Saskatoon StarPhoenix

Informant sparks huge Hells Angels bust in Quebec

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MONTREAL (CNS) — The tough shell of secrecy that protected the Hells Angels in Quebec for years finally cracked during an investigat­ion that has produced the arrests of almost the entire membership of the gang in the province.

Canwest News Service has learned the key to the investigat­ion that generated the arrests of 123 people Wednesday in Operation SharQc involved a full-patch member of the gang who turned informant, an extremely rare occurrence in Quebec.

According to two sources familiar with the investigat­ion, Sylvain Boulanger, a former sergeant-at-arms in the gang’s Sherbrooke, Que., chapter, supplied investigat­ors with informa- tion about an important vote the gang’s membership across the province held in July 1994.

Hells Angels across Quebec essentiall­y voted in favour of engaging in the bloody turf war, with rival gangs such as the Rock Machine and Dark Circle, that ran from 1994 to 2002 and involved the deaths of more than 160 people, including several innocent victims.

In past investigat­ions, the Regional Integrated Squads who investigat­e biker gangs could only rely on underlings for inside informatio­n. Having an actual full-patch member supply informatio­n about the gang’s operation has not been witnessed in decades. A few Hells Angels ditched their loyalty to the gang after the 1985 Lennoxvill­e Purge, when the gang killed five of its own members at a bunker near Sherbrooke, Que. But since then, getting a Hells Angel to ditch his colours and turn his back against a gang that demands fierce loyalty appeared to be impossible in Quebec.

Wednesday’s roundup represente­d an unpreceden­ted strike against one of the biggest criminal organizati­ons in the province, with 111 fullpatch Hells Angels arrested or sought on arrest warrants. Members from all five of the gang’s chapters in Quebec are represente­d among the charges filed in Operation SharQc.

The Justice Department placed the gang’s five bunkers, or clubhouses, across the province under seizure orders. Retired gang members were also among those arrested, as were several people described by police as associates of the Hells Angels.

Everyone who appeared in court will remain in custody until they have a bail hearing. The next date in the case is set for Wednesday.

Inall,156peoplea­renamedina­26-pageindict­ment and 115 appeared before a judge. Another eight were already behind bars and many of the remaining 33 people not arrested by late Wednesday afternoon are believed to be in France and Dominican Republic, where the Hells Angels in Quebec recently establishe­d a chapter.

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