Bust shows connections in criminal underworld in Canada

A board listing accused drug traffickers and dealers is seen during a news conference by the Surete du Quebec (SQ) police force about 'Operation Loquace', a major drug bust in three provinces, in Montreal November 1, 2012.



MONTREAL -- The drug-related arrests on Thursday in Quebec and Ontario of more than 110 people demonstrated that the country's criminal underworld is as interconnected as it is unstable.

A criminal partnership that started in British Columbia migrated to Quebec last spring and developed ties with several criminal groups in order to distribute Mexican cocaine across the country, Quebec provincial police said after Thursday arrests.

The network was allegedly headed by six people, two of whom, Larry Amero and Shane Kenneth Maloney, were arrested Thursday. The six leaders allegedly have ties to the Hells Angels, the West End Gang, which operates out of Montreal, as well as the Italian mafia, Quebec police said.

While police and crime experts have told QMI Agency that the fall of the Rizzuto mafia family has destabilized Montreal's crime system, similar power struggles are occurring in major cities across the country, said Sgt. Lindsey Houghton, spokesman for BC's Combined Forces Special Enforcement Unit.

"We're seeing a series of interrelated events, shifting gang alliances and new power blocks forming among gangsters here in British Columbia," he told QMI Agency via e-mail. "And that's happening in many areas of the country ... This isn't just a BC problem, it's a problem throughout Canada."

He added that gang members in BC who were once enemies are teaming up to distribute drugs across the country.

Sources told QMI Agency in August that there is evidence the rival-turned-business partner trend is occurring in Montreal as well.

In August, QMI Agency reported that sources said that Gregory Wooley, one of the few Hells Angels members of African descent, was trying to unit several street gangs in the Montreal area. Reputed street-gang leader "Big" Chenier Dupuy was murdered in August after he allegedly refused to cooperate with Wooley, sources said.

Quebec police said the drug ring they dismantled on Thursday was partly formed by BC chapter Hells Angel member Amero, 35, and Maloney, 35, who has reputed ties to Montreal's West End Gang, according to D'Arcy O'Connor, a Montreal journalist who recently finished a book on the city's Irish mob.

O'Connor said that Maloney was known as a "blowhard" and someone who liked to brag about his exploits, as well as claim he was the illegitimate son of former Irish mob kingpin, Peter "Dunie" Ryan.
O'Connor said he's not surprised that the drug ring involved several different criminal networks. He said that the Hells Angels used to distribute cocaine bought by the Rizzuto family that came in through the West End Gang-controlled Port of Montreal.

"Sometimes (criminal networks) are working together and sometimes they are killing each other," O'Connor said.

The revelation Thursday by Quebec police that they seized almost 1,500 sticks of dynamite during the investigation into the suspected drug ring lends more credibility to suggestions that gangs in Montreal might be getting ready to kill each other.

Aside from the instability provoked by the fall of the Rizzuto crime family, QMI Agency reported in July that 10 individuals allegedly flaunting Rock Machine colours were spotted in a downtown Montreal strip club. Montreal is considered territory of the Hells Angels, who fought the Rock Machine between 1994 and 2002, leaving 160 people dead, some by the use of explosives.

Quebec police said that the dynamite seized was stolen in August 2011 from a company called R. Piche Dynamitage north of Montreal.

David Habib, vice-president of the company, said Friday that the commercial value of the dynamite wasn't high, leading him to conclude that it was stolen not for resale but for violence.

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