Frank Ryan (gangster)
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Frank Peter "Dunie" Ryan (June 10, 1942 – November 13, 1984) was the leader of one of the most well known Montreal criminal organizations, the West End Gang.
Ryan's father abandoned their family when Ryan was three years old, leaving his mother to raise him by herself. Ryan dropped out of school in his mid-teens and led his own teenage gang who participated in "petty" crimes such as smash and grabs, garment thefts from trucks and breaking and entering.
Ryan continued his crime spree throughout the early 1960s, ending with an armed robbery conviction in 1966 for which he served 6 years of a 15-year sentence in an American prison. After his parole Ryan joined a new gang to help him continue his criminal enterprises, which now included loansharking as well as robberies. It was while at the helm of this gang that Ryan started to import and distribute drugs in the Montreal area.
After his initial forays in the drug market Ryan realized that this was a market that could be expanded and soon he had built a drug network that spread throughout Quebec, Ontario and the Atlantic provinces.
Ryan felt he was the "King" of Montreal and thumbed his nose at other criminal organizations in Montreal including the Hells Angels and Cotroni crime family. As both of these criminal organizations depended on Ryan's steady supply of drugs Ryan was definitely on the top of the criminal foodchain in Québec. When one of Ryan's alleged gang members "burned" him, Ryan contacted the Hells Angels North chapter for assistance. The North Chapter was one of Ryan's best customers for both personal use and resale of Ryan's drugs. Hells Angels member Yves "Apache" Trudeau was dispatched to take care of business for Ryan. Trudeau planted a bomb in the ex-West-End gang member's car and successfully fulfilled his contract when the bomb killed Hughie McGurnaghan.
Ryan's dealings with the Hells Angels almost proved to be his downfall however. Two Hells Angels associates planned to kidnap Ryan's children to get Ryan to reveal where he buried his vast fortune (as Ryan didn't believe in banks) but the plan was foiled by informants and the Angel associates involved were killed, allegedly by Trudeau as well.
Ryan's downfall came on November 13, 1984. Ryan was at his Nittolo’s Garden Motel office – when Paul April, another reputed West End Gang member, let Ryan know that he had a woman in one of the motel's rooms waiting to service him. With his guard down, Ryan entered the room to find April, Robert Lelievre (a small-time Montreal hood) and possibly two others brandishing guns and attempted to restrain Ryan with tape. They likely planned to find out where he kept his millions and then murder him. According to police documents it was believed that Ryan was worth between $50–100 million. Ryan fought back and was killed by a shotgun blast before he was fully restrained.
The remaining loyal members of the West End Gang learned who was responsible for Ryan’s death after getting reports back from the street that April was bragging that he had killed the king and that he was now the king. Allan "The Weasel" Ross, who inherited all of Ryan’s business, allegedly pulled Hells Angels hitmen Yves “Apache” Trudeau into service again along with Michel Blass to execute those responsible. Ross promised to pay them $200,000 in cash and forgive their sizable drug debt.
On November 25, only 12 days after Dunie Ryan was killed, the two hitmen delivered a television, VCR and a copy of "Hells Angels Forever" to the apartment where April and Lelievre were working out of.
April, Lelievre and two associates were killed a few minutes later when the bomb exploded. Eight others were injured in the explosion that nearly destroyed the apartment block.
Ross continued to fill Ryan's shoes and by the early eighties was considered one of North America's top five cocaine dealers. On Monday, November 10, 1997, after two days of jury deliberation, Ross was sentenced to life imprisonment for an unrelated murder in 1997. Ross will have to serve 45 years in jail before being eligible for parole.