Operation Axe nets 47 arrests; more to come, say Police
Published Friday, February 13, 2009 11:25AM EST
At least 47 people were arrested Thursday in a series of raids across Quebec and Ontario that netted outlaw bikers and street gang members, plus a former Olympic weightlifter as well as an associate of former Hells Angels boss Mom Boucher.
Operation Axe was executed by 700 officers from the Montreal Police, the RCMP, the SQ, Ottawa Police and a number of other police forces. Raids were carried out in Montreal, Laval, Longueil in Quebec, and in Ottawa and Kingston in Ontario. They started pre-dawn on Thursday.
In the course of the raids, police seized:
- 11 kg of hash
- More than 40 kg of cocaine
- 2,300 rocks of crack
- 225 kg of marijuana
- A mix of pills including speed, Viagra and ecstacy
- Computers, BlackBerries and cell phones
- Bullet-proof vests
- About $60,000 in cash
- 25 weapons, plus ammunition
Those arrested Thursday are expected to appear in court on Friday on charges of gangsterism, arms possession, trafficking cocaine, production of crack, and conspiring to import cocaine.
One of those arrested was Jean Laverture, a professional weight lifter who competed for Canada in the 1996 Athens Olympics. His gym in Verdun was also raided.
Sixty arrest warrants were issued. Police say they anticipate more arrests.
This is the largest police operation since 2001's biker raids. That sweep involved 1,700 officers and shook the structure of some of Quebec's most infamous gangs.
The groups targeted in that operation have been restructured in recent years, and Thursday's operation was intended to once again cripple the criminal networks.
Operation Axe began in January of 2006.
Two arrested in prison
One suspect was arrested in a Laval prison and another arrest involved a suspect who was already in prison in Kingston, Ont. He is onetime street-gang member and biker Gregory "Picasso" Wooley, who has been in prison for several years on multiple murder and gangsterism charges.
Wooley worked his way up from a street gang to become a full-patch member of the Rockers, a puppet club of the Hells Angels. Mom Boucher personally awarded the Rockers patch to Wooley and the two became close associates.
Will raids work?
Investigative reporter and author Julian Sher says criminal gangs will endure, though he acknowledges Thursday's raids are a serious blow to the gangs.
"It's much more of a one two punch," Sher told CTV News. "Going after not just the Hells Angels but also their key street gangs in Montreal and around the city that are bringing drugs into our streets."