West End Gang
|Territory||Various neighbourhoods in Montreal|
|Criminal activities||Drug trafficking, contract killing, extortion, racketeering, illegal gambling, gun-running, prostitution, and money laundering|
|Allies||Rizzuto crime family|
The West End Gang is one of Canada's most influential organized crime groups. Active since the early 1900s and still active today, their rise to notoriety did not begin until the 1960s when they were known simply as the "Irish gang". Their criminal activities were focused on, but not restricted to, the west side of Montreal, Quebec. Most of the gang's earnings in the early days were derived from truck hijackings, home invasions, kidnapping, protection rackets, drug trafficking, extortion, and armed robbery.
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.
The gang, which is dominated by – but not exclusively limited to – members of Irish descent, began to move into the drug trade in the 1970s. They began to import hashish and cocaine and developed important contacts in the United States, South America and Europe with some members working out of Florida.
Since that time, the gang has formulated ties to the Montreal Mafia, the Cosa Nostra, the Hells Angels, and Colombian cartels. The three Montreal organizations (West End Gang, Montreal Mafia, Hells Angels) make up the "Consortium" (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.
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. Subsequent revenge killings weeks later are believed to have been organized by replacement leader Allan "The Weasel" Ross.
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.
In 2003 onetime gang associate Peter MacAllister wrote a novel called Dexter based on real stories from the gang.
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.
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