(This column was published in the North Shore News on July 21, 1999)

 

Hellís Angelís case frustrates police

By Leo Knight

A couple of months ago, a police officer was talking to me about the strange case of Jacques "Israel" Emond, a full member of the Sherbrooke (Quebec) chapter of the Hells Angels and now living in Burnaby.  

 

The officer told an extraordinary story of frustration felt by the police in his case.  

 

Emond pleaded guilty to two counts of trafficking in cocaine. As a result of the plea arrangement, other charges were dropped. He was sentenced to nine years in jail and after his first year, he was transferred to a B.C. prison.  

 

In 1991 he was paroled and he obtained conditional variances to attend SFU.  

 

In 1993 he was arrested by the RCMP on an extradition warrant emanating from indictments in Florida on two conspiracy charges and racketeering under the American federal RICO legislation used to fight organized crime. The indictments allege he was part of a criminal conspiracy to traffic and import narcotics between 1976 and 1991.  

 

While he was on bail on the extradition warrant, he was arrested in 1995 at Dorval airport in Montreal carrying approximately $50,000 in cash.  

 

Emond fought the extradition warrant and in 1997 the extradition request was quashed by federal Justice Minister Anne McLellan.  

 

At the time, Emond's lawyer, Ken Westlake, who regularly acts for Hells Angels, said the 1987 plea agreement included outstanding charges in the U.S.  

 

At the time Westlake argued the Canadian government should have quashed the extradition warrant when it was received. According to Westlake the U.S. Customs service and the Canadian government were part of the plea agreement. He was quoted in media reports at the time saying, "This sentence was one that was agreed to by all parties."  

 

The DEA and the Department of Justice lawyers in Florida say the customs official didn't have the authority to speak for them and wasn't privy to the investigation in question. They also allege that Emond was part of the continued conspiracy through to 1992, even when he was in jail, and the continuation of the offence negates any deal made in 1987. Sounds like a reasonable argument to me.  

 

While on parole, the police say he continued to associate with members of the Hells Angels, a violation of his parole. He worked at Hiway Choppers, which is owned by John Peter Bryce, who police claim is the president of the East End Chapter of the Angels.  

 

Police sources claim Emond is every bit as active as ever and still wears Sherbrooke colours at club functions.  

 

Given that the Hells Angels own rules say members must live in their area of influence and attend regular club meetings, the fact that Emond is still here wearing Quebec colours demonstrates the influence and power he has in the organization.  

 

In late May, after unsuccessful attempts to get information from the justice ministry, I spoke to West Vancouver-Sunshine Coast MP and Reform Justice critic John Reynolds about the matter.  

 

So Reynolds waded in. Numerous phone messages were followed with letters demanding answers and finally, he was given a response last week.  

 

The answer provided essentially said it was a dead issue. Reynolds asked why an active member of the Hells Angels was being shielded from U.S. justice based on what appears to be a flawed plea agreement.  

 

He was told, "if you can provide any information or evidence on Mr. Emond's continuing involvement in illegal or criminal activities, the minister would look into the situation."  

 

Huh?  

 

This would appear to mean as far as the minister is concerned Emond is nicely re-habilitated and no longer involved with the outlaw motorcycle gang. According to the police this is ludicrous.  

 

Let's look at an excerpt from the RCMP Gazette. "Make no mistake about it, bikers are now as sophisticated as the old organized crime families.  

 

"They are far more prone to violence when provoked, and certainly more arrogant.  

 

"They seldom miss an opportunity to make money or to kill someone in the way of profits.  

 

"The more illegal the scam, the more it is preferred. If you can rip off society and put one over on the establishment in the process, that's showing class"  

 

CISC's (Criminal Intelligence Services Canada) own report to the House of Commons states "drug trafficking is the most lucrative activity for criminal motorcycle gangs. This is particularly true of the Hells Angels who, thanks to support from their affiliated clubs, are a major distributor and seller of drugs from coast to coast."  

 

Who is the minister trying to kid by asking for information or evidence from Reynolds? All she need do is read the reports that surely cross her desk to know what's going on. Or, before deciding on something like the extradition request on very serious charges, ask someone who knows about these things.  

 

The American justice officials are still shaking their heads over this case.  

 

Anyone smell a cover-up?  

 

  -30-

 

 

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