Four men linked to Hells Angels chapters on Vancouver Island have been charged with 41 counts of drug and weapons-related offences in what B.C.’s anti-gang unit is calling a major blow to the region’s illicit drug trade.
The notorious motorcycle club appeared poised to expand its drug trafficking operations and open other chapters on Vancouver Island, the Combined Special Enforcement Unit of British Columbia said in a news release announcing the charges Thursday.
The agency and partners like the RCMP Federal Serious Organized Crime Unit launched the investigation in 2018, gathering information on the Hells Angels club in Nanaimo and support clubs Savages MC and Devils Army MC using a variety of investigative techniques.
Over 22 months, investigators obtained evidence that led to the charges being approved — including a cache of drugs and weapons. Among the items seized were:
- Cocaine (7.75 kg)
- Methamphetamine (1.9 kg)
- Cannabis (4 kg)
- Pills – 248 Oxycodone
- Other CDSA (can be buff, etc) 1.2 kg (cutting agents
- Hand guns – one Uzi, five pistols
- Long guns – 12 Rifles, 4 shotguns
- Magazines – six oversized prohibited
- Ammunition in excess of 4,500 rounds
- 25 electronic devices
- Five tubes of commercial emulsion explosives
A residence has also been “restrained” and three vehicles seized as property related to the offences, police said.
Of the four men charged Wednesday, only one is currently in custody.
Ladysmith resident William Bradley Thompson, 58, has been released before his next court appearance and faces 11 counts including possessing restricted firearms, unlawfully transferring a prohibited firearm, unloading a prohibited firearm, and possession of cocaine for the purpose of trafficking.
The three other men currently still at large include:
- Sean Oliver Douglas Kendall, 44, from Port Alberni, who faces seven counts — three for unlawfully selling cannabis to an undercover police officer, and four for unlawfully trafficking cocaine
- Kristopher Stephen Smith, 44, from Nanaimo, who faces six counts including trafficking cocaine, possessing and unlawfully transferring a non-restricted firearm, and trafficking a controlled substance (oxycodone).
- William Karl Paulsen, 51, from Campbell River, who faces 17 counts, including 15 for trafficking cocaine and one for trafficking methamphetamine, as well as an additional count for possessing six tubes of Senatel Magnafrac explosives without a lawful excuse
CFSEU says the result of the four-year-long bust is a “significant” disruption to the Vancouver Island illegal drug trade.
“This lengthy and complex investigation spanned over four years and included over 50 dedicated resources resulting in significant seizures of potentially deadly drugs and serious charges,” said Asst. Comm. Manny Mann, Chief Officer for CFSEU-BC, in a statement.
Federal RCMP say the arrests and charges highlight the effectiveness of law enforcement cooperation at the federal, provincial and local levels.
“By successfully bringing this joint force operation to prosecution, BC RCMP FSOC, and CFSEU-BC have demonstrated our collective ability to effectively collaborate across federal and provincial lines in order to fulfill our shared mandate of protecting B.C. against the most serious threats,” said Officer in Charge of BC RCMP Federal Policing Richard Bergevin.
Anyone who has information about the three suspects’ whereabouts is asked to call their local police or Crime Stoppers.