Amid a massive Hells Angels comeback in Quebec, bikers are flooding bars in Montreal, putting pressure on owners who are scared to kick them out, French media reports.
Enter Operation Synergy — a pilot project launched this week that will see cops barging into Montreal’s bars this weekend to chase the bikers out.
The Sûreté du Québec provincial police force has already targeted about 50 different bars where bikers have become a problem, sending in crews of up to 20 cops to boot out the Hells Angels. Police say the outlaw biker gang has become an increasing problem for bar owners and customers since the bikers escaped conviction in a massive failed police operation, and are now enjoying their freedom.
“Imagine you are a bar keeper and 12 Hell’s Angels are coming to your establishment,” Benoît Dubé, the Sûreté du Québec inspector responsible for fighting organized crime, told LaPresse newspaper. “Are you still a decision maker in your bar? No. And if you call the police, are they trained to do business with these guys? Not always. This is the raison d’être of Synergy.”
Dubé says bikers are flooding the bars, and regular customers are intimidated, so they stay away. He said police are forming an alliance with bar owners and bouncers to fight back against the bikers.
Synergy has three teams stocked with intelligence officers, investigators and patrol officers. It is also collaborating with other police forces, including the RCMP.
If a bar is owned by organized crime, Dubé says police can enforce the Liquor Offences Act, which allows them to hand out tickets.
VICE News requested more information about operation Synergy from Sûreté du Québec, but did not receive a response by deadline.
But as VICE reported last fall, the recent flood of bikers into Montreal bars is due to a massive police failure from several years ago: Operation SharQc.
In April 2009, after a three-year investigation, more than a thousand cops were deployed in 177 separate raids to arrest and charge 156 bikers and associates in what was called Operation SharQc.
SharQc landed in court as a complex mega trial. But the high number of defendants and huge volume of evidence crippled the court’s capacity to handle the charges in a timely manner. Out of those 156 people, the vast majority were released or had their sentences significantly reduced because of delays or evidence being withheld by prosecutors.
Those released bikers are now celebrating in bars all over Quebec, where Synergy will soon start kicking in doors.