Pubdate: Sat, 12 Mar 2005
Source: Windsor Star (CN ON)
Copyright: The Windsor Star 2005
Contact:  http://www.canada.com/windsor/windsorstar/
Details: http://www.mapinc.org/media/501
Author: Kelly Patrick
Bookmark: http://www.mapinc.org/coke.htm (Cocaine)
Bookmark: http://www.mapinc.org/find?188 (Outlaw Bikers)

HELLS ANGELS EXPOSED

Gang Runs Coke Trade: Cops

It's Feb. 19, 4:25 p.m. Martin Dufresne is on the move, heading west on 
Highway 401 near Cornwall. For months, the eyes and ears of the law have 
been fixed on the 39-year-old suspected drug runner for the Hells Angels.

He's not the only one under surveillance.

Using tracking devices hidden in cars, taps on cellphones and a bug in a 
Moy Avenue auto shop, police have stalked the key players in an alleged 
cocaine distribution network led by Windsor's Hells Angels and fed by 
Dufresne's regular deliveries from Sherbrooke, Que., say court documents 
obtained by The Star.

After a year-long investigation dubbed Project Provider, Windsor police and 
their OPP and RCMP colleagues are primed to pounce. On Jan. 28, police had 
obtained a general warrant to search any place Dufresne is suspected to 
stash drugs. His next trip, the one that begins Feb. 19, will be the 
trigger to smash the operation.

After following Dufresne, a barrel-chested man with thinning grey hair, 
through Toronto and London, through Essex County meetings with alleged 
Hells Angels Jose Poulin and Thomas Thibert, police finally nab him in his 
1998 Chevrolet Cavalier as he heads out of the city on the 401 near Tilbury 
at 2:22 p.m. Feb. 21.

A sweeping countywide bust follows.

More than 100 officers from Windsor police, RCMP, OPP and other local 
forces participate.

Three businesses and a dozen mainly middle-class homes in peaceful 
neighbourhoods are raided.

Fifteen people are arrested and charged. Nearly $400,000 in cocaine and 
cash is seized -- including $63,000 stashed in a secret compartment beneath 
Dufresne's passenger-side dash.

Most significantly, an alleged full-patch Angel is arrested. Poulin, a 
tall, olive-skinned Quebecer with a football linebacker's build is charged 
with conspiracy to traffic narcotics.

The busts mark the first significant crackdown on cocaine dealing police 
say is linked to the Hells Angels since the notorious biker gang gained a 
foothold in Windsor in early 2001.

Nearly 400 pages of search warrant documents weave a fascinating tale of 
how the Hells Angels gained a stranglehold on the city's cocaine market and 
co-opted a pair of local alleged Erie Street drug dealers and their 
underlings, including the sister and nephew of one of the ring's top dealers.

But the search warrant documents contain only the police version of the 
story. Defence lawyer Robert DiPietro, who represents most of the accused 
nabbed in the Feb. 21 bust, says his clients are innocent. And none, 
including Poulin, are Hells Angels or work for the notorious gang of outlaw 
bikers, said DiPietro.

"I'm sure that's their theory," he said of police. "But as far as I know, 
none of them are involved in the Hells Angels."

Craig McIlquham, a member of the club, declined comment when reached Friday.

Kirk Munroe, a lawyer representing Dufresne and some of the other 
defendants, said police have a self-interest in touting the "great 
significance" of their latest arrest.

"Although I have not yet seen the evidence police claim to have, I do know 
after more than 30 years of practice that police departments everywhere 
tend to exaggerate the nature and strength of their case," Munroe said.

"Too many times, police crow about their case on arrest only to eat crow 
later on. We'll see just how significant this case is when tested in a 
courtroom."

What follows is an account of the investigation based on court documents 
accessible to the public and prepared by the police to obtain search warrants.

* * *

The world's largest and most notorious outlaw motorcycle gang began its 
push into Windsor in the late 1990s. At the time the city was home to at 
least two "one-percenter" motorcycle clubs -- so-called because they 
consider themselves among the one per cent of bikers who eschew society's 
rules. The Lobos and the Outlaws each boasted a handful of local members. 
In reach and potency, they paled in comparison to the Angels.

In September of 1999, four Quebec-based Angels paid a visit to a weekend 
biker party hosted by the Windsor Lobos at their old Provincial Road 
clubhouse. Among the visitors was Richard Ouellette, a high-ranking Angel 
the court documents and police sources say sponsored the Windsor chapter.

Rubbing shoulders with existing biker gangs was key to the Angels' strategy 
in Ontario. Their protracted war with rival Quebec outlaws, a bloody feud 
that left more than 100 people dead, taught them to co-opt existing gangs, 
not battle them, wherever they could.

