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Wednesday, 4 November 2009

Hells Angels bullied their way into legitimate businesses and used them for money-laundering

Hells Angels bullied their way into legitimate businesses and used them for money-laundering. The arrests helped underscore the towering scale of an ongoing scandal in Quebec over the construction industry’s criminal underbelly. The arrests were completely separate from Operation Hammer, the high-profile probe into allegations of Mafia-related activity that have rocked the industry and the province’s political class.
The arrests Tuesday stemmed from an earlier probe into just one network, in just one criminal organization — the Hells biker gang. Police told a news conference that they began their investigation into the Hells’ construction ties in March, and had issued 20 arrest warrants since then for crimes ranging from extortion, to uttering threats, to money-laundering. They arrested 10 people Tuesday in the final phase of that investigation, dubbed Operation Diligence. A police spokesman said four other people were still being sought on warrants and remained on the lam.

Quebec’s construction industry has come under heavy scrutiny more recently, amid reports of companies colluding to boost the cost of construction projects, then funding political parties and sharing their profits with the Mafia.

Those allegations caused the provincial government to launch a separate investigation — Operation Hammer — last month.

The earlier investigation — Operation Diligence — stemmed from a crackdown on the Hells Angels last spring. Provincial police began investigating biker activity in the industry for the purpose of money-laundering.

Tuesday’s arrests are being linked to Normand Marvin “Casper“ Ouimet, an alleged Hells Angels member wanted for first-degree murder, conspiracy to commit murder and gangsterism. He remains at large.

Police say Ouimet, 39, is a player in Quebec’s construction and masonry industry.

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