Outlaw biker clubhouses are secure private facilities where members of that outlaw club meet, hold parties, and do their business. They are not open to the public or authorities in the way that a Legion or Lion’s Club would be. Fortified entrances and extensive video surveillance can make it difficult for authorities to verify building permits, fire code, or liquor licenses, and present serious officer safety concerns when responding to calls for service or executing warrants. Based on a 2018 online survey of 1,016 BC residents, 63% of respondents would avoid a particular area/business/bar if outlaw bikers were there.
The Hells Angels, for example, list 513 Charters worldwide: 162 new charters (1948-2000), 163 new charters (2001-2012), 153 new charters (2013-2018), 35 new charters (2019), as well as 2 prospect countries and 4 hangaround countries. They list 44 charters in Canada. Each charter will have a clubhouse, serving both symbolic and functional purposes within a community.
In British Columbia, it has been proven in court that a wide range of criminal activities, including violence, has been committed inside clubhouses. Several clubhouses have been ordered restrained by the courts.
Cash-based industries are particularly vulnerable to exploitation for money-laundering. These industries are also fertile ground for recruitment. People recruited into organized crime are not in control. They are puppets. Popular television shows in recent years have unfortunately glamorized the gangster lifestyle and likely helped organized crime groups attract recruits and supporters at alarming rates.
Female participation in gangs is also an issue. It can range from ignorance, gathering info or passing messages, carrying guns and drugs in their purses, or full-scale drugs and weapons trafficking. This participation may be voluntary or coerced. Studies show that gang members are more likely to have sex-related health issues than non-gang members. Maybe think twice.
Some businesses owned by outlaw motorcycle club members are “front” businesses for illegal activities such as illegal gaming and betting. Money laundering has been noted by the Canadian federal government as being connected to transnational organized crimes with growing risks to national security. Illegal gaming, while on the surface may appear to be an insignificant part of organized criminal enterprise is, in fact, a foundation upon which many other illicit activities are supported. This activity and related crimes such as predatory loan sharking are a significant source of revenue and provide working capital to invest in legitimate ventures, thereby strengthening the entire illicit operation. This dirty money fuels street level violence, which is a clear demonstration of the disregard that these groups pose to public safety and innocent bystanders who may become unintended victims of gang violence. Based on a 2018 online survey of 1,016 BC residents, prominent past and current members have shared highly sensationalized accounts of their own criminal lifestyles to reinforce this biker subculture. You risk having your assets seized if you use a business for illegal purposes.
Outlaw bikers often list middle-income, blue-collar professions but have net worths, at times, in the multi-millions. Illegal activities, such as extortion, money laundering, and tax evasion can have an enormous impact on the economy, causing trade distortion in numerous industries including real estate and finance, while placing an undue share of the tax burden on law-abiding citizens. Outlaw bikers in British Columbia own local businesses ranging from construction companies, bars, real estate companies, transportation firms, and many more.
Organized crime activities are complex issues crossing multiple domestic and international boundaries, affecting an ever-changing landscape of sectors. From casinos, to real estate and luxury vehicles, gang members use sophisticated, underground, local and global networks with varying methods of conducting criminal activities to limit the risk of detection and to limit their chances of arrest. While the reputed, non-violent nature of economic crime rarely fuels the same public concern seen in response to violent crime, the ripple effects of organized crime activities have increasingly been linked to an array of social and economic harms, such as the opioid crisis and housing affordability, affecting public safety and the economic integrity of British Columbia.
While the vast majority of motorcycle riders are law-abiding citizens, extensive criminal networks within the outlaw biker community continue to profit from illicit activities like drug trafficking, fraud, counterfeiting, money laundering, contraband smuggling, extortion, violence, and illegal gaming.
Under Section 467.1(1) of the Criminal Code of Canada (CCC), the Hells Angels have been found to be a criminal organization in several provinces, including the Ontario Superior Court of Justice and the Quebec Superior Court Criminal Division.
Simply put, outlaw motorcycle gangs commit crimes that damage the Canadian economy. In recent years, biker-specific criminal investigations have resulted in significant drug and weapons seizures from biker drug trafficking networks in Ontario and Alberta, and charges against outlaw motorcycle gang members in BC for murder and conspiracy to murder, among others. Based on a 2018 online survey of 1,016 BC residents, half of respondents believe that biker crimes are victimless, and 46% believe that crimes committed by bikers do not impact the public – guess again.
Outlaw Bikers typically retain their club membership status while in prison and rejoin the club when released. During their sentence, many will continue to pull strings on their criminal operations out in the community and use their time in prison to further network criminally with other gangs. Despite this, club spokespeople will often make statements to media suggesting that they are not a criminal organization, they simply let in a “few bad apples” by mistake. In BC, the percentage of OMG members with criminal records is many times higher than the general public, as high as three-quarters of a chapter’s membership in some cases. Studies have also found that roughly half to three-quarters of outlaw bikers have criminal records. This is more than a few bad apples. It is an unusually high number of bad apples all in one place, under one patch – the same patch all over the world.