Pubdate: Tue, 05 Feb 2008
Source: Vancouver Sun (CN BC)
Copyright: 2008 The Vancouver Sun
Author: Neal Hall


Crown Alleges Hells Angels Are A Criminal Organization

A key test of Canada's anti-gang law -- alleging that the Hells 
Angels are a criminal organization -- has been proceeding for months 
at the Vancouver Law Courts with no publicity.

That's because the trial judge, B.C. Supreme Court Justice Anne 
MacKenzie, initially imposed a sweeping publication ban on the trial.

The ban was to protect the fair trial rights of a number of 
co-accused, including other Hells Angels members facing separate trials.

The ban was partially lifted recently after the judge heard an 
application by media lawyer Dan Burnett, representing The Vancouver 
Sun and two other media outlets. A further media hearing is set for Feb. 22.

One of the men on trial is David Francis Giles, 58, a full-patch 
member of the Hells Angels East End chapter, who is accused of 
possessing cocaine for the purpose of trafficking "for the benefit 
of, at the direction of, or in association with a criminal 
organization, to wit: the East End chapter of the Hells Angels."

The case stems from a two-year, $10-million police investigation that 
resulted in charges against 18 men, including six Hells Angels, in July 2005.

It was the largest police probe in B.C. to target the East End 
chapter of the Hells Angels, long considered to be the wealthiest and 
most sophisticated biker gang in the province.

The central issue at trial is whether the East End chapter is a 
criminal organization, which was alleged in an indictment filed July 
11, 2005 by Canada's deputy attorney-general.

If the Crown succeeds in its criminal-organization prosecution, it 
could put the assets of all East End chapter members -- real estate 
holdings, cars and motorcycles -- at risk of seizure under B.C.'s 
Civil Forfeiture Act.

It could also make it easier to seize property following future Hells 
Angels and other trials, although the criminal-organization case 
would have to be made each time.

Last November, a heavily armed police emergency response team seized 
the Nanaimo Hells Angels clubhouse and its contents, including four 
motorcycles, as part of a provincial-government crackdown on organized crime.

Also on trial are alleged Hells Angels associates David Roger Revell, 
43, and Richard Andrew Rempel, 24, who are accused of cocaine 
trafficking and possessing cocaine for the purpose of trafficking in 
association with a criminal organization.

To prove its case, the Crown called two police experts on the Hells 
Angels -- a publication ban on their evidence remains in place -- and 
four members of the East End chapter of the Hells Angels to testify.

Three of the bikers refused to testify. They have been cited for 
contempt of court and face possible jail time at a contempt hearing on March 7.

The media cannot reveal their names because they are also facing 
criminal charges in a series of separate trials that are scheduled to 
start later this year.

The last trial witness in the case testified Monday -- that evidence 
is also banned -- and the Crown begins three days of final arguments 
Wednesday, followed by defence arguments next week.

In their investigation, code-named Project Epandora, police used a 
nightclub bouncer to infiltrate the motorcycle club.

The man, Michael Plante, applied to become a Hells Angels member and 
was accepted "in the program" as an official friend of the club.

Plante, who was promised $1 million by police, testified at an 
earlier trial that he was given keys to the East End chapter's 
clubhouse and carried out illegal activity on behalf of Hells Angels 
members. Plante now lives under a new name but is not in witness 
protection. When he surfaced in 2006, he was 30. He has been paid 
half his fee -- $500,000 -- and will get the other half after he 
finishes testifying in various trials.

Project Epandora was a joint-forces organized-crime investigation 
involving the Combined Forces Special Enforcement Unit of B.C. and 
the Vancouver police department, with assistance from the RCMP and 
other municipal police.

Police carried out 22 separate searches for methamphetamine 
laboratories, cocaine, marijuana, firearms, prohibited weapons, and 
explosives. Police also raided the Hells Angels East End chapter's 
clubhouses in Vancouver and Kelowna.

The charges alleged in the indictments include methamphetamine 
production and distribution, cocaine trafficking, weapons offences, 
explosives offences, assaults, extortions and possession of proceeds of crime.

In total, police seized more than 20 kilograms each of 
methamphetamine and cocaine; more than 70 kilograms of marijuana; 
restricted and prohibited weapons, including five handguns and fully 
automatic weapons with silencers; 11 sticks of dynamite with 
detonation cord and blasting caps; four grenades and ammunition.
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