Nov 01 2012
MONTREAL - Police have made scores of arrests against an alleged nationwide narcotics trafficking ring linked to organized crime that made an estimated $50 million in only six months.
Police in Quebec say they've arrested 103 people so far in different parts of the country - including two alleged ringleaders: one in B.C. tied to the Hells Angels and one linked to Montreal's infamous West End Gang.
Police describe the ring as a well-organized criminal consortium including the Hells Angels as well as elements of the Italian and Irish Mafia.
Warrants were issued for 128 people in total and some people remain on the lam, police say. That includes four of the alleged ringleaders.
The accused face a variety of charges including drug trafficking, conspiracy and gangsterism.
Police have seized $255,000 in cash as well as various quantities of cannabis, cocaine and other drugs. They've also seized 13 vehicles and five homes worth about $1.5 million.
Quebec provincial police said earlier Thursday that the operation, dubbed Operation Loquace was, in terms of size and manpower, almost as big as two huge strikes against criminal biker gangs in the province in 2001 and 2009.
Authorities said the searches and arrests were conducted in roughly 30 municipalities in Quebec, Ontario and British Columbia as part of a cross-country operation.
As many as 1,000 police officers were executing the warrants.
Sgt. Daniel Thibaudeau, a provincial police spokesman, said the size of the operation was comparable to Operation Springtime 2001 and Operation SharQC in 2009, both aimed at crippling criminal biker activity.
"An operation of this scope has not been seen in many years,'' Thibaudeau said. "It goes as far as British Columbia and it involves organized crime.''
Quebec provincial police, Montreal police and the RCMP worked in tandem on the investigation.