Skip to main content
Canada’s most-awarded newsroom for a reason
Enjoy unlimited digital access
$1.99
per week
for 24 weeks
Canada’s most-awarded newsroom for a reason
$1.99
per week
for 24 weeks
// //

Quebec mobster Raynald Desjardins is seen on this undated file photo. Desjardins was held at Leclerc Institution in Laval, Que.

The Canadian Press

The Leclerc Institution is a prison near Montreal whose inmates read like a who's who of organized crime in Quebec. Bikers, street-gang members and mobsters have all done time within its walls.

The 51-year-old federal penitentiary has gained a reputation for the influence wielded by criminal groups inside. The late Mafia kingpin Frank Cotroni once headed the prisoner recreation committee. Raynald Desjardins, a close associate of Montreal mobster Vito Rizzuto, had a jogging track built on prison grounds in the 1990s. After Mr. Rizzuto himself was arrested in 2004, he reportedly hoped to be incarcerated at Leclerc so he could be among his cronies.

Today, the prison in Laval is said to be controlled by the Hells Angels biker gang, who had reportedly maintained an exclusive membership at the prison pool before it was demolished by federal authorities this year. The presence of the notorious biker gang inside the jail helps maintain a certain level of jailhouse calm, experts say.

Story continues below advertisement

"The situation in Leclerc is pretty stable because there's one dominant group at the institution – the Hells Angels – and they maintain a fairly peaceful atmosphere by penitentiary standards," said Stephen Fineberg of the Quebec association of prison lawyers.

Despite its medium-security designation, Leclerc has a ramped-up level of protection that makes it closer to a maximum-security establishment, a sort of "max lite," experts say. They raise concerns about the impact of dispersing career criminals allied to organized crime networks into other prisons with rival gangs; also, since Leclerc houses many inmates from the Montreal area, prisoner transfers to other locations will take a toll on family visits.

Report an error Editorial code of conduct
Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to feedback@globeandmail.com. If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to letters@globeandmail.com.

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff.

We aim to create a safe and valuable space for discussion and debate. That means:

  • Treat others as you wish to be treated
  • Criticize ideas, not people
  • Stay on topic
  • Avoid the use of toxic and offensive language
  • Flag bad behaviour

If you do not see your comment posted immediately, it is being reviewed by the moderation team and may appear shortly, generally within an hour.

We aim to have all comments reviewed in a timely manner.

Comments that violate our community guidelines will not be posted.

UPDATED: Read our community guidelines here

Discussion loading ...

To view this site properly, enable cookies in your browser. Read our privacy policy to learn more.
How to enable cookies