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Four men linked to the Nanaimo Hells Angels are facing 41 charges after a major drug trafficking investigation into the notorious biker club.
Federal prosecutors approved the charges against full-patch Hells Angels William Paulsen and Sean Kendall, former HA member Kristopher Smith, and associate William Thompson on Wednesday.
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Warrants have been issued for the arrest of Paulsen, Kendall and Smith, while Thompson has been arrested and released until his next court date.
Among the dozens of charges are 24 counts of alleged trafficking or possession for the purpose of trafficking in both Campbell River and Nanaimo from the fall of 2019 into the spring of 2020.
And the Crown laid three counts of trafficking firearms and eight other gun-related charges. The firearms seized included an Uzi, five pistols, 12 rifles and four shotguns. And police found six prohibited oversized magazines and more than 4,500 rounds of ammunition.
Paulsen, a 51-year-old Campbell River resident, is also charged with possessing explosives, on top of 16 of the trafficking counts.
At a Surrey news conference on Thursday, the Combined Forces Special Enforcement Unit released details of the investigation, which began in June 2018 and resulted in the seizure of 22 firearms and over 13 kilograms of illicit drugs including cocaine, methamphetamine, black market cannabis and oxycodone.
“The Hells Angels, as everyone knows, is an international outlaw motorcycle club that has had connections to gang and organized crime activity in B.C., across Canada and internationally for decades,” said CFSEU’s chief officer, Manny Mann.
“There have been many incidents and investigations involving members of the Hells Angels connected to violence, firearms and drug trafficking. Today’s announcement is a culmination of over four years worth of investigative efforts by dozens of officers.”
CFSEU, the province’s anti-gang agency, worked with the RCMP’s federal serious and organized crime unit to target the Hells Angels, and two puppet clubs, Langford’s Savages and Campbell River’s Devils Army.
CFSEU Supt. Duncan Pound said “the investigative teams deployed some of the most sophisticated police techniques that we have at our disposal, and they were very successful in gathering evidence. … We’re looking forward to that opportunity to get them into court. And to put the evidence in front of the court.”
Pound said the arrests will make “a significant dent” in organized crime in the province.
The Nanaimo chapter began in July 1983 and is one of three original charters in B.C. It remains the only one on Vancouver Island.
Several members and former members have been convicted of various crimes over the years. Then president Michael (Zeke) Mickle vanished in April 1993 and is presumed dead. Prospect Mike Widner was murdered in March 2017 and made a full-patch member posthumously.
At the time the investigation started, the Hells Angels were planning to expand on Vancouver Island, but CFSEU says the work done in this case prevented that from happening.
Thompson, a 58-year-old Ladysmith resident, is charged with one count of illegal transferring a prohibited firearm, seven of the other gun counts and one of trafficking cocaine.
Nanaimo resident Smith, 44, faces two illegal gun transfer counts, another gun charge and three trafficking counts. At the time of the investigation he was a full-patch Angel but was later kicked out of the club.
Kendall, 44 and a Port Alberni resident, is charged with three counts of selling illicit cannabis to an undercover officer and four of trafficking cocaine.
Supt. Richard Bergevin, who heads the RCMP’s serious and organized crime unit, said the joint investigation demonstrates “our collective ability to effectively collaborate across federal and provincial lines in order to fulfil our shared mandate of protecting B.C. against the most serious threats posed by organized crime.”
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