West End Gang

The West End Gang (French: Gang de l'ouest) is a Canadian organized crime group. Active since the early 1900s and still active today, the gang one of Canada's most influential organized crime groups. The West End Gang's criminal activities are focused on, but not restricted to, the west side of Montreal, Quebec, and most of the group's earnings in the early days were derived from truck hijackings, home invasions, kidnapping, protection rackets, drug trafficking, extortion, and armed robbery.[4]

West End Gang
Founded1900s
Founding locationMontreal, Quebec, Canada
Years active1900s–present
TerritoryGreater Montreal
EthnicityPredominantly Irish Canadian and French Canadian
Membership (est.)125–150 members and associates[1]
Leader(s)Frank Ryan
Allan Ross
Gerald Matticks
ActivitiesDrug trafficking, contract killing, extortion, racketeering, illegal gambling, gun-running, prostitution, and money laundering
AlliesCali Cartel[2]
Cotroni crime family
Hells Angels MC
Irish Republican Army
Rizzuto crime family
Rock Machine MC[3]
Notable membersRichard Blass
Raymond Desfossés
Gérald Gallant

HistoryEdit

The gang, which originated in the early 20th century, was known at first as the Irish Gang, and the name West End Gang seems to have been adopted in the late 1970s.[5] A disproportionate number of the gang's members come from the mostly Irish-Canadian Pointe-Saint-Charles district of Montreal.[6]

From the 1950s to the 1970s, Montreal was known as the "Bank Robbery capital of North America" as Montreal had more bank robberies than any other city in North America.[7] The journalist D'Arcy O'Connor used as an example that in the six months between January-June 1969, Montreal had 51 bank robberies with only a quarter were the thieves being arrested while the city of Los Angeles had 36 bank robberies in the period January-June 1969 with 60% of the thieves being arrested.[8] Accordingly to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Los Angeles was the American city with the highest number of bank robberies in 1969.[9] The West End Gang were some of the most successful bank robbers in Montreal in this period.[9] Montreal's status as the "Bank Robbery capital of North America" was largely due to the light sentences handed by Quebec courts, which normally gave only 5 years in prison for convicted thieves as compared to the 20 years in prison normally handed down by American courts, which allowed the gangs of Montreal to build up a cadre of experienced thieves.[9] The largest bank robbery ever in Canadian history adjusted for inflation, namely the theft of some $20, 000 in cash from the vault of the Brockville Trust & Saving Company in Brockville on 4 May 1958 was a joint operation of the West End Gang and the Cotroni family.[10] Commander André Bouchard of the Montreal police stated about the West End Gang that they: "...weren't thugs selling drugs on the street like the French and the Italians...They had the best safecrackers and the best hijackers. Some of those guys were sixteen years old and today they're still at it".[11]

Typical of the West End Gang members were William "Billy" Morgan who was born in poverty to Irish-Canadian parents in Montreal in 1935 and grew up in a broken home, leading him to boast in a 2008 interview: "I was a thief by the age of seven".[11] Being being placed "in care" in various foster homes, Morgan joined the West End Gang as a teenager and boasted: "Back then, I could open any lock or crack any safe and I did a lot of that. I had a knack for it".[11]

In the 1960s, West End Gang hitman Richard Blass was involved in minor fights with many Mafiosi, particularly those related to Frank Cotroni and brothers Joe and Vincenzo Di Maulo, all of whom received death threats from Blass.[12] In the 1970s, the gang took control of the Port of Montreal, which allowed them to import drugs.[13]

