KELOWNA – When RCMP arrested a member of a new street gang in Kelowna this month, it was a significant blow to the organization.
“They are what we consider a low level street gang (present) only in the immediate Kelowna area,” Staff sgt. Lindsey Houghton of the B.C. Combined Forces Special Enforcement Unit says. “You can count their members on two hands.”
The gang came to light last week when a cache of guns, drugs and a vest bearing an unfamiliar crest was displayed to the media by local police after a warrant was executed at a home in West Kelowna.
Two men and a woman were arrested and a seven-year-old child found inside the home was brought under the care of the Ministry of Child and Family Development.
A 24-year-old West Kelowna woman was questioned and released. A 37-year-old West Kelowna man is expected to appear in court Oct. 13 on possible drug and firearms related charges and a 32-year-old West Kelowna man, Tyson Ashleigh Bone, remains in custody.
Const. Jesse O’Donaghey said Bone is a member of a small, new gang called the Kelowna Warriors.
“They’ve been around for about four years,” Houghton confirmed on July 19. “Mostly street-level stuff like drugs but often times they are the most dangerous.”
Houghton says there are fewer than ten members and that membership changes quickly.
“We see a lot of transiency at levels like this,” he says. “They say they’re in one group one day and then swear allegiance to another the next day.”
The vest taken from the West Kelowna home included three patches, a central logo and the name of the city and gang above and below.
“In order to wear the three-piece patch you have to get the consent of whichever outlaw groups control the area. In Kelowna it’s the Hells Angels.”
Houghton says although they likely have permission from the Angels to operate, there is no evidence of cooperation between the groups.
“One senior member has some past affiliation with the Manitoba Warriors,” he says. “They’re a well-established street level gang originating out of Winnipeg. They’re predominately First Nations.”
Houghton however, stops short of calling the Kelowna Warriors a First Nations' gang.
“Most of the groups, including the traditional aboriginal gangs like Red Alert or Indian Posse… are not ethnically pure. They recognize they need to accept members from other nationalities in order to grow.”
Like a lot of gangs, the Kelowna Warriors make their money through street level drug dealing.
“It’s competition over the drug trade. It’s a very chaotic, dog-eat-dog world where they compete for geography, drug lines and suppliers,” he says. “Like in any city there are little groups and cells of drug dealers… but certainly not with the type of branding like the Kelowna Warriors have.”
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