence, Drill and Divide — by the Manitoba integrated organized crime task force resulted in charges against more than 60 people between 2006 and 2010. The clubhouse was raided each time.
Manitoba Justice officials and Winnipeg Police Service officers moved in and temporarily seized the clubhouse at 2679 Scotia St. on Thursday under the provincial Criminal Property Forfeiture Act, a civil law that allows property used in unlawful acts to be seized by the government.
In court documents the government alleges the clubhouse was being used “as a place to plan and carry out criminal activity.”
The province has started legal proceedings to take over the secluded property. The property’s legal owner, Leonard Beauchemin, has 40 days to file a statement of defence.

Just because the house was raided and seized, does not mean the Hells Angels will disappear. They will find another house where they can plan their criminal activities.  This is not the end of the Hells Angels.

The clubhouse was ALLEGEDLY used to plan and carry out criminal activities. Shouldn't the state have to PROVE the property was used as a place to plan and carry out criminal activity, instead of simply "allege"? There should be a court decision prior to a seizure. This is a clear invasion of civil liberties. Plus, it has not been proven that ALL the individuals who lived in the house were involved in this so-called planning, yet all of their items are being seized! 

I have trouble with the logic here.

The house is owned by some guy that lives in Ontario.

I'm guessing that he rented the house out.

Now he has 40 days to file a statement of defence??? For what??? Charging too much rent??

To me, this is no different if I rent a property that I own to a person or persons and they do something illegal inside that house....does that mean I forfeit my house??? Makes no sense as the landlord has very little control over what is done behind the closed doors of his rented property. He/she cannot just walk in unannounced to look at what is happening at any given time. They have to give notice to the tenant.

The article states that the house has a nice layout and the yard is well kept. If I'm the landlord I would think of this as a model tenant. Rent is paid, yard is maintained.

I dunno...

I wonder if the government would have tried this if the house the Hells Angels rented was some $20,000 hovel on Magnus and not maintained....I think not. 

Does this mean that if any level of government passes a law that is clearly an invasion of Canadian civil liberties (found to be criminal) their offices can be seized and sold? haha.

Are people losing their homes they unknowingly rent to people who turn around and used them for grow operations? did the HA actively plan criminal activity from the house or were they somewhere else? How does one prove that?

Some other questions.

I see many (including the press) state that the Hells Angels is a criminal organization and that they are all committing crimes. This is derived from the theory that some of the Hells Angels are in prison for crimes. Therefore all of them are active in that endeavour.

Okay. Based on that theory.

[Take] Winnipeg Police Service officers ... charged or convicted of serious crimes. .

The question I have is this. Did they plan those crimes in their homes and cars? Did the government seize their "stuff". Based on the logic for the seizure of the HA clubhouse the law should have taken the stuff of these officers. Also, because they were WPS officers does that mean that all WPS officers are criminals?

My point being that just because one person from a group of friends or co-workers commits a crime does not mean that everyone else is guilty too.

I know...people will not like what I say here. However, I ask these questions in an effort to get people thinking. If we let the government tread on the rights of one group, what group is next?

Freedom is important...many good people fought and died for us to have it. [edited]

"The claim alleges the property was used as a place to plan and carry out criminal activity. That makes it subject to forfeiture under Manitoba's Criminal Property Forfeiture Act."

Shouldnt the state have to prove the property was used as a place to plan and carry out criminal activity rather than just 'allege'?

I am no fan of HA, but there should be a court decsion prior to seizure?

"The claim alleges the property was used as a place to plan and carry out criminal activity. That makes it subject to forfeiture under Manitoba's Criminal Property Forfeiture Act."

With the same rationale , most political offices , lawyers offices ,police stations and churches should be seized under this act as well.

This legislation is awful. They don't have to prove anything to take your property, just have a suspicion and your house and car are seized. How does this stuff stand up against the charter ?

They will just move to a new place.

are we living in Canada, the Governments can just walk in and take what they want under these conditions?....I am not a Hell's Angel fan by any means but the way this is happening doesn't seem right...

The Crown alleges that criiminal activity were carried out here so the property is to be forfeited?

There, but for the Grace of God , go you or I.

Nothing proven, but alleged.

Seriously, what kind of legislation is this?! Complete invasion of civil liberties, if the government is under no obligation to prove anything before seizing property! They just have to "allege" something! How does that stand up against the Charter? That is wrong. Nothing has been proven, merely alleged. 

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