Several of the West End Gang robberies lead to deaths. In an attempted robber of a branch of the Bank of Montreal on the Beaver Hall Hill on 30 April 1971 led to a shoot-out with Raymond Lynch of the West End Gang being shot dead by the bank security guards together with an innocent by-stander Corrado Festa who was killed when he was caught in the cross-fire.[14] On 12 September 1973, a group of West End Gang thieves led by William "Billy" MacAllister attempted to rob a Brinks armored car that again led to a shoot-out that led one of the Brinks guards, Claude Vienneau being shot and bleeding to death on the street as the robbers fled with some $278, 000 in cash from the armored car.[15] The most successful robbery committed by the West End Gang in Montreal was the theft of some $2, 275, 884 in cash together with golden Olympic coins worth $5, 000 dollars from a Brinks armored car took on 30 March 1976.[16] In April 1976, the Montreal police formed a special squad known as the "Rubber Duck Squad" led by detective André Savard whose solo task was to hunt down those involved in the Brinks robbery of 30 March 1976.[17] On 14 May 1976, a West End Gang member involved in the Brinks robbery, John Slawvey, was killed in a shoot-out with Savard who was attempting to arrest him on charges of robbery.[18] On the night after Slawvey's killing, Savard was phoned by the lawyer Sidney Leithman who told him: "There's a lot of talk going and I think you should be careful, André. There's a lot of people not happy and you can push only so much...call this a warning if you want, but be careful and take care".[19] Savard heard rumors that the West End Gang leader Frank Ryan had placed a $50, 000 contract on his life, which caused to live under armed guard for some time afterwards.[20]

The gang, which is dominated by – but not exclusively limited to – members of Irish descent, began to import hashish[4][21] and cocaine[4][21][22] and developed important contacts in the United States,[4] South America[22] and Europe with some members working out of Florida.[23]

Since that time, the gang has formulated ties to the Montreal Mafia,[4] the Cosa Nostra, the Hells Angels,[4][22] and Colombian cartels.[24][25][26] The three Montreal organizations (West End Gang, Montreal Mafia, Hells Angels) make up the "Consortium"[27] (similar to New York City's "Commission") and, together, the three groups' leaders fix the price of drugs for the wholesale and retail markets. The majority of the drugs smuggled through Montreal are ultimately retailed in the United States, with the small remainder being distributed across Canada. Police estimate that over a 15-year span from the late 1970s to the early 1990s, the gang trafficked more than 40 tons of cocaine and 300 tons of hashish, with an estimated street value of $150 billion. In 1997, the federal government disbanded the National Ports Police as a cost-saving measure, which has greatly aided the work of the West End Gang.[28]

Over the years many members have been murdered or convicted of murder, most notably the 1984 assassination of one time mob boss Frank "Dunie" Ryan.[4] Subsequent revenge killings weeks later are believed to have been organized by replacement leader Allan "The Weasel" Ross.[4] Under Ross' leadership, the West End Gang formed a partnership with a Florida-based cell of the Cali Cartel, transporting kilograms of cocaine into Canada via Nashville, Tennessee.[2] After Ross was convicted in 1992, leadership of the West End Gang was assumed by Gerald "Big Gerry" Matticks.[29]

In 2003 onetime gang associate Peter MacAllister wrote a novel called Dexter based on real stories from the gang.[30]

In 2005, a 300 kilogram shipment of a total 1,300 kilograms of cocaine, co-organized by Rizzuto crime family confidante, Francesco Del Balso and West End Gang member, Richard Griffin, was intercepted in Boucherville, Quebec by police. After Griffin invested $1.5 million in the purchase and transportation of the cocaine, he demanded $350,000 from the Rizzutos for not taking preventive measures in transporting the drugs. After arguments about the debts, Griffin was killed by gunfire outside his home in Notre-Dame-de-Grâce on July 12, 2006.[31]

Montreal police estimate that the West End Gang currently consists of approximately 125 to 150 members and associates. The group often collaborates with the Montreal Mafia and the Hells Angels in enormous drug shipments and remains one of the most powerful and profitable criminal organizations in the country.[32]

