We do not believe in coincidences. Sooner or later police will have ask whether the killings are related to a national gathering of Bandidos in Toronto just last week. And The Black Rod has learned at least one member of the Winnipeg Bandidos chapter attended the Toronto run.
Reporters have been working hard to put names and faces to the eight men found packed into four abandoned vehicles off the No. 401 Highway.
The Toronto Star has uncovered a few clues:
* The Volkswagen Golf is registered to Luis Manny Raposo. A man with the same name was a known, low-level member of the Bandidos biker gang, and once faced charges in Quebec and accusations of wrongdoing in Ontario.
* The Infinity, found with the body of a heavyset man curled in the back cargo area, was leased by a Montreal company to an Ontario man who has a home in Georgina;
* According to industry sources, the tow truck was being driven by George Jesso, a man in his 50s who has long trawled Toronto's highways for stranded cars and collision scenes.
The latter identity appears to be corroborated by a poster from Rexdale Towing in Etobicoke who went on the Bandidos website Sunday to offer his condolences:
City: Toronto,Ontario,, Canada
Sent: Sat April 08 2006 10:47 PM
To my very personal and great friends that were shot to death "8" on April 8th/06,,, George/Pony and George/Crash and possibilty of other Bandido's members slain,,,
Another of the murdered men may turn out to be Frank Salerno, who helped bring the Bandidos to Canada about six years ago. A member of the Toronto chapter, he was apparently last seen at his home Friday night. He is described as "a massive man weighing about 300 pounds" which would fit the size of the man in the trunk of one of the abandoned vehicles.
The Bandidos link first came from Edward Winterhalder, a former member of the Bandidos motorcycle gang who lives in Oklahoma. He said he learned it from current members in the area who recognized the vehicles from the media coverage.
"I can tell you that it's Bandidos that got killed." The killings could have ramifications in biker gang battles across North America, he said. He's referring to a worldwide truce between the Bandidos and the Hell's Angels, (a truce that may be developing cracks in Winnipeg).
"Connecticut Ed" Winterhalder says he founded the Oklahoma chapter of the Bandidos in early 1997. He writes that worldwide leader of the Bandidos, George Wegers assigned him to oversee the assimilation of the Quebec motorcycle gang known as the Rock Machine into the Bandidos in early 2001.
After leaving the club in 2003 he wrote the book "OUT IN BAD STANDINGS: Inside The Bandidos Motorcycle Club - The Making Of A Worldwide Dynasty". It tells his story of life in an outlaw motorcycle gang. The Rock Machine integration forms almost a quarter of the book.
But Winterhalder's position with the Bandidos is a bit shaky. "Out in bad standings" means he's banished and not allowed to associate with other members.
Also yesterday a heavily armed Ontario Provincial Police tactical team raided the home of Wayne Kellestine, the former leader of the St. Thomas Annihilators and the now-inactive St. Thomas Loners bikers gangs. Winterhalder says Kellestine had ties to the Bandidos.
Kellestine is a veteran of the gang wars that have swept across Ontario. The Globe and Mail reported on one of his close scrapes when the Hell's Angels were trying to take over the drug trade in the province.
When Hell comes to town
By TIMOTHY APPLEBY AND MICHAEL DEN TANDT
Saturday, July 17, 2004
Iona Station, Ont.
In the London, Ont., area, the Angels met with resistance. And that meant war, one that neither rival gangs nor local law-enforcement could win.
In quiet Kitchener, Ont., the Angels maintain a squeaky-clean image as the friendly ''neighbourhood watch.' But local cocaine statistics tell a different story.
This is where the war began.
It was Oct. 22, 1999, a blustery Friday. Wayne (Wiener) Kellestine, the grizzled boss of the St. Thomas Loners and one of the most feared bikers in Ontario, was off to a wedding.
For weeks, the world's most powerful biker gang had courted the Loners, hoping to assimilate them and gain a beachhead in the lucrative Southwestern Ontario drug trade. For weeks, thanks to Mr. Kellestine's obdurate sense of independence, they had failed.
But within moments of his 4-by-4 pulling up to the deserted crossroad in this sleepy hamlet southwest of London, Ont., Mr. Kellestine would discover an elemental truth about the Hells Angels: They don't take no for an answer.
The car appeared out of nowhere, moving at high speed. Inside were David (Dirty) McLeish and Phil (Philbilly) Gastonguay, both Angels associates. One or the other -- the court records are unclear -- opened fire on the Kellestine vehicle with a shotgun, blowing out its windows and showering the interior with glass. Both vehicles then raced away, the occupants making frantic cellphone calls. The simmering feud had turned to open warfare.
That first skirmish was brief. As part of a separate investigation, RMCP drug officers had tapped the principals' cellphones, including Mr. Kellestine's, and within 48 hours all suspects in the botched murder bid were behind bars.
Winnipeg city police are watching developments closely with one eye on the new gang and their puppet club, and the other eye on the established H.A.'s in Winnipeg. Recent arrests have weakened both rosters but may not have dampened their fighting spirit.
Sun Media reported the following on Monday:
Meanwhile, sources say Kellestine has been building a chapter of the Bandidos for about a year. Several times in the past year, he has been seen in nearby communities wearing Bandidos colours and accompanied by other Bandidos, one nearby merchant said.
Only a week ago, he showed up in one community with five burly men from Winnipeg, the merchant added. An associate of the Bandidos confirmed yesterday Kellestine had a clubhouse in London over the summer where up to six bikers would gather.