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Winnipeg police continued their assault on the Hells Angels by stripping another member of his gang status

Wednesday, 21 March 2012


 Winnipeg police continued their assault on the Hells Angels by stripping another member of his gang status and seizing the jailed president's Harley-Davidson motorcycle from the World of Wheels trade show. The Free Press has uncovered details on both events, the fallout from last week's Project Flatlined, which resulted in the arrests of 11 prominent Hells Angels members and associates. Sources say members of the organized crime unit went to the Winnipeg Convention Centre Friday night and seized a souped-up motorcycle that was on display. The bike belongs to Dale Sweeney, the current head of the Manitoba Hells chapter who was arrested earlier in the day at his lavish home in the Waverley West development. "Apparently there was quite a commotion there when they seized it from World of Wheels," a source said. Friends of Sweeney were with the Harley, which had the Hells Angels Motorcycle Club logo on the side of it, when it was seized. Police had seized two vehicles belonging to Sweeney during his arrest, and sources say they will now focus on his upscale home under the Criminal Property Forfeiture Act, which allows authorities to take possession of the proceeds of crime. "We'll take that (house) if and when he's convicted," said a justice source. The next phase of the police blitz occurred in a Winnipeg courtroom on Monday afternoon. Carmine Puteri, 39, a member of the Hells Angels, agreed to step away from the gang in order to gain his release from custody. Puteri was among those arrested last Friday but was not actually facing criminal charges. Instead, police and justice officials obtained a rarely used peace bond against him under Section 810 of the Criminal Code. In court documents, police state Puteri was likely to "commit a criminal offence for the benefit of a criminal organization." Puteri agreed this was the case and chose not to contest the court order, which is traditionally used by officials against high-risk sex offenders or convicted killers who have served every day of an existing sentence and are about to re-enter the community. A peace bond was used against notorious killer Karla Homolka. Sources say this is one of the first times Manitoba justice officials have used the tool to fight organized crime. Police will monitor Puteri and he has agreed to 14 separate conditions, including a midnight curfew and an order to not possess any gang clothing or paraphernalia. Puteri has also agreed to have no contact with any Hells Angels member or associate in the province -- a list of people that ran three typed pages in court and includes more than 50 names. Any breaches of the conditions would result in a stand-alone criminal offence and would be grounds for immediate arrest. Police have also obtained the same peace bond against Sweeney's brother, Rod. He has not decided yet whether to fight the application or consent to it, and remains in custody. Sweeney and the other eight accused who were arrested last week are facing a litany of charges, including trafficking, proceeds of crime, money laundering and participating in a criminal organization. All remain behind bars and further arrests are expected. More than 150 Winnipeg police officers were involved in last week's raids, which puts the immediate status of the Hells Angels in Manitoba in jeopardy. Organized crime Insp. Rick Guyader said there are only four local members of the Hells Angels who were not arrested -- putting them in violation of the biker gang's charter, which requires at least seven active members. Operation Flatlined is the fourth major bust of the Manitoba Hells Angels since 2006. Unlike those previous projects, police did not use a paid informant in Flatlined. Sources told the Free Press the undercover probe relied on court-ordered wiretaps that allowed police to gain insight and evidence. The Flatlined code name is a reference to the Redlined Support Crew, a puppet club of the Hells Angels. The Hells Angels created the Redlined gang in 2010 to stand up to other criminal networks that might muscle in on their former drug turf after many of their members were arrested and jailed following the other police stings. At the top of the list of rival gangs was the Rock Machine, which waged war with the Hells Angels in Quebec during the 1990s but hasn't had much of a presence in Manitoba until recently. Tensions escalated last summer, with more than a dozen reported incidents, including drive-by shootings and firebombings between Redlined and Rock Machine members, which prompted police to canvass neighbourhoods where well-known bike gang members lived, to warn residents an active gang war was underway.


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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