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ West End Gang oocities.org/
  2. ^ a b Irish Mafia Don “The Weasel” Dead At 74, Montreal Drug Lord Dies In U.S. Prison System Scott Burnstein, GangsterReport.com (September 2, 2018) Archived April 13, 2022, at the Wayback Machine
  3. ^ Gerald Gallant: Confessions of Canada's most prolific hit man Felix Seguin and Eric Thibault, Toronto Sun (7 November 2014)
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h Burnstein, Scott (Jan 2015). "Irish Mob Boss Matticks Loses Battle With Cancer In Canada". The Gangster Report. Retrieved 4 Jun 2017.
  5. ^ Edwards, Peter; Auger, Michel (2012). The Encyclopedia of Canadian Organized Crime: From Captain Kidd to Mom Boucher. Toronto: McClelland & Stewart. pp. 137 & 210. ISBN 9780771030499.
  6. ^ Edwards, Peter; Auger, Michel (2012). The Encyclopedia of Canadian Organized Crime: From Captain Kidd to Mom Boucher. Toronto: McClelland & Stewart. p. 137. ISBN 9780771030499.
  7. ^ O'Connor 2011, p. 65-66.
  8. ^ O'Connor 2011, p. 66.
  9. ^ a b c O'Connor 2011, p. 67.
  10. ^ O'Connor 2011, p. 82-83.
  11. ^ a b c O'Connor 2011, p. 84.
  12. ^ Schneider, Iced: The Story of Organized Crime in Canada, pp. 270
  13. ^ Edwards, Peter; Auger, Michel (2012). The Encyclopedia of Canadian Organized Crime: From Captain Kidd to Mom Boucher. Toronto: McClelland & Stewart. p. 137. ISBN 9780771030499.
  14. ^ O'Connor 2011, p. 85-86.
  15. ^ O'Connor 2011, p. 86.
  16. ^ O'Connor 2011, p. 94-97.
  17. ^ O'Connor 2011, p. 100.
  18. ^ O'Connor 2011, p. 108-109.
  19. ^ O'Connor 2011, p. 111.
  20. ^ O'Connor 2011, p. 111-112.
  21. ^ a b "Reputed gang leader Gerald Matticks denied parole". CTV News Montreal. Bell Media. 15 Oct 2009. Retrieved 4 Jun 2017.
  22. ^ a b c Bolan, Kim (16 Feb 2017). "Irish mobster pleads guilty to controlling massive Montreal weapons cache containing 1,475 dynamite sticks". National Post. Postmedia Network Inc. Retrieved 4 June 2017.
  23. ^ Thanh Ha, Tu (16 Jan 2015). "Storied Montreal mobster Richard Matticks, dead at 80, was a character in one of the biggest Quebec police scandals". The Globe and Mail. The Globe and Mail Inc. Retrieved 4 Jun 2017.
  24. ^ Cherry, Paul (19 Sep 2008). "Mob Linked to N.D.G. killing; Richard Griffin. Cops Sniffed Out Cocaine Shipment". The Gazette. Montreal.
  25. ^ Cherry, Paul (8 Dec 2006). "Smugglers Carried Coke on Ship Hulls: RCMP arrest 19; Network Distributed Drugs throughout Eastern Canada, Investigators Say". The Gazette. Montreal.
  26. ^ Cherry, Paul (25 Sep 2009). "Dealer Bragged of Military Aid, Trial is Told". The Gazette. Montreal.
  27. ^ Edwards, Peter; Auger, Michel (2012). The Encyclopedia of Canadian Organized Crime: From Captain Kidd to Mom Boucher. Toronto: McClelland & Stewart. p. 217. ISBN 9780771030499.
  28. ^ Edwards, Peter; Auger, Michel (2012). The Encyclopedia of Canadian Organized Crime: From Captain Kidd to Mom Boucher. Toronto: McClelland & Stewart. p. 137. ISBN 9780771030499.
  29. ^ Edwards, Peter; Auger, Michel (2012). The Encyclopedia of Canadian Organized Crime: From Captain Kidd to Mom Boucher. Toronto: McClelland & Stewart. p. 137. ISBN 9780771030499.
  30. ^ Gravenor, Kristian (10 Jul 2003). "Smuggler's secrets". Montreal Mirror. Communications Gratte-Ciel Ltée. Archived from the original on 29 August 2003.
  31. ^ "Key members of Montreal Mafia plead guilty in drugs, extortion case". theglobeandmail.com. 18 September 2008.
  32. ^ Cherry, Paul (13 Jan 2015). "West End Gang leader Richard Matticks dies of natural causes". Montreal Gazette. Postmedia Network Inc. Retrieved 4 Jun 2017.

BibliographyEdit