The Angels' Ontario recruiting drive culminated in an unprecedented 
"patch-over" ceremony at their Sorel, Que., bunker on Dec. 29, 2000. 
Normally, earning full-patch status takes a minimum of four years, said 
RCMP Sgt. Jean-Pierre Levesque, the national co-ordinator on outlaw 
motorcycle gangs for Criminal Intelligence Service Canada.

"It's not just an overnight promotion that you get," he said in an 
interview. "You have to be sponsored by an actual member of the Hells 
Angels who has known you for many years." Then wannabe members must spend 
at least a year at each of three preliminary levels -- first "friend," then 
"hangaround" and finally "prospect" before earning full-patch status.

But the 179 Ontario members of the Lobos, Para-Dice Riders, Satan's Choice 
and Last Chance biker gangs who switched allegiances at the December 2000 
patch-over bypassed the normally rigorous entry process. In an instant, 
they became full-patch Angels.

Seven Windsor Lobos were reportedly among them. Less than two months later 
the Angels hung their winged and grinning death-head insignia outside the 
old Lobos compound on Provincial Road at the Sixth Concession. It was a 
smooth and bloodless transition barely noticed by anyone but police.

A Windsor police source said at least three long-time local Lobos who 
patched over in 2000 -- 50-year-old John Muzzatti, 50-year-old Serge Cattai 
and 54-year-old Thomas Thibert -- remain full members of the Windsor 
chapter. Three other locals and Quebecer Poulin, whom court documents say 
Ouellette dispatched to Windsor to found the local chapter, round out the 
club. In 2003, Windsor's Angels moved to a new fenced compound at 7893/7895 
Howard Ave. in Amherstburg.

When the Angels settled in Essex County, it was expected they would try to 
monopolize the sale of cocaine.

As one Windsor officer alleges in an application to obtain a warrant to 
search the home of alleged mid-level dealer Salvatore Briguglio: "I know 
from my involvement in the Biker Enforcement Unit and through discussions 
with informants that the Hell's (sic) Angels want to be the only "business" 
in town. Once the Hell's (sic) Angels learn that someone is selling cocaine 
other that (sic) theirs, they approach that person and give them several 
options. The options being they begin to sell Hell's (sic) Angels cocaine, 
they get taxed on selling cocaine supplied by someone else or they 
completely stop selling cocaine. Assaults on persons are known to happen if 
they don't comply."

That's part of what makes the Hells Angels worse for Windsor than 
run-of-the-mill drug dealers, said Julian Sher, who along with co-author 
William Marsden is researching a second book on the outlaw gang due this 
spring.

"The Hells Angels ... bring a level of intimidation and violence," he said. 
"There have been drive-by shootings in Manitoba. We had the huge biker war 
in Quebec. So the Hells Angels are much more vicious (than other dealers.)"

Among the Windsorites who agreed to deal for the Angels, police allege, 
were 38-year-old Carmen Amante and 27-year-old Attilio Montaleone.

Amante doesn't work, yet lives "well beyond his means," the documents say. 
His South Windsor home boasts an inground pool and handsome landscaping. 
Expensive hangings drape his walls and a pool table, bar and big screen TV 
fill his basement, say the documents. According to the documents, Amante, 
Montaleone and others cut, pressed and packaged the cocaine they received 
from Dufresne at Prestia Automotive, a Moy Avenue auto shop the court 
documents say is little more than a front for a drug-processing operation. 
The court documents say Amante owns a 50 per cent stake in Prestia Automotive.

On June 30, 2004, armed with a warrant to search Prestia without its 
owners' knowledge, Windsor police found a suspected cocaine press, boxes of 
multi-purpose bags, zip-lock plastic bags, an automatic money counter, an 
American currency counterfeit detector, and a large bundle of $100 bills. 
They didn't find any drugs. But an officer swabbed samples from 20 
locations around the shop, 18 of which later tested positive for cocaine 
residue.

After readying the illicit narcotics for sale, the court documents allege, 
Amante paid his 36-year-old sister Rita Payne and her 38-year-old husband, 
Wilf, a former Windsor Spitfire, $800 a month to store the illicit 
narcotics in their upscale home on South Windsor's Maguire Street. Filippo 
Polifroni, 62, served as the operation's bookkeeper, tracking what it 
collected and what it was owed by its army of dealers, the court documents say.

All were charged with conspiracy to traffic narcotics after the Feb. 21 
raids. Police seized more than four pounds of cocaine worth $327,000 at the 
Paynes' house.

