Authors: Paul Cherry
The Biker Trials
Bringing Down the Hells Angels
Copyright Â© Paul Cherry, 2005
Queen Street East, Suite
, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form by any process â electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise â without the prior written permission of the copyright owners and
LIBRARY AND ARCHIVES CANADA CATALOGUING IN PUBLICATION
Cherry, Paul, 1968â
The biker trials : bringing down the Hell Angels / Paul Cherry.
. Hell's Angels.
. Trials (Narcotic laws) â QuÃ©bec (Province) â MontrÃ©al.
. Drug traffic â QuÃ©bec (Province).
. Motorcycle gangs â QuÃ©bec (Province).
. Organized crime â QuÃ©bec (Province).
HV6491.C32Q4 2005AÂ Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â 345.71â²277â²971428Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â C2005-904372-5
Editor: Emily Schultz
Production: Mary Bowness
Cover Photo: Photonica
This book is set in Minion and Scratch
With the publication of
The Biker Trials
acknowledges the generous financial support of the Government of Canada through the Book Publishing Industry Development Program (
), the Canada Council for the Arts, and the Ontario Arts Council, for our publishing activities.
: Jaguar Book Group,
Armstrong Ave., Georgetown,
: Independent Publishers Group, 814 North Franklin Street, Chicago,
PRINTED AND BOUND IN CANADA
To S and C
Seeing as how this book is about crime and the courts it is fitting that this begin with a confession. I was not able to attend all of the court procedures covered in this book. The three main trials mentioned in this book stretched out over a period of months and in one case more than a year, all while I covered crime on a daily basis for
. Writing about some key parts required a thorough listening of digital recordings after the hearings took place.
Keeping informed of what was significant and interesting would not have been possible without help from several people, including the journalists who followed the trials on a daily basis like Isabelle Richer of Radio Canada, Marc Pigeon of the
Journal de MontrÃ©al
, Charles AndrÃ© Marchand and especially AndrÃ© CÃ©dilot of
who, along with Michel Auger of the
Journal de MontrÃ©al
, gave much support through their encouragement.
Writing this also would never have been possible without the support of author Lee Lamothe. Antonio Nicaso, author of several books on organized crime, also lent support through his advice.
I also want to thank everyone at
Press who helped, especially Jack David, David Caron, Mary Bowness, Crissy Boylan, Emily Schultz and Emma McKay.
It goes without saying that writing a book requires time and I wouldn't have had that valuable commodity without Ross Teague and George Kalogerakis, the current and former city
, who both juggled complicated schedules while allowing me to dedicate time towards this book.
The other valuable commodity that was always in supply while writing this was advice and information and for this I would like to thank Guy Ouellette, a retired SÃ»retÃ© de QuÃ©bec sergeant and the province's foremost expert on biker gangs, Gary Francoeur, Rita Legault of the
, Peter Edwards of the
and Adrian Humphries at the
Researching this material required the patient help of many clerks at courthouses across Quebec.
There are several other people I would like to thank including several friends and family members who would rather not see their names appear in such a book.
Most disputes over criminal matters like drug turf appear nebulous to the average, law-abiding citizen. “Who were the people behind this explosion?” or “What could have motivated someone to gun down that young man on my street?” are questions often left hanging as two criminal organizations battle it out in a metropolitan area like Montreal. It took a while, but eventually the war between the Hells Angels and a group of criminal organizations called the Alliance, which started in 1994, held little mystery for the average person.
By August 1995, after a series of explosions and murders, and in particular the death of an innocent boy, many people in Quebec were aware of what the war was about and who the two sides were. Unlike most shadowy criminal organizations the Hells Angels and a rival gang called the Rock Machine advertised who they were with patches on the backs of their leather jackets. Like politicians or corporations eager to generate name recognition, both sides handed out T-shirts and baseball caps to drug dealers who sided with them.
Operation Springtime 2001 signaled the beginning of the end of what came to be known as the biker gang war. On March 28, 2001, more than 2,000 police officers across Quebec were dispatched to carry out more than 130 arrest warrants and seize gang assets, including 20 buildings, 70 firearms and $8.6 million Canadian and $2.7 million U.S.
The massive police roundup was the result of two police
investigations, “Project Rush” and “Project Ocean.” Project Rush was put together using what was, at that point, recently adopted federal anti-gang legislation. Investigators and prosecutors built a case geared toward charging gang members with the murder of their rivals, even if they had a limited role the gang's affairs.
The primary target of Project Rush was the Hells Angels whose members were the leaders in the war. The lengthy police investigation involved years of gathering evidence like wiretaps, countless hours of police surveillance and working informants. It began in 1998 with the police zeroing in on people who were members of the Montreal-based organization and its underling gang, the Rockers. For the latter part of the investigation the officers involved were part of Regional Integrated Squad, which grouped together Montreal-area investigators from the
La SÃ»retÃ© du QuÃ©bec and the Montreal Urban Community police. The squad was based on an earlier model called the Wolverine Squad, an elite investigation unit focusing on the biker gang war.
Project Rush spawned another investigation, Project Ocean, during which the police learned how incredibly organized the Hells Angels had become. It was through Project Ocean that police discovered how the gang managed its drug money. Though Project Ocean was an almost accidental offshoot of Project Rush, it produced evidence that led to the arrests of more Hells Angels than any other police operation in Canada in more than a decade.
The end result of these investigations was dubbed “Operation Springtime 2001.” It created a brief void in Montreal's drug trade that year. But the gangsters who were part of the battered and bruised Alliance would regroup and join the Bandidos, an international biker gang similar to the Hells Angels. Sporting new patches, the Bandidos would mount an effort to take over the drug turf abandoned by the jailed Hells Angels. These efforts would be
short-lived since anyone in Quebec associated with the Bandidos was arrested on June 1, 2002, in “Operation Amigo.” This police investigation produced 62 arrest warrants and resulted in charges of drug trafficking and conspiracy to commit murder.
While most Quebecers knew what the biker war was all about, the details that spilled out in the subsequent trials from Project Rush and Project Ocean would raise eyebrows as they revealed just how much money was involved and how fully the Hells Angels assumed they were immune to prosecution. The tough question to answer is how did it all get started, what chain of events could have precipitated a conflict that would end up taking more than 160 lives, including those of several innocent victims? To that end, this book benefits from the notes on a person who was there when it began. More specifically, they are the notes of Dany Kane's handlers in the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. The
began to use Kane as a window into a world to which the police had very little access when the conflict between drug dealers erupted in 1994.
Predictably, Kane's reports to his police handlers clearly included self-serving lies. For example, he tried to pin a murder he himself had committed on someone else through the “tips” he was supplying to the police in 1995. Though they later realized his duplicity, the police were still willing to use Kane as a way to infiltrate the Hells Angels. If one can accept Kane as a partially reliable narrator of the start of the biker war â and there is corroborating evidence to indicate that he was â then his dispatches serve as the most accurate version of what was going on with the Hells Angels in Montreal in 1994.