Quebec police say they are investigating after hockey legend Guy Lapointe was threatened by Quebec Hells Angels amid a national rise in tensions in the outlaw biker world.
According to Quebec media reports, the Hells Angels motorcycle gang threatened the lives of Insp. Guy Lapointe of the Sûreté du Québec, a provincial police spokesperson on outlaw bikers, and his father, Guy Lapointe Sr., 70, earlier this week.
The senior Lapointe is a member of the Hockey Hall of Fame starred for the Montreal Canadiens in the 1970s as a defenceman, winning six Stanley Cups.
The junior Lapointe has cut a high profile in the Quebec media as a spokesperson on biker issues. He commented frequently in the media in April during a massive police operation against the bikers called Operation Objection, when police arrested more than five dozen people across Quebec.
Insp. Lapointe told Radio-Canada on Saturday he would not be intimidated and would continue to handle his organized crime files. The Sûreté du Québec issued a written statement saying there is an ongoing investigation into threats to one of its spokespeople.
Insp. Lapointe in April told a news conference that police had “dismantled three of the biggest drug trafficking networks in Quebec,” refering to the Hells Angels’ Montreal, South and Trois-Rivières charters. The April arrests hit almost all of the Quebec Hells Angels on the street and a police officer with the Repentigny police force, who allegedly acted as a drug courier. Lapointe said at the time that the drug networks also had tentacles in Ontario and New Brunswick.
The Journal de Montréal reported on Saturday that the threat to the Lapointes was made in the form of a letter received around dinnertime on Thursday, signed “81” — a number used by the Hells Angels to reference their initials. “H” is the eighth letter of the alphabet and “A” is the first.
Since retiring as a player, the senior Lapointe has worked as an NHL assistant coach and scout. He is not involved in policing.
Tensions have been rising between Sûreté du Québec and the Quebec Hells Angels since last fall, when many bikers were freed from custody because of a Supreme Court ruling that requires accused to be brought to trial in a reasonable time.
More than 150 members of the Quebec Hells Angels had been arrested in a 2009 police operation called Project SharQc. They were charged with being part of a murder conspiracy between 1994 and 2002, when Quebec Hells Angels fought with the Rock Machine gang over drug turf and the province reeled from a bloody series of bombings and murders, and unrealized plots to kill a cabinet minister, judges, policemen and journalists.
The Quebec Hells Angels lost all of their clubhouses to seizure or demolition as part of the 2009 Project SharQc operation.
In Ontario, police say the Hells Angels and Outlaws Motorcycle Clubs have increasingly been butting heads, including a tense standoff in Port Dover on Lake Erie at a mass biker party on Friday, July 13.
“It is our belief that tensions are rising in Ontario and nationally,” Det.-Staff Sgt. Anthony Renton of the Ontario Provincial Police Biker Enforcement Unit said in an interview.
The Hells Angels are holding a “National Run” on the August 11 weekend in Saint-Hyacinthe, east of Montreal.
Some 750 bikers connected to the Hells Angels from across Canada are expected at the National Run next month, including some 450 full members and 300 members of affiliated support clubs.
Despite this history of violence in Quebec, Renton said that he didn’t consider the Ontario Hells Angels to be subservient to the Quebec branch of the club.
“I don’t see that Quebec Hells Angels clubs are more powerful than Ontario Hells Angels clubs,” Renton said.
The upcoming Canada Run marks the first time in 10 years that the Canada Run is scheduled to be held in Quebec.
There were no reported incidents in 2008, the last time a Canada Run was held in Quebec, when some 500 bikers attended a campground and motorsport park near Saint-Hyacinthe.
Renton said Hells Angels are involved in trafficking drugs, including cocaine, methamphetamines and fentanyl, the sex trade, moneylaundering and fraud.
The Hells Angels formed a Halifax charter in 1984 but it folded after police raids in 2001.
The Hells Angels stepped up their presence in Nova Scotia in 2013, with the establishment of support clubs, including the Gate Keepers, across the province.
At the same time, the rival Outlaws set up the Black Pistons, a support club, in Nova Scotia.
There’s also a longstanding local club called the Bacchus in the Maritimes.
The Hells Angels set up a Brantford chapter earlier this year. It is supported by a chapter of a junior affiliated club called the Stolen Souls that’s based in nearby Cambridge.
The crowd at the Friday The 13th event in Port Dover was called the biggest in the 37-year history of the biker gathering. Police estimated that it drew 200,000 people to the town of 6,000.