Intertwined with their cocaine dealing, Montaleone and Amante ran a 
lucrative sports betting operation, police allege. They're facing 
bookmaking charges, along with 24-year-old Jason Giorgi, who turned himself 
in the day after the big bust.

"Interceptions have shown that, on a regular basis, Montaleone accepted 
wagers from his customers on major sporting events such as NFL football, 
college football, college basketball, NBA basketball, and horse racing from 
several horse race tracks in the Province of Ontario," reads one court 
document.

Montaleone and Amante use their gaming profits to prop up the cocaine 
dealing operation, say the documents.

Four of the others arrested Feb. 21 and charged with conspiracy to traffic 
cocaine, including Amante's nephew, Randy Darocy, 26, of LaSalle, Kevin 
Jovetic, 31, Antonio Desantis, 53, and Briguglio, 59, all of Windsor, are 
"mid-level dealers," said the police source.

Guiseppe Manzoni, 37, of Essex, Robert Petley, 40 and his brother 
Christopher Petley, 43, of Windsor were charged the day of the bust with 
weapons offences related to their joint ownership of a single gun seized in 
the raid on Prestia Automotive.

The documents show some of the network's main players suspected police were 
watching. They conducted their deals in code, often shrouding them in 
auto-shop jargon to try to fool police. Orders and debts recorded in a 
Prestia log book were listed as gallons of paint, for example.

Beginning Nov. 5, 2004, police eavesdropped on Amante, Montaleone and 
Poulin by tapping their cellphones and installing a voice probe inside 
Prestia Automotive. They picked up exchanges like this one in Italian on 
Dec. 14 at 1:44 p.m, after Amante asked Briguglio to swing by the auto shop.

Amante: "I got to look at that bumper again we got to re-paint it."

Briguglio: "Oh you gotta paint?"

A police transcriber then offered his interpretation of what was really 
going on.

"I believe that Amante is telling Briguglio that he has cocaine for him," 
the officer wrote. "Drug traffickers will often use coded terminology in an 
attempt to avoid detection by the police. In this case I believe Amante is 
using terms such as 'paint' and 'bumper' in an attempt to mask the 
conversation."

After the conversation, Briguglio visited Prestia. When he returned to his 
apartment at 1400 Ouellette Ave., an officer parked in the underground lot 
spied his 2003 Jeep Grand Cherokee. There was no damage or fresh paint on 
its bumpers, the court documents say.

Armed with reams of wiretap transcripts like these, surveillance records 
and informant statements, police and prosecutors will now try to win their 
court case against the ring and establish its connection to the Hells Angels.

That may not be easy.

"It's rare that a full-patch member gets his hands dirty directly," said 
Sher. "Even once you have the evidence, it can be difficult and painstaking 
to get convictions."

Sher cited cases like that of Francisco (Chico) Pires and Ronaldo Lising, a 
pair of Vancouver Hells Angels found guilty of conspiring to traffic in 
cocaine, trafficking in cocaine and possession of proceeds of crime valued 
at more than $1,000. Police began investigating the pair in 1996 and 
arrested them in 1998. Their conviction in January 2001 marked the first 
victory for B.C. prosecutors against members of the motorcycle gang, but 
Pires and Lising have since appealed.

For larger biker busts, the sheer volume of evidence and arrests poses a 
challenges for the courts. Still, Canada's police and prosecutors are, 
slowly, making some headway against the Angels.

According to RCMP figures as of July 2004, Quebec has proved the most 
successful with roughly 65 per cent of the gang's 132 Quebec full-patch 
members, prospects and hangarounds behind bars or before the courts. In 
Ontario, where the Angels are strongest, 38 of 244 members, prospects and 
hangarounds are either incarcerated or charged. From Manitoba west 24 of 
the club's 185 members, prospects and hangarounds were either jailed or 
awaiting court appearances.

Everyone charged in the Feb. 21 busts has been released on bail. Their bail 
hearings last week made headlines when former Detroit Red Wings enforcer 
Bob Probert showed up in the courtroom.

Windsor police Sgt. John St. Louis said he couldn't comment on the ongoing 
investigation. "However, we do expect to lay further charges against other 
individuals."

- - - -

THE HELLS ANGELS IN CANADA

"The Hell's Angels remain the largest and most powerful outlaw motorcycle 
gang in Canada with 34 (of which two in Quebec are currently inactive) 
chapters across the country comprising approximately 500 members."

Alberta: three chapters

Saskatchewan: two chapters

Manitoba: one chapter

Quebec: five chapters

Ontario: sixteen chapters, including one in Windsor and one opened recently 
in Hamilton.

British Columbia: seven chapters

- - Source: Criminal Intelligence Service of Canada, 2004 annual report on 
Organized Crime in Canada
- ---
MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom