Pubdate: Thu, 19 Jan 2006
Source: Globe and Mail (Canada)
Copyright: 2006, The Globe and Mail Company
Author: Timothy Appleby
Bookmark: (Outlaw Bikers)
Bookmark: (Cocaine)


Cambridge Entrepreneur, Others Arrested; $1.5-Million Worth Of 
Cocaine Is Seized

CAMBRIDGE, ONT. -- As snow and wind whipped across Waterloo 
International Airport's runway yesterday morning, a Hells Angels 
kingpin was bundled aboard an OPP aircraft in handcuffs and flown to 
Thunder Bay -- which police say is the hub of an Angels-orchestrated 
cocaine distribution network that has supplied Northern Ontario for years.

The early-morning arrest of entrepreneur Andre Watteel, former 
president of the Angels' Kitchener chapter and long a local fixture 
in sleepy Cambridge, was part of a wave of arrests that encompasses 
dozens of charges from Montreal to Calgary.

Dishevelled after being roused from his comfortable, ranch-style home 
on the outskirts of town, Mr. Watteel appeared perplexed as he was 
led from a Waterloo Regional Police cruiser into the Swiss-built 
Pilatus PC-12 for the two-hour trip north, his feet shackled to the 
aircraft floor.

"Who's the photo guy?" he asked as he shielded his face from a camera.

Arrest warrants were issued for 22 other people, including four 
full-patch members of Thunder Bay's small Hells Angels chapter. Some 
suspects were still being sought last night, but all five bikers were 
behind bars.

Cocaine worth an estimated $1.5-million was also seized, together 
with handguns, rifles and about $100,000 in cash.

More unusual, the alleged network was brought down after the 
successful infiltration of the Thunder Bay Hells Angels by a police 
agent who spent nearly two years undercover.

How did he gain their trust?

"It was a simple fact of having something they wanted -- a 
commodity," said a source within Ontario's biker enforcement unit, a 
joint forces group led by the Ontario Provincial Police. "We provided 
them with that commodity. This shows that these guys are not 
untouchable; they are not beyond infiltration."

Wiretaps were also deployed.

Details of the police operation -- dubbed Project Husky and aided by 
the RCMP, Thunder Bay police, OPP and the Surete du Quebec -- are to 
be announced in Thunder Bay this morning.

Mr. Watteel, 53, is not accused of any drug offences; the four 
charges he faces involve fraud and stolen property.

He was flown to Thunder Bay to be formally charged because it was 
alleged that midway through the cocaine investigation, it became 
apparent that the city's Hells Angels were involved in property transactions.

Cocaine, however, was the focus of yesterday's raids. The police 
source said the fact that Thunder Bay was the base of the alleged 
trafficking operation, five years after the Angels expanded into 
Ontario from Quebec, was a sign of the times.

"The Hells Angels have been increasing their influence throughout 
Northern Ontario -- something that historically we have not seen," 
the source said. "So this is significant because it will cause 
substantial disruption to the cocaine trade in the north."

Word of the arrests spread quickly, and the Hells Angels announced it 
on their website.

"We've had a lot of calls from lawyers already, with people wanting 
to turn themselves in," the source said.

Organized-crime charges have also been laid, but they do not name the 
Hells Angels. Rather, the charges simply target instances where three 
or more people were alleged to have worked together to sell drugs.

In the charges, the non-Angels are not described as "associates," 
which denotes a specific status within the organization. Instead, 
they are, for the most part, described as drug sellers who worked in 
conjunction with the Angels rather than being affiliated with them.

Mr. Watteel, by contrast, has been a full-fledged Hells Angel since 
he and fellow Satan's Choice bikers "patched over" to the Angels in 
an elaborate ritual at the end of 1999.

And despite the group's reputation, it might come as a surprise to 
Cambridge and Kitchener residents that Mr. Watteel faces two counts 
of fraud, one count of possession of stolen property and one count of 
conspiracy to possess stolen property.

Along with his motorcycles, Mr. Watteel owns a restaurant and a bar 
in Cambridge and a string of residential properties.

Until recently, he was president of the 11-member Kitchener chapter 
of the Hells Angels. (He was also at one time provincial secretary 
for the Ontario Hells Angels.)

But last year he was voted out, and since then has been a 
rank-and-file member, a local law-enforcement source said.

What has not changed, however, is Mr. Watteel's long-time image as a 
useful citizen -- a family man who sponsored minor sports teams, 
organized Cambridge's summer musical festival and provided turkey 
dinners for the needy at Christmas.

"From what I understand, they're business people," Cambridge Mayor 
Doug Craig said a couple of years ago of the Hells Angels.
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