TORONTO, March 28 /CNW/ - An outlaw motorcycle gang clubhouse has been
forfeited under provincial civil forfeiture law.
Lawyers for the Attorney General demonstrated to the civil court that a
Heron Street clubhouse in Thunder Bay was an instrument of unlawful activity,
including drug possession and trafficking. On March 27, 2008, the Superior
Court ordered it forfeited to the Crown.
"Ontario is a world leader in the use of civil forfeiture law," said
Attorney General Chris Bentley. "It's an innovative law that allows the court
to take away property and assets used as instruments of unlawful activity by
outlaw motorcycle gangs and other criminal organizations."
"In Ontario, unlawful activity doesn't pay," said Bill Mauro, MPP Thunder
Bay-Atikokan. "Instead, Ontario's civil forfeiture legislation allows for
forfeited proceeds to support victims and prevent victimization."
"Outlaw biker gangs are not welcome in our neighbourhoods," said Michael
Gravelle, MPP Thunder Bay-Superior North. "The Attorney General is using civil
forfeiture law to help protect our community by taking away property used for
"This is a very significant forfeiture," said Detective Inspector Dan
Redmond, Unit Commander of the Ontario Provincial Police-led Biker Enforcement
Unit. "Outlaw motorcycle gangs and their associates need to know that we're
going to use every available criminal and civil law tool to deal with unlawful
"The outlaw biker clubhouse in Thunder Bay has long been a thorn in our
side," said Thunder Bay Police Chief Robert Herman. "Its forfeiture is a good
news story for our community and demonstrates our commitment to working with
our partners to stop the unlawful activities of outlaw motorcycle gangs."
- Since November 2003, $5 million in property has been forfeited to the
Crown under provincial civil forfeiture law. An additional
$11.6 million in property is frozen pending the completion of civil
- Civil forfeiture proceeds have funded approximately $1 million in
compensation to victims of unlawful activity and more than $900,000
in grants to law enforcement agencies.
Learn more about civil forfeiture in Ontario
Read about outlaw motorcycle gangs
Read the Civil Remedies Act
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OUTLAW MOTORCYCLE GANG CLUBHOUSE FORFEITED
Police say the Satan's Choice Motorcycle Club used a building on Heron
Street in Thunder Bay as a clubhouse for 10 years. In 2000, it was transferred
to the Hells Angels' Thunder Bay chapter.
A police investigation between 2004 and 2006 called Project Husky
resulted in 27 people, including members and associates of the chapter, being
charged in connection with drug trafficking and organized crime.
The clubhouse has been the subject of a number of search warrants and
investigations, which resulted in dozens of charges, including drug possession
The Thunder Bay Police Service and the Ontario Provincial Police
forwarded the case to the Ministry of the Attorney General for consideration
under the Civil Remedies Act.
On September 14, 2007, the clubhouse was frozen under Ontario's civil
On March 27, 2008, the Superior Court of Ontario ordered the clubhouse on
Heron Street forfeited to the Crown. Lawyers for the Attorney General
demonstrated to the civil court that the clubhouse was used as an instrument
of the unlawful activities of drug possession and trafficking. The registered
owner of the clubhouse consented to the forfeiture.
CIVIL FORFEITURE IN ONTARIO
Ontario's civil forfeiture law - the Civil Remedies Act - allows the
Attorney General to ask the civil court for an order to freeze, take
possession of and forfeit to the Crown, property that is determined to be a
proceed or an instrument of unlawful activity.
A proceed is property, such as money, acquired as a result of unlawful
activity. An instrument is property that is likely to be used to engage in
unlawful activity in the future. Property includes all types of assets, such
as real estate, cars and cash.
In Ontario, civil forfeiture legislation focuses solely on the connection
between property and unlawful activity, and is not dependent on any criminal
charges or convictions. The standard of proof required for civil forfeiture is
the same as it is in all civil actions - a balance of probabilities.
HOW CIVIL FORFEITURE LAW WORKS
The process for civil forfeiture begins when a designated institution,
such as the police or a government ministry, submits a case to the reviewing
authority, an independent Crown counsel in the Ministry of the Attorney
General. That counsel decides whether the statutory criteria in the Civil
Remedies Act have been met. Once that is confirmed, the case information is
forwarded to the ministry's Civil Remedies for Illicit Activities office
(CRIA), which is responsible for enforcing the Act.
CRIA lawyers bring proceedings to court on behalf of the Attorney
General. The court can grant an interim order to freeze property so it cannot
be used, mortgaged or sold pending the outcome of the forfeiture proceeding.
If CRIA lawyers can prove that the property in question is a proceed or an
instrument of unlawful activity, the court can issue orders forfeiting the
property to the Crown.
Forfeited property that is not cash is liquidated and the funds,
including any cash forfeited, are deposited into a special purpose account.
Special purpose account funds may be disbursed: to compensate direct victims
of the unlawful activity that led to forfeiture (victims may submit a claim
for compensation); for cost recovery to the Crown; for grants to support
programs and initiatives that help victims of unlawful activity or prevent
CIVIL FORFEITURE SUCCESSES
Ontario's Civil Remedies for Illicit Activities office is recognized
nationally and internationally for its precedent-setting work. Since
November 2003, a total of $5 million in property has been forfeited to the
Crown. The province also has approximately $11.6 million in property that is
frozen pending the completion of civil forfeiture proceedings.
Under the Civil Remedies Act, the Attorney General has:
- Shut down a notorious Hamilton crack house and transferred ownership
to the City of Hamilton
- Frozen crack houses in Hamilton and Chatham
- Frozen a biker clubhouse in Oshawa
- Crushed two street racing cars
- Taken 10 guns off the streets (including a stun gun)
- Forfeited 14 properties used for marijuana grow operations and frozen
- Forfeited over $1 million in illicit cash
- Distributed approximately $1 million in compensation to victims of
- Awarded more than $900,000 in grants to law enforcement agencies.
Disponible en français
For further information:
For further information: Sheamus Murphy, Ministry of the Attorney
General, Minister's Office, (416) 326-1785; Brendan Crawley, Ministry of the
Attorney General, Communications Branch, (416) 326-2210