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The law of crime: when one goes down, another steps in

Jonathan Bacon, one of the notorious Bacon brothers associated with the Red Scorpion gang, is seen reporting to Port Moody Police Station as part of bail conditions. March 19, 2009.

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In the crime world, just as in physics, for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.

Jonathan Bacon, along with his two brothers, took advantage of a police crackdown on his Hells Angels rivals to bring his Red Scorpions gang to the forefront.

But, in turn, his rise to prominence and the threat of a new alliance he was forming with other gang leaders may have sparked the violent reaction on Sunday that led to his death and the wounding of several other people.

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Now as authorities warn of a possible new wave of retaliatory violence in British Columbia, police are taking stock of the challenges they face in tackling organized crime gangs.

They can be a "very challenging threat for law enforcement," said Bob Paulson, the Deputy Commissioner for federal policing at RCMP headquarters in Ottawa, who spent 20 years fighting crime in B.C. "I am not suggesting for a second that we will be able to rid ourselves of organized crime, but our job is to make sure we keep hammering them."

The problem is that when the police hammer one gang, they create a vacuum that other criminals seek to fill.

In B.C., it was an intensive infiltration and investigation against the Hells Angels called E-Pandora, led by Deputy Commissioner Paulson at the time, that put the Hells Angels on the legal defensive, at least for awhile, and gave Mr. Bacon and other rival gangs an opening.

In Winnipeg, a wave of arrests of many Hells Angels gangsters who once ruled the local crime scene opened the door to native gangs and a recent push into the city by the Angels' arch-rivals, the Rock Machine.

In Quebec, the Rock Machine and smaller street gangs have also sought to take advantage of the crumbling of the Hells Angels and the Mafia, battered by successful prosecutions and internal assassinations.

"For sure other gangs will step in to take advantage of that weakness – that has never changed," said Jean-Pierre Lévesque, who served with Canada's Criminal Intelligence Service during the height of the Quebec biker wars. "But we have no choice but to go after the cream of the crop."

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To keep his position as the cream of the crop and fend off rivals, Mr. Bacon had recently formed an unusual "business alliance" called the Wolf Pack with two of his ostensible rivals – Hells Angel Larry Amero, who was wounded in Sunday's drive-by shooting, and a leader from the Independent Soldier gang.

Police are now investigating if the attack on Sunday could have come from one of British Columbia's other gangs that felt threatened by the alliance or its members – one more lethal, inevitable reaction.

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