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turf war between the Rock Machine and the Hells Angels-affiliated Redlined Support Crew is ramping up

Thursday, 14 July 2011

turf war between the Rock Machine and the Hells Angels-affiliated Redlined Support Crew is ramping up, police said Wednesday following yet another firebombing in the city.

The early morning firebombing at a tattoo parlour was the eighth in the city believed to be linked to the feud between rival biker gangs, police said.

A charred front door and shattered glass were visible outside 187 Ink, which was targeted after 4 a.m. Wednesday. Officers quickly arrested two men, although the pair had yet to be formally charged.

The owner of the tattoo shop maintains his business was wrongly targeted, though he acknowledges clients may include gang members.

"We tattoo anyone. If gang members come in here, if police come in here, news reporters come in here, we'll tattoo them. Their money is as good as anyone else's," said Wayne Nuytten.

The first sign of violence between the rival biker gangs was on June 14, when a business was firebombed, police revealed Wednesday in a list provided to media of incidents linked to the biker battle. The list cited four shootings, including that of a 14-year-old boy, seven firebombings -- police clarified there were actually eight -- and also mentioned the discovery of a gun June 29.

After that initial firebombing, things were relatively quiet for another week until a flare gun was shot into an Elmwood home linked to a Redlined member. Since then, other than a few days over the July long weekend, the incidents have continued.

"I think things have escalated," Winnipeg Police Service spokesman Const. Jason Michalyshen said. "We have a problem on our hands here. Quite simply, we're acknowledging that."

Some of the incidents were not reported to police, which is one of the reasons the public is hearing about some of the cases much after the fact, police said. In other instances, Michalyshen said police might have held back details for investigative reasons.

In an effort to quell the violence, last week police announced a crackdown on gang members and associates. On Wednesday, police said 15 people have been arrested so far for breaching court conditions, drug possession and outstanding warrants.

Extra officers have been assigned to the gang unit to help deal with the situation, said Mayor Sam Katz, who pointed to the speedy arrests of two suspects in the Osborne Village firebombing to suggest the clampdown is working.

"When you put the resources there, it works," he said. "The gangs are already complaining about the WPS being in their faces."

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A person charged with a crime is presumed innocent until proven guilty

A person charged with a crime is presumed innocent until proven guilty

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