Increased police scrutiny of the Hells Angels has pushed the infamous gang into outsourcing its drug trade business to smaller outfits – a likely reason why a full-patch Angel was in the same SUV as Red Scorpions gangster Jonathan Bacon when the vehicle was riddled by gunfire.
"If you are a full-patch biker, you no longer drive around on a Harley with your full leather, showing your tattoos. It doesn't pay to advertise and it doesn't pay to do the risky work at the street level," said organized-crime expert Michael Chettleburgh. "It pays to develop relationships with these young, eager gangsters who don't look at risk the same way as the older folks do."
Mr. Chettleburgh said people tend to think street-level gangs like the Red Scorpions stand alone. But over the past decade more and more have linked up with higher levels of organized crime, like the Hells Angels.
The street-level gangs get supply – the higher-level groups get an added layer of security.
"It's a way of insulating themselves from being arrested. They push the risk further down the pyramid, and the money comes back up," Mr. Chettleburgh said of the Angels.
"We see a lot more of these relationships across the country, not just with the Bacons. I know gangs here in Toronto, made of six, eight or 10 people, who have a connect with some serious organized-crime gangsters who are controlling the wholesale supply of drugs."
Superintendent Pat Fogarty of B.C.'s Combined Forces Special Enforcement Unit said the Hells Angels in this province certainly rely on young gangsters.
"A lot of these Hells Angels people are older guys now. They don't have that 25-year-old that can carry the load. You'll see what's typically a puppet club of the Hells Angels. Whether it's formal or not, it's used to augment the strength of the Hells Angels," he said, describing it as a form of outsourcing.
"If your main focus is drug trafficking, you need the younger guys. They use the youth to move their product, do a lot of their violence for them. They rely on younger people, like any organization would."