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The Manitoba Warriors are an Aboriginal criminal organization based out of Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. Their prominent locations are in the Central and North End neighbourhoods of Winnipeg. The Manitoba Warriors is an exclusively Aboriginal gang that began in 1992 to oppose outlaw biker and white supremacist ("Aryan") prison gangs. Common nicknames that the Manitoba Warriors are referred to as include MW, 1323 and the Warriors.
The Manitoba Warriors were formed as a prison gang in 1992. They originated as an exclusively Aboriginal criminal organization at the Stony Mountain institution. They created the MW to protect Native and Metis inmates and to rival traditional prison gangs. As incarcerated members were released, they recruited disenfranchised, young Aboriginals from their neighbourhoods. Unlike other Aboriginal gangs, they chose a structure similar to that found in outlaw biker culture. Each member holds a specific ranking, similar to the ranks found in outlaw biker clubs. However, according to former president Brian Contois, the Warriors were founded on a code of ethics aimed at bringing some level of morality, pride, and dignity to a way of life that would otherwise be unobtainable to these youth. This gang lifestyle promised them employment, money and brotherhood. By creating this place to find their identity there was a boom of recruitment, which might explain the variations in the MW's actual size. There are 300 active members listed in the City of Winnipeg’s gang unit database and a further 140 inactive. They first caught the attention of the police in 1993 and have since become a focal point of police investigation due to the volume and intensity of their activities. There have been three major operations against the Manitoba warriors starting with Operation Northern Snow in 1998. The police then launched Project Octopus after finding out that the Warriors were exploiting Government funding for a homelessness initiative called Paa Pii Wak. One of the Warriors most recent setbacks was a raid, labeled Project Falling Star, resulting in the arrest of 57 members and associates. As the Warriors expanded out of prison into Winnipeg and the surrounding area they also expanded their prison network. Their main territories are in the Central and North End neighborhoods of Winnipeg.
The patch or insignia of a criminal organization is an important visual representation of the group. The patch of the Manitoba Warriors is an eight-pointed sun with the head of a Native American Warrior in the center. It is also often customary that a gang is represented by a colour, and for the Warriors it is black. Besides their patched vests, there are jerseys, sweaters and tank tops displaying symbols of the Manitoba Warriors as is common among similar organizations.
The Manitoba Warriors often refer to their gang as 1323 and those numbers have become synonymous with the MW. The numbers 13 and 23 stand for the location of "M" and "W" in the alphabet . These numbers have become common in reference to the warriors and is common in tattoos of their organization.
The Manitoba Warriors began rejecting the structure of similar rival gangs and instead there organization is structured similar to outlaw motorcycle clubs. Senior members' ranks are indicated by tattoos and titles including a president, vice-president and sergeant-at-arms. Pospective members are apprentices before they become a fully fledged members, analogous to the process of “striking” in biker gangs. After the police operation Northern Snow the Warriors changed from classic biker culture and formed three distinct cells the Ruthless Warriors, Central Warriors, and Notorious Krew. The strategy behind this was that if one of the cells is compromised by a police interdiction it would not affect the other cells. A short time later they scrapped the three-cell strategy because rival organizations were expanding too quickly for the three separate cells. So they dissolved the separate organizations and went back to a single cohesive organization. The Warriors reinstated leadership titles and a new “council” of high-ranking members was created to make decisions and pass down orders to other members in a way that protected the council from direct involvement in crime.
The Manitoba Warriors are typically located in the central and northern suburbs of Winnipeg. Other organizations that have adopted the "Warriors" banner such as the Alberta and Saskatchewan Warriors, helped spread the gang's influence to other cities. However, their turf is not exclusive to these areas, and the Warriors also have a substantial prison network.
The Manitoba Warriors started out as an exclusively Aboriginal organization designed to protect Native and Metis inmates against aggression from other prison groups at the Stony Mountain Institution but have since spread to the Headingley Correctional Institution and Edmonton Institution.
The Manitoba Warriors have been known to work with and align themselves with other criminal organizations. The Saskatchewan Warriors, Alberta Warriors, Rock Machine, CENTRAL, Loyalty Honour Silence and MOB Squad are some of their more well known affiliations. An interesting thing about the Manitoba Warriors is that they created the Warriors banner that was adopted to create new criminal organizations. Criminal Organizations like the Alberta Warriors and Saskatchewan Warriors originally adopted this banner under the Manitoba Warriors and have since separated and expanded. Saskatchewan Warriors originally worked for the MW but have become a separate affiliated criminal organization. The SW is also an Aboriginal street gang that are active mainly in the Regina, Saskatoon and Prince Albert areas of Saskatchewan. Although MW and SW are separate gangs, they have been known to work together from time to time.
Due to the nature of criminal organizations, it tends to be easy to make enemies, and the Manitoba Warriors are no exception. Indian Posse, Native Syndicate, Terror Squad, Manitoba Blood Family, PK Mobsters, Redd Alert, Mad Cowz, Bloods, Hells Angels, the Zig Zag Crew, and MOB are all known rivals of the MW. The Most Organized Brothers or MOB squad was once affiliated with the MW but due to an unspecified “blow out” the alliance fell apart. This falling out has caused an air of bad blood between the two organizations to exist even today.
Throughout the years there has been a violent rivalry between the Indian Posse and the Manitoba Warriors. The Indian Posse is also an Aboriginal street gang that started out as a prison gang. The Manitoba Warriors met their first rivals in the form of the Indian Posse. The conflict between these two groups came to a climax in the spring 1996. On April 25, 1996 the Manitoba Warriors and the Indian Posse members got into an altercation at the Headingley Correctional Institution, causing a riot. The riot lasted 8 hours and caused approximately seven million dollars in damages. Eight guards and 31 inmates were injured in the riot. It is estimated that the Manitoba Warriors outnumber their arch enemies, the Indian Posse, by approximately 2 to 1 in Manitoba. There is still a very active rivalry between these two criminal organizations.
There has been an on-again off-again relationship between the Hells Angels and Manitoba Warriors over the city of Winnipeg’s drug distribution network. The Manitoba Warriors leaders began seeking control of the Winnipeg drug trade in the mid 1990s. The Angels were the main distributors of methamphetamines and crack cocaine. Because The Hells Angels are perhaps Canada's most powerful criminal organisation, one of the Manitoba Warriors' first targets in the early 2000s would be the Manitoba Hells Angels motorcycle gang. The Angels lacked the numbers of the larger Manitoba Warriors. The Manitoba Warriors eventually gained control of the Winnipeg drug trade by murdering 3 Manitoba Hells Angel bikers. At the time, they were the only street gang with the ability to successfully challenge the Angels and push the Hells Angels back. The MW and Hells Angels have been known to work together; however, there is a lot of bad blood between the two criminal organizations.
In 1998, the Winnipeg police were given the authority to begin a long investigation called Operation Northern Snow to counter the gang's drug trafficking. Thirty-five gang members were arrested and charged under new federal anti-gang legislation and held in a maximum security court house without the option for bail. Some members spent 20 months in jail waiting for trial and for 10 of those months they were being transported back and forth to the court house to plead their innocence. The case fell apart because of the length of time it took the Crown to begin the case. Some of the accused were released after their time imprisoned awaiting trial. Others faced an additional 18 months, and 22 of the accused accepted plea bargains. The Manitoba Warriors' growth was not slowed by Operation Northern Snow.
In 2008, the police were again involved in an investigation into the Manitoba Warriors who were becoming a notorious street gang. The RCMP alerted the Winnipeg police that the Manitoba Warriors were exploiting government funding for a “homeless” initiative called Paa Pii Wak. The investigation was launched in December 2008 and it did not take long for it to become clear that the Manitoba Warriors were using Paa Pii Wak to further their criminal activities. The investigation showed that the Warriors exploited Paa Pii Wak in a few different ways. They used the organization to give active gang members and associates a legitimate source of income. it also gave gang members the authority to supervise gang members on court ordered release and gave the MW a way to extract active gang members from the centre. It also gave the Manitoba Warriors the ability to amend court orders rendering them ineffective. It was also known that the “staff” permitted the use of alcohol and drugs in the shelter. This was a real blow for the Homeless community because the Paa Pii Wak facilities that were supposed to help them were being used by a criminal organization.