5 arrested in Ontario killings

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LONDON, Ontario (AP) – Canadian police arrested five people on murder charges Monday for one of Canada’s worst mass killings and said that eight men found inside vehicles on an isolated farm over the weekend were affiliated with a biker gang.

Police called the killings “an internal cleansing” of the Bandidos motorcycle gang, and Detective Ross Bingley of the Ontario Provincial Police said investigators don’t believe a biker gang war was imminent.

“This is an isolated incident with ties to the Bandidos,” Bingley said at a news conference.

Police said they arrested five people at a modest, two-story farmhouse about six miles from where the bodies were found in four vehicles Saturday morning on a farm in Shedden, Ontario, about 90 miles northeast of Detroit.

The victims died of gunshot wounds, police said. Autopsies were being performed Monday.

Police said Bandidos member Wayne Kellestine, 56, would be charged with eight counts of first-degree murder.

Also arrested and charged with eight counts of murder were Eric Niessen, 45; Kerry Morris, 56; Frank Mather, 32; and Brett Gardiner, 21.

The four were not members of the Bandidos.

All five suspects were either from Moncton, Ontario, or the Dutton-Dunwich area, a small farming community in southwestern Ontario between London and the U.S. border. Police said Gardiner had no fixed address.

The victims – all of whom were either full or associate members of the gang – were listed as George Jesso, 52; George Kriarakis, 28; John Muscedere, 48; Luis Manny Raposo, 41; Francesco Salerajno, 43; Paul Sinopoli, 30; and Michael Trotta, 31. Victim Jamie Flanz, 37, was named as a “prospective” member.

All were from Ontario.

The gangland-style killings are the biggest mass murder in Canada since spurned husband Mark Chahal went on a shooting rampage in 1996 in Vernon, British Columbia, killing nine people, including his estranged wife and himself.

Police Detective Don Bell also described the shootings as an “internal cleansing” within the gang and insisted there was little reason for public fear.

“I think this is an isolated incident and I wouldn’t expect to see any significant fallout from it,” Bell said.

He said U.S. intelligence indicates the killings were internal to Canada and not related to any rift with American members of the Bandidos. He said he Canadian arm is comprised of former Quebec gang members, such as the Popeyes and Rock Machine.

Police showed off two black leather Bandidos vests with a caricature of a bandit wearing a sombrero and holding a handgun, and said the public should note if they came across bikers wearing the garb.

“It should be noted that these men are criminals,” Bell said. “They are not the motorcycle enthusiasts they portray themselves to be.”

The rural area where the bodies were found has had problems with motorcycle gangs in the past, but is generally considered low-crime compared to other parts of Canada, in particular Quebec, where biker violence is more common.

“It’s not uncommon for organized crime groups, bikers or anyone else to eliminate some of their members. There are disputes off all kinds, power struggles,” law enforcement consultant Chris Mathers told the AP.

“This shows that the cops were right on top of this,” said Mathers, a former undercover Royal Canadian Mounted Police officer. “To have five people in custody already, that’s pretty good. And now the big thing will be to see which of the five is going to flip on everybody else.”

Mathers said the Bandidos and the Hells Angels have absorbed other biker groups in Canada over the years and he doubted there would be retaliation.

“It’s probably hard to retaliate when most of your membership has been decimated,” he said.

Mathers, a former undercover Royal Canadian Police officer who now runs a consulting firm in Toronto, said the Bandidos and the Hells Angels have absorbed other biker groups in Canada over the year, and he doubted there would be retaliation.

“It’s probably hard to retaliate when most of your membership has been decimated,” Mathers said.

Police found the bodies after a call from the property owners. Mary and Russell Steele told Global News that the vehicles were not there when they took the road home the night before.

They said they called police Saturday morning after looking inside one of the vehicles and not being able to see anything because of a blanket covering the back window.

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