Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION
Hells' clubhouse raided, seized
Province takes Scotia property armed with court order
It looks like it's the end of the road for a haven for Hells Angels after the clubhouse on a serene stretch of Scotia Street was raided.
Manitoba Justice officials, with the support of Winnipeg police, moved in Thursday morning to take control of the well-known biker hangout after the province obtained a court order allowing the property to be seized.
Manitoba Justice filed an interim court order, which triggered the raid. Early in the day police had blocked off the entire street, located behind the Kildonan Presbyterian Cemetery. Later, only the property itself was off-limits.
The house has allegedly been used as a site to plan and carry out criminal activity such as money laundering. That makes it liable for forfeiture under the Criminal Property Forfeiture Act.
No arrests were made related to the seizure, said Gord Schumacher, director of the province's criminal property forfeiture unit.
"We go after property, not people," he said.
"It pretty much looks like a clubhouse. It's a bar, basically," said Schumacher, describing the inside of the house, which he said had a "decent layout."
"It's a place where the Hells Angels hang their hats."
A source said the two associates of the biker gang in the clubhouse at the time of the raid were told to leave.
Besides the clubhouse, police seized two motorcycles and four vehicles on the property, plus all contents of the house such as furniture. However, most Hells Angels-related paraphernalia was already gone, seized in December during Project Divide, a major police gang operation, and two previous projects as well.
Schumacher said the property owner, Leonard Beauchemin, has 40 days to file a statement of defence to refute the province's allegations.
Beauchemin lives in Ontario. He is not a full-patch Hells Angels member, Schumacher said.
The legal trigger for Thursday's raid allows for proceeds from unlawful acts and property used in an unlawful acts to be forfeited to the government. The property at 2679 Scotia St., which contains a large one-storey building set far back into the well-kept yard, is at the end of the quiet, tree-lined street, flanked by a clearing to the north and the Red River to the east.
The Hells Angels do not own the Scotia Street property, said Winnipeg defence lawyer Jay Prober.
Prober said he is representing a client involved with the seizure though he could not specify who. He has put calls in to Manitoba Justice officials regarding the action.
"We'll have to see whether it's an illegal or a legal seizure," said Prober, who is trying to retrieve items of clothing belonging to his client he said were taken in the raid.
Neighbours, who did not wish to be identified, said they are relieved about the raid but doubt it will be the end of the ordeal. One neighbour said property values on the street have fallen as much as 20 per cent because of the biker gang clubhouse.
Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition July 30, 2010 B1
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