Hells Angels support club known as the Jesters has opened a new clubhouse in the 10600-block of Scott Road in Surrey, and another group with links to the Angels -- the Shadow motorcycle club -- took over a Whalley clubhouse off King George Highway earlier this year that had been run briefly by the Outcasts puppet club. Police have seen other biker clubs started in recent months in Ashcroft, Fort St. John, Campbell River and 100 Mile House, most of whom have made appearances at events with the Hells Angels.
"This is also a phenomenon we are seeing across Canada," Insp. Gary Shinkaruk, of the RCMP's Outlaw Motorcycle Gang unit, said Wednesday. "There are more of these support puppet clubs springing up right everywhere, even in the Maritimes."Police say puppet clubs are being used as a survival tool by the Hells Angels after a series of recent convictions of high-profile members and the growth of violent rival mid-level drug gangs such as the United Nations and Red Scorpions. The puppet gangs -- so-called because the Hells Angels are thought to pull their strings -- create a much larger network that HA members can use criminally, while insulating themselves from law enforcement. Just this summer, as the Haney chapter of the Hells Angels celebrated its anniversary, police saw bikers wearing a three-piece patch for the fledgling "Devil's Army" motorcycle club. Shinkaruk said the Devil's Army is headed by long-time Hells Angel associate Ricky Alexander, 54.The patch shows the puppet club as operating out of Campbell River, although Alexander is a Lower Mainland resident who owns an acreage in Mission and condos in Burnaby and Pitt Meadows. "They came out of the Haney (Hells Angels) clubhouse sporting those colours. That certainly indicates they have the approval," Shinkaruk said. "It is certainly my belief that they are going to be subservient to Haney and at their beck and call." He said the Haney chapter has "had internal strife and difficulty with the Red Scorpions," two reasons why they might want to expand their circle of friends.The new Devil's Army head visited the RCMP in Campbell River to tell them the group was not criminal, Shinkaruk said. Alexander was convicted in April of 2001 of possession of a prohibited firearm and ammunition after being stopped in Vancouver with what police believed was a hit list in the glove box of his rental car and a loaded pink handgun in his waistband. The first name on the hand-written list was "John Suspect" who Vancouver police said was a person of interest in the murder a month earlier of full-patch Angel Donald Roming. Also on the list were three of John Suspect's associates, including a man later gunned down at a Vancouver gas station.
Rick Ciarniello, spokesman for the Hells Angels, denied Wednesday that his club has any puppet or support groups. "We don't have any of those," he said. "I have nothing to say about any of that. It has nothing to do with us." Asked about the Devils' Army being present at the Haney party this summer, Ciarniello said: "Everybody who comes to our event doesn't necessarily have anything to do with us."
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