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Fugitive biker captured in night raid by Quebec SWAT team

According to corporate registry records, Frédéric Landry-Hétu is an Internet entrepreneur who heads a web hosting company in Longueuil, south of Montreal, albeit a firm with a glaring misspelled word on its website and a phone number that won't take incoming calls.

Mr. Landry-Hétu also happens to considered by police to be a dangerous criminal who faces drug-trafficking and murder charges, a 6-foot-2, 252-pound biker with the word "Hells" tattooed on one arm and "Angels" on the other arm.

After almost four years on the run, which earned him a spot on the Sûreté du Québec's Top-10 most-wanted list, Mr. Landry-Hétu was captured in a night raid by a SWAT team, early Saturday at a remote cottage.

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His arrest is a reminder that a dozen suspects still remain at large following Operation SharQc, a massive crackdown against the Hells Angels in April, 2009, when 156 people were named in an indictment targeting all five of the gang's chapters in Quebec.

Like other top-tiered, full-patch Hells Angels wanted in SharQc, Mr. Landry-Hétu has been indicted on 22 murder charges, in connection with the bloody turf that bikers waged in the 1990s as the Hells Angels battled other groups for control of the illicit drug trade in Quebec.

Police said Mr. Landry-Hétu offered no resistance when heavily armed tactical officers arrived around at a cottage in the Saint-Michel-des-Saints area, 170 kilometres north of Montreal.

The 44-year-old is a member of the South chapter of the Hells Angels and, like several other SharQc suspects, was known to have spent time in the Dominican Republic.

Other fugitive bikers named in the SharQc indictment include veteran Hells Angel Guy (Malin) Rodrigue, a 55-year-old founding member of the Hells Angels' Sherbrooke chapter in 1984, and Claude (Le Gros) Gauthier, a member of the Trois-Rivières Chapter.

The ranks of those on the lam have gradually been whittled after last year's arrest of Michel (L'Animal) Smith of the South chapter in Panama, and Paul Magnan of the Trois-Rivières chapter, in the Outaouais region of western Quebec.

Most strikingly, Michel (Mammouth) Grenier, who once tipped the scale at 260 pounds, had lost 80 pounds in an attempt to change his appearance. Investigators found a photo of his skinnier self during a raid in 2011 and caught up with him last May in a cottage.

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After appearing to be immune from prosecutions for years, the Hells Angels were dealt a major blow in 2001 when a joint police project, Operation Springtime, targeted the gang's elite Nomads chapter. According to court evidence, police decided to follow that success with SharQc, an unprecedented operation targeting the gang's five remaining chapters in the province.

"The many police operations in recent years led the police departments to the realization that the H.A. actually formed one and the same criminal organization," according to an SQ strategic outline quoted in a 2011 court decision.

The ruling by Quebec Superior Court Justice James Brunton freed 31 of the 156 defendants who faced lesser charges, owing to unreasonable anticipated delays.

(One of those 31, Benjamin Hudon-Barbeau, was re-arrested on weapons charges last fall. He made headlines two weeks ago when he tried to escape the Saint-Jérôme detention centre by clinging on a hijacked helicopter.) SharQc involved so many accused and so much evidence (4.3 million computer files and 2.3 million wiretap summaries) that Judge Brunton had to divide the case into 11 separate pending trials.

The investigation was made possible, according to court documents, after a retired Hells Angel, Sylvain Boulanger, became an informant, the first time a full-patch member of the gang is testifying for the Crown.

Mr. Boulanger, who will be paid $2.9-million for his co-operation, is a former sergeant-at-arms, responsible for security of the Sherbrooke chapter, according to a 2009 ruling.

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He gave police more than 50 video statements and bolstered the prosecution's murder case by testifying that in 1994 all the chapters in Quebec had unanimously agreed to "go to war" against other crime syndicates like the Rock Machine.

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About the Author
National reporter

Tu Thanh Ha is based in Toronto and writes frequently about judicial, political and security issues. He spent 12 years as a correspondent for the Globe and Mail in Montreal, reporting on Quebec politics, organized crime, terror suspects, space flights and native issues. More

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