|Hells Angels - Members of the Motorcycle Club the Hells Angels walk down King St. West in Toronto Saturday, January 12, 2002. (QMI Agency File Photo)
VANCOUVER - The B.C. government wants to seize Hells Angels’ clubhouses in Vancouver and Kelowna after more than 100 suspects, many of whom police said have links to the motorcycle club, were arrested in a countrywide drug bust earlier this month.
The provincial civil forfeiture office filed the notice Monday in B.C. Supreme Court against 21 “owners and all others interested” in the two properties.
The clubhouse in Vancouver is located near East Georgia and Kootenay streets, while the one in Kelowna is next to Sutherland Park on Ellis Street.
Civil forfeiture is a process the government can use to seize criminal proceeds and turn the funds into anti-crime grants for which organizations can apply. The government has seized more than $28 million in goods since the program launched in 2006.
On Nov. 1, Quebec police announced a joint bust in three provinces, including B.C., of members of the Hells Angels and Italian organized crime, describing the drug network as a Lower Mainland enterprise with “tentacles” across Canada.
The notice of civil forfeiture filed Monday alleges “unlawful activities” were conducted inside the Vancouver and Kelowna clubhouses, specifically drug trafficking, assault, extortion, murder, uttering threats and restricted firearm ownership.
“Those unlawful activities ... variously resulted in or intended to result in the acquisition of property or serious bodily harm to a person,” the government claims.
The defendants are allowed to file a response within 21 days to fight the claim.
Hells Angels spokesman Rick Ciarniello, in a statement to the Vancouver Sun, said, “It seems that in the last few years, law enforcement has taken a new direction. They now concentrate their efforts using civil law rather than criminal law.
“By doing so, it is much easier for them to prosecute and persecute.”