A police investigation into rival Fort McMurray outlaw motorcycle gangs has resulted in five members facing criminal charges.
The Fort McMurray chapters of the Warlocks and the Syndicate, a Hells Angels support club, have been under police investigation in relation to an alleged conflict between the groups.
Since late August, several criminal incidents are believed to have been linked to the conflict, the Alberta Law Enforcement Response Teams said in a news release Monday.
The investigation was conducted by ALERT and local RCMP. The criminal incidents remain under investigation, ALERT said.On Sept. 21, search warrants were executed on three vehicles and one Fort McMurray home alleged to be the Warlocks clubhouse.
Investigators seized 15 rifles and shotguns, one Glock handgun, and other prohibited weapons, including brass knuckles and bear spray.
They also seized Warlocks club documents, paraphernalia and seven Warlocks vests with “one-per-cent” patches on them.
“In the outlaw biker world the cuts (vests) signify membership or status within the club,” Insp. Chad Coles of ALERT said.
“The one-per-cent patch, the significance of that, is that members who belong to these groups are identifying themselves as that one per cent of the biker population that don’t conform to society’s rules norms and laws.”
No firearms charges were laid because all 16 firearms seized were lawfully possessed, ALERT said.
But the agency said it will apply to destroy them since they were seized in the interest of public safety.
Five Warlocks members were arrested and charged with committing an indictable offence for a criminal organization, robbery, and possession of a prohibited weapon.
They are in custody and bail has been denied. They were set to appear in court on Monday.
Crime not linked to tough economy
Despite the arrests, Wood Buffalo RCMP assure the community that police are not seeing a wave of gang-related activity or crime because of the slump in the local economy or immediately after the wildfire.
“We haven’t seen a trend here,” Wood Buffalo RCMP Supt. Rob McCloy said.
“The community is safe. We haven’t seen an increase in crime in the past year. Our crime rates remain pretty steady.”
ALERT said the Warlocks have been operating in Fort McMurray since 2010 as one of two chapters in Canada of the Florida-based organization. The other Canadian chapter is in Edmonton.
A Warlocks chapter that operated out of Drayton Valley was dismantled in 2014 when ALERT arrested four members.
“We hope that the Fort McMurray chapter suffers the same fate,” Coles said.
The Syndicate has been in Fort McMurray since 2009, ALERT said. It is one of about two dozen Hells Angels support clubs across Alberta.