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9 suspects charged in major operation targeting Quebec organized crime, drug territory war

Nine suspects have been charged, four more have been arrested and two warrants have been issued in what authorities call a large-scale operation targeting organized crime in Quebec City this weekend.

About 100 officers from specialized units from various police forces in the province were deployed. Led by the Sûreté du Québec (SQ), raids began Friday evening at multiple establishments in and around the capital city targeting those involved in conflicts between drug-dealing street gangs and more established biker gangs.

The ongoing conflict has resulted in a worrying uptick in violence. Incidents included a hostage-taking on Monday in St-Malachie, Que., south of Quebec City. Two people with ties to the Hells Angels were allegedly kidnapped and tortured and a third person was killed.

Authorities say the violence is linked to a drug-trafficking territory war in the Quebec City area, the Saguenay-Lac-St-Jean region, the Lower St-Lawrence and the North Shore.

Nine suspects charged, prosecution objects to their release

According to crown prosecutors officeFrancis Gauthier-Marcoux, 33, and Bianca Simard have been charged with attempted murder by firearm, assault and conspiracy to commit criminal acts.

Three charges were laid against Andréanne Dominique, 37, Dave Galienne-Picard, 30, Evan Lavoie, 21, and Rémi Fournier, 38, for kidnapping, forcible confinement and aggravated assault.

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Charlotte Montambault-Vaillancour, 32, was charged with three counts of possession of drugs for the purpose of trafficking.

Maxime Maheux, 26, faces two counts of arson while Nicholas Coté, 45, has been charged with conspiracy to commit an indictable offence and arson.

The prosecution objected to the release of all nine suspects and their cases were postponed until Feb. 28 for further proceedings.

‘They don’t care about traditional organized crime’

The charges, which come just a day before the SQ announced more related arrests, “won’t stop until we put an end to the violence we’re seeing,” said SQ Lieutenant Benoit Richard.

The SQ provincial police are working with the RCMP and local police forces from Quebec City, Lévis and Saguenay.

The SQ said the weekend’s events had the goal of sending a very clear message to criminal gangs: “We’re going to go after all the people who commit these crimes and we’re going to take them to court.”

Quebec’s public security minister François Bonnardel issued a statement Saturday saying the operation showed the seriousness with which authorities were devoted to the fight against organized crime.

Former Montreal Police detective Pietro Poletti told Global News that the street gangs in Quebec are a serious problem, partially due to their lack of respect for the more established criminal groups.

“These young adults have no notion of what organized crime is. They weren’t even born in the year 2000 for the most part. They don’t care about traditional organized crime or the Hells Angels.”

He said the fight between “local gangs, clans and street thugs will only get worse with immigration from South America, Eastern Europe and the Middle East.”

“These people grew up with violence at a very young age, so they aren’t impressed. The only way to stop this is to put the right people at the right place.”

Poletti spoke to Global News from Rome, where he said random police checks and roadblocks were very frequent, and in his view, one of the ways to combat the issue.

“When there’s a lot of violence on the streets, those who complain about police racism (with regards to random police checks) stay quiet.”

He added that police and politicians have to stop being reactive with “these types of show-of-force operations — a smokescreen responding to the outcry in the media.”

Combatting crime must be done on a daily, constant, proactive basis he said.

Back in June of 2023, a report commissioned by the Montreal police concluded that random police checks disproportionately target racialized minorities with little to no evidence that the practice reduced criminality.

–with files from The Canadian Press

&copy 2024 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.


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