Pubdate: May 11, 1998
Source: London Free Press (Canada)
Author: Greg Van Moorsel -- Free Press Reporter


Ontario's top cops will be in London today to show off the new heat they're
packing in the war against outlaw biker gangs.

The city will play host to the formal launch of a bulked-up police task
force aimed at routing the bikers.

The recent Ontario budget promised funding to enlarge an existing OPP
anti-biker squad and link it closely with 16 municipal forces and the RCMP.

London, Toronto and Ottawa-Carleton police are among those included in the
alliance, expected to cost $3.4 million in its first year and $2.7 million
a year to operate after that.

The launch here is a bow to London police Chief Julian Fantino, who pushed
for the project.

With the slaying of two bikers in London last month, including the head of
the London chapter of the Outlaws, Fantino said he may take Solicitor
General Jim Flaherty, one of the officials here today, past a gang
clubhouse if he wants a first-hand look.


Fantino, who heads a national police strategy to deal with biker gangs and
crime, said Ottawa could help by tightening criminal laws and sending more
money seized from the proceeds of crime to the provinces, which could
direct it to front-line enforcement agencies.

"We need some significant help to deal with this problem right across the
country and beyond," he said, noting bikers have been linked to dozens of
Quebec killings in recent years and Ontario is seeing more of the fallout.

Bikers, he noted, were implicated in a bomb blast 1 1/2 years ago at
Sudbury police headquarters.

The OPP's anti-biker squad will be boosted to 20 members from seven.


London Mayor Dianne Haskett applauded the move, saying she's especially
concerned about biker gangs trying to "exploit and control," through drugs
and prostitution, young women who work in strip clubs.

Last month's two killings, for which two London brothers are wanted, were
"a wake-up call to the city" that gangs are a problem, Haskett said.

OPP have been directed by the Ontario government to rid the province of
outlaw biker gangs, especially the Hells Angels.

Police say there are about a dozen biker gangs in Ontario with hundreds of
known members.


Biker wars in Quebec, where the Hells Angels dominate, have claimed about
70 lives in recent years, many of the deaths linked to control of the drug

Observers have speculated last month's two fatal shootings in London were a
response to bikers muscling in on local drug turf.

Ontario, with a hot economy and large population, presents a lucrative
market for gang crime, said London South MPP Bob Wood, who sits on the Tory
government's anti-crime commission.

Wood said the expanded task force should give police a better early-warning
and detection system to combat gangs. "What we're really doing is putting
more money into what we've already got," he said.

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