Quebec’s biker war started 25 years ago today

Hells Angels

On July 13, 1994, in the aftermath of an ultimatum issued by the Hells Angels, three men walked into a motorcycle shop on Henri-Bourassa Blvd. E. and killed Pierre Daoust.

“(Quebec’s biker war) was already hatching, but (it started) from July 13 (1994), because that was the first murder — a guy named Pierre Daoust, in his Harley shop, on Henri-Bourassa (Blvd.). And after that, it was clear (the war had begun).”
— Normand Brisebois, a former rival of the Hells Angels, testifying in court in 1996 after becoming an informant in a murder conspiracy case

On July 13, 1994, three men walked into a motorcycle shop on Henri-Bourassa Blvd. E. in Rivière-des-Prairies and killed Pierre Daoust.

Daoust, a 34-year-old member of a Hells Angels support club called the Death Riders, was working in his Custom Cycle shop when the three men, whose faces were hidden by masks and a motorcycle helmet, called out to him twice to make sure they had the right guy. They proceeded to pump at least 16 bullets into Daoust, who was taken to a hospital and declared dead hours later.

Daoust’s murder received little media attention, but to many people involved in drug trafficking in Montreal a very clear message had been sent. In the months leading up to Daoust’s death, the Hells Angels issued an ultimatum: With very few exceptions, anyone dealing drugs in Montreal would have to buy from them, or else.

Several leaders of criminal organizations opposed to the ultimatum met weeks before Daoust was killed. They decided to band together and form a group they called the Alliance. The Alliance’s disdain for the Hells Angels’ monopolistic attitude touched off a conflict that continued until 2002 and resulted in the deaths of more than 160 people, including several innocent victims.

Maurice (Mom) Boucher waves to police officers monitoring the Hells Angels’ Sorel bunker in July 1994.
Maurice (Mom) Boucher waves to police officers monitoring the Hells Angels’ Sorel bunker in July 1994.

The Alliance acted swiftly during the summer of 1994. The day after Daoust was killed, someone tried to kill Normand Robitaille, a member of a Hells Angels support club. He survived the shooting and would go on to become one of the Hells Angels’ most powerful members in Quebec.

On the same day the attempt was made on Robitaille’s life, the Sûreté du Québec announced they had arrested five members of the Rock Machine, one of the dominant groups in the Alliance, after uncovering a plot to blow up the South Shore clubhouse of a Hells Angels support club called the Evil Ones.

On July 15, 1994, two days after Daoust was killed, high-ranking members of the Hells Angels from chapters across Quebec met at a hotel in Longueuil. Five days later, police managed to record video images as several Hells Angels made quick visits to the gang’s bunker in Sorel. With the benefit of hindsight supplied by Sylvain Boulanger — a member of the Hells Angels who became a police informant several years later — the police learned the meetings were used to inform Hells Angels across Quebec that each chapter would have to take a vote on whether or not they wanted to take part in the war.

As the police recorded images of the men who came in and out of the Sorel bunker that day, Maurice (Mom) Boucher, by then a leading member of the gang’s Montreal chapter, noticed he was being filmed. He paused, turned toward the camera and smiled as he waved to the officers.

According to Boulanger, by the end of August 1994 members of all four of the Hells Angels chapters established in Quebec at the time (Montreal, Quebec City, Sherbrooke and Trois-Rivières) voted unanimously in favour of going to war. The vote spread the biker war across Quebec, and meant the Hells Angels’ Montreal chapter had much more support than the Alliance.

Hells Angels Quebec
By the end of August 1994, members of all four Hells Angels chapters established in Quebec at the time voted unanimously in favour of going to war against rival organizations. The conflict continued until 2002 and resulted in more than 160 deaths.

The end of the war came in three stages.

By 1999, the Alliance was left decimated. During the summer of that year, the Rock Machine became probationary members of the Bandidos, a U.S.-based outlaw motorcycle gang that, like the Hells Angels, had chapters all over the world. In the months that followed, the Hells Angels approached the Quebec Bandidos and offered a truce.

The peace offering had an agenda behind it. The Hells Angels in Quebec wanted to prevent the Bandidos from expanding any further in Canada, especially into Ontario. During the fall of 2000, they used the truce as an opportunity to convince several members of the probationary Bandidos to defect to their side.

Despite the defections, on Jan. 6, 2001, the remaining members of the Rock Machine officially joined the Bandidos during a party in Kingston, Ont. Edward Winterhalder, a Bandido at the time, later penned a book titled The Assimilation and wrote that the Bandidos inherited “a disorganized mess.”

On March 28, 2001, the Hells Angels at the centre of the war were dealt a devastating blow as arrests were made in Operation Springtime 2001. Drug trafficking and murder conspiracy charges were filed against Boucher and 41 men who were part of his vast network.

The arrests created a drug trafficking void in parts of Montreal, and whatever remained of the Bandidos jumped in to take over. But an investigation that began in April 2000 — after Boucher’s close friend and fellow Hells Angel Normand (Biff) Hamel was murdered — developed into Operation Amigo, a probe into the entire Quebec Bandidos organization.

On June 5, 2002, charges were filed against 62 people tied to the Bandidos, resulting in a roundup of the gang’s entire membership in Montreal. The arrests put an end to the war because, for the first time since 1994, one entire side of the conflict was behind bars.