News Item: Drugs and violence common thread
(Category: Biker News)
Posted by MJF
Monday 05 June 2006 - 16:43:05

Calgary Sun

WINNIPEG -- Street gangsters in Winnipeg come in all shapes and sizes -- from Native teens in disadvantaged neighbourhoods to white bikers born and bred in the suburbs.

But despite their differences, two things bind them: Drugs and violence.

Manitoba's gangsters and organized crime members -- last estimated at more than 1,500 -- are lured to the criminal underworld for reasons including a sense of belonging, protection and status.

But it's the money made from selling gang-controlled drugs that keeps them coming.

It's impossible to estimate the money sales of cocaine, meth, marijuana and less common drugs put into pockets of Winnipeg gangsters, though police have said the city's cocaine trade alone is worth more than $5 million a month.

A large portion of that trade can be traced to the city's two biggest outlaw motorcycle clubs: The Hells Angels and the Bandidos.

"I've heard them referred to as motorcycle enthusiasts and certainly they are that and more," Sgt. Rob Harding, a supervisor in the Winnipeg police organized crime unit, told Sun Media last fall.

"Probably, the main part of their business is the drug trade."

In February, Winnipeg Police arrested 13 people with alleged ties to the Hells Angels -- including Manitoba chapter president Ernie Dew -- after an undercover police informant bought more than $400,000 worth of cocaine and meth from the bikers in less than a year.

That headline-grabbing sweep is the kind of bite Mayor Sam Katz wants to take out of organized crime more often, but much of the fight against gangs is coming in smaller measures.

After the provincial government provided the city with $4 million in gaming revenue over two years to recruit an additional 48 cops, Katz and Police Chief Jack Ewatski launched Operation Clean Sweep last November to clamp down on street crime.

Clean Sweep was initially estimated to cost $1.6 million with 45 officers for three months. Katz has pledged it will run indefinitely.

Besides the biker gangs and their puppet clubs, Winnipeg is home to Asian-based, Native-based and African-based crime groups, as well as European-based groups, including the Mafia.

"We've got European connections here. We've got Italian connections here connected to eastern Canada and eastern states, Chicago. There's some of everything," Harding said.

Some of the better-known Winnipeg gangs include Native groups such as the Indian Posse, the Manitoba Warriors and the Native Syndicate.

One of the newest gangs in Winnipeg made national headlines last October when a 17-year-old was killed by a stray bullet allegedly fired as a result of in-fighting between the Mad Cowz and splinter group African Mafia.

This news item is from White Trash Networks
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