Sudbury police inspector John Somerset says a recent series of arrests targeting organized crime in Sudbury, Ottawa, Niagara and Hamilton have made a significant dent in the presence of biker gangs in the city.
“We certainly neutralized the Hells Angels component in the area,” Somerset told CBC’s Morning North.
Project Skylark, the 14-month investigation, netted 15 people who have been charged with 195 offences connected to a drug network that investigators say sold cocaine, fentanyl and methamphetamine.
Five people from Sudbury were swept up in the arrests, as well as one from Hanmer and one from Blind River, according to police reports.
But Somerset is also aware that there are still challenges ahead for the city.
“Have we eliminated drug trafficking? No,” Somerset said.
“There will always be individuals who are associated, and as well as those who are opportunistic and will leap into the void that’s been created.”
That includes watching for signs of increased biker activity, which often involves the trafficking of drugs, and in some cases, human trafficking.
“We no longer have a chapter of the Hells Angels or Outlaws motorcycle gang in Sudbury,” Somerset said. “However we do have members who belong to other chapters in the province that reside in Sudbury, and they use obviously the residents in their bases of operations.”
Somerset said the Hells Angels formed the Hooligans, a “puppet club” to assist them in their activities.
“This is nothing new for Sudbury, we feel like we’ve had a long history with motorcycle gangs.”
The groups’ apparent reach across the country has also meant that authorities have had to work together across provincial lines.
“When we see this type of organized crime, in which borders can be crossed in a matter of hours, even in a province like Ontario which is so large, we really have to collaborate and work together,” Somerset said.
“So it really shows the entire jurisdictional nature of organized crime.”
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