Yves Trudeau (biker)
|Other names||Apache, The Mad Bumper|
|Criminal charge||43 counts of manslaughter|
|Penalty||Life in prison|
Yves "Apache" Trudeau (1946–2008), also known as "The Mad Bumper", was a Canadian former member of the Hells Angels North Chapter outlaw motorcycle gang in Laval, Quebec. Frustrated by cocaine addiction and his suspicion that his fellow gang members wanted him dead he became a government informant. In exchange he received a lenient sentence, life in prison but eligible for parole after seven years, for the killing of 43 people from September 1973 to July 1985.
He was granted parole in 1994, and given the new identity of Denis Côté. He was arrested in March 2004 for sexually assaulting a young boy and received four more years. In 2007, Trudeau learned he had cancer and was transferred to a medical centre from Archambault penitentiary.
The years 1936 to 1960 is a period of history known to Québécois as the Grande Noirceur ("Great Darkness") when Quebec was mostly ruled by the ultra-conservative Catholic Union Nationale party. Starting with the 1960 provincial election, which saw the Union Nationale defeated by the Quebec Liberals, Quebec society experienced sweeping changes known as the Quiet Revolution that saw Quebec go in the space of a decade from being one of the most conservative societies in North America to being one of the most liberal. As part of the reaction against the "medieval" Catholic social mores of the Grande Noirceur, the Québécois embraced a culture of hedonism in the 1960s with Quebec having for example a significantly higher rate of illegitimate births and drug use than English Canada. As part of the same backlash against the "suffocating" