The head of the Manitoba Hells Angels wants to go home for the holidays.
Dale Sweeney, the president of the local chapter, appeared in court Tuesday for a two-day bail hearing. A court-ordered ban prevents specific details of the case from being published. Sweeney is being represented by high-powered Ontario defence lawyer Alan Gold, who has made a career out of defending members of the Hells Angels.
Sweeney, 41, has been in custody since March 2012 following his arrest as part of a major undercover police project. Investigators nabbed Sweeney and 10 other gang members and associates as they dealt the Hells Angels another blow in their quest for organized-crime dominance.
Police seized an estimated two kilograms of cocaine and an undisclosed amount of cash and laid various charges, including trafficking, proceeds of crime, money laundering and participating in a criminal organization. Police also seized various properties, including Sweeney’s motorcycle, as alleged proceeds of crime.
Operation Flatlined was the fourth major bust of the Manitoba Hells Angels since 2006. The three previous projects -- Defence (2006), Drill (2007) and Divide (2009) — led to 62 biker arrests, including former presidents Ernie Dew and Dale Donovan. 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 direct reference to the Redlined Support Crew, which is serving as 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 that list was the Rock Machine, which waged war with the Hells Angels in Quebec during the 1990s but has never had much of a presence in Manitoba until recently.