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B.C. government attempts to seize Hells Angels clubhouses

An RCMP officer stops Alberta members of the Hells Angels in 2008. The White Rock chapter was hosting the 25th anniversary party for the Vancouver, Nanaimo and White Rock branches of the group.

Darryl Dyck/THE CANADIAN PRESS

The British Columbia government is asking the court to turn over two Hells Angels clubhouses to the Crown, alleging the buildings are used by the group to orchestrate killings and profit from the illegal drug trade.

The province's director of civil forfeiture has filed a claim with the B.C. Supreme Court asking for an order that Hells Angels clubhouses in the east side of Vancouver and in Kelowna be seized.

"One of the main purposes of the HAMC (Hells Angels Motorcycle Club) and/or portions of its membership in Canada ... is the facilitation or commission of serious offences," says the notice of claim, filed Nov. 19.

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"[The clubhouses] have been used to engage in unlawful activities."

The notice alleges the Hells Angels group and its members are involved in the production and trafficking of drugs, such as marijuana, cocaine and methamphetamine; assaults; manslaughters or murders; extortion; and the possession of restricted firearms.

The document says the clubhouses, which have each been modified to evade the scrutiny of police, are funded by the proceeds of crime and are, in turn, used by Hells Angels members to plan their criminal activities.

The clubhouses also serve as symbols of the Hells Angels in their respective communities, both for members and for rival criminal groups, the notice says.

The allegations have not been proven in court.

The notice names 21 Hells Angels members as defendants in Vancouver and Kelowna, several of whom already have convictions or charges related to drug and guns.

They include Jean Violette and John Punko, who were among a group of Hells Angels members convicted in connection with a high-profile raid in the east Vancouver clubhouse in 2005. The raid followed an undercover operation that saw an informant successfully infiltrate the group for the RCMP.

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The RCMP raided the Kelowna clubhouse this past August, seizing guns and cash. Eight people were charged, including Brian Montgomery Oldham and David Francis Giles, who are both listed in the civil forfeiture notice.

Also listed on the notice is Norman Robert Cocks and Robert Leonard Thomas, who are among a group of Hells Angels associates currently charged with second-degree murder in the fatal beating of 51-year-old Dain Phillips. Police have said Mr. Phillips was attempting to protect his sons when he was beaten to death with a baseball bat in June of last year. The case has not yet been heard.

In 2007, the director of civil forfeiture launched a claim targeting a Hells Angels clubhouse in Nanaimo, making the same allegations of drug trafficking and murders, but it has yet to be resolved.

That case has bounced between the B.C. Supreme Court and the B.C. Court of Appeal after a series of procedural applications from both sides. The most recent decision in the case, last year, saw the court order the RCMP to disclose documents related to its investigation of the Hells Angels.

B.C. has had civil forfeiture legislation since 2006. In the 2011-2012 fiscal year, the province seized nearly $11-million in assets.

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