For a city its size, Kamloops is an outlier in B.C. when it comes to organized crime.
Outlaw motorcycle gangs, the biggest players in the province’s drug trade, do not maintain a visible presence in the city. There is no clubhouse and gang colours are only seen on rare occasions, usually when visitors come from elsewhere.
The Lower Mainland, Kelowna, Prince George, Nanaimo and the Fraser Valley all have a visible outlaw biker presence. But not Kamloops.
According to one justice official who spoke to KTW, the lack of colours does not necessarily indicate a lack of presence.
“They are in control here,” the official said.
“We don’t have the sinister things you see in other places that just hangs over everything, but they are in control here.”
Each of the three organized crime groups operating in Kamloops prior to the murder of Konaam Shirzad was likely working with the blessing of the Hells Angels in some form, the official said. And blessings are not cheap in the world of outlaw motorcycle gangs.
“There’s the big dog and then there are the little dogs,” the source told KTW.
“The little dogs yapping at each other, that’s what we have in Kamloops. The big dog doesn’t care because, no matter what happens, it is taken care of. It would take something big for the big dog to get involved here. Someone would have to try to cut them out.”
And big-dog involvement would not be opportunistic murders and robberies like Kamloops has seen in recent weeks and months. It would be more public, the source said.
“Look at Kelowna, the Bacon shooting,” the source said, referring to the Aug. 14, 2011, murder of Red Scorpion gangster Jonathan Bacon outside Kelowna’s Delta Grand Hotel.
“That was big dog. They did that in front of the nicest hotel in the tourist part of town. They were saying, ‘It doesn’t matter where you are or who you are.’”
That is not the case with what is happening in Kamloops.
“We have these lower-level guys going around doing shit — pop, pop, pop, pop,” the source said.
“You look at a place like Kelowna, that is dark. It is big money. Everyone knows the hierarchy and who is in charge. But here? It’s little dogs yapping — foot soldiers. And the big dog doesn’t care because he is fine no matter what.”
Kamloops RCMP Staff Sgt. Simon Pillay said outlaw bikers are not necessarily involved in all drug trafficking.
“I would say that’s an over-simplification of the situation,” he said. “There are definitely multiple import-level crime groups operating in Canada.”
Bikers have set up shop in Kamloops in the past.
In the late 1990s, a Hells Angels-backed group called the Hub City Men’s Club left Nanaimo and settled in Kamloops, later changing its name to the Vipers.
A Hells Angels puppet club called The Crew — believed to have been active in Prince George since 2005 — tried to gain a foothold in the city in the early 2000s.
Neither club was able to flourish. Another group, the North Shore Motorcycle Club, tried to establish itself in 2011, but was not successful.
A new HA-backed biker club is believed to have been attempting to set up shop in Kamloops as recently as last April.
Pillay would not comment on whether a new biker group is attempting to establish itself in the city.
“I guess what I’d say is we keep a lot of emphasis on collecting intelligence on all groups operating in the criminal element in Kamloops,” he said.
“We focus on the criminal activity specifically, not necessarily the name-brand group who may or may not be coming through the community. But Kamloops is a very small city and we always keep a close watch on any group coming to the city.”