MONTREAL — nearly 700 members in good standing and “associates” of the Hells Angels are expected by the end of the week in Saint-Charles-sur-Richelieu, in Montérégie, for the grand national rally annual motorcycle club.
The Sûreté du Québec (SQ) promises to monitor closely this annual celebration, which changes from province each year and that is a rite of passage for about 500 full members in the country. Last year the annual “Canada Run” had taken place in Calgary, Alberta, and the version 2016 was held in Carlsbad Springs near Ottawa.
The inspector Guy Lapointe, head of communications at the SQ, explained in a telephone interview that this event will be a demonstration of strength in the face of the authorities and criminal groups, rivals. “This meeting, it is neither more nor less than a demonstration of force, a way of planting a flag and pass a message, for example, criminal organizations competing on the strength of the Hells Angels – but also, I think, a little bit of a taunt to the authorities.”
For police officers, however, this is a unique opportunity to update their “photo albums” and their information on the current members of the Hells and their “associates”.
Mr. Lapointe stated that there will be at Saint-Charles-sur-Richelieu, a strong police presence. The authorities want to ensure that the laws will be respected, and that the population of this small town of 1700 inhabitants will not be exposed. “We are going to be present in large numbers, and we will not tolerate any misconduct, promised Mr. Lapointe. Any offence, whether under the criminal Code or the highway safety Code, municipal by-laws: we will intervene immediately.”
Not haunt in Saint-Charles
This is the first time in 10 years that this annual gathering of the Hells goes to Quebec: in 2008, it had been held in Saint-Pie, near Saint-Hyacinthe, always in the Montérégie region. Many members of the Hells stay in hotels located near Saint-Hyacinthe this year.
The mayor of Saint-Charles-sur-Richelieu, Marc Lavigne, said that officials of the SQ and the royal Canadian mounted police had come to inform citizens and answer their questions at the last meeting of the municipal council.
According to the mayor, the Hells do not have a lair to Saint-Charles: the gathering will take place on land owned by an individual. A representative of the Hells has also communicated with the mayor Lavigne and municipal authorities to know about the various regulations and permits required for such a gathering.
The inspector Lapointe had no specific advice to offer to the citizens, who should go about their business as usual, according to him. He is concerned of the tendency, observed in Ottawa two years ago, which pushes the citizens to take égoportraits with Hells. The veteran police officer sees this as a phenomenon inspired by the tv series “Sons of Anarchy”, which featured a band of motorcycle criminals.
“People have a tendency to forget to what types of violence these people are capable”, said Mr. Lapointe. “Some are too young to remember the war of the bikers in the 1990s, murders of prison guards (…) It is not in a tv series.”
Mr. Lapointe believes that the Hells exert a quasi-monopoly on drug trafficking in Quebec – they would control 98 percent of the market for cocaine and synthetic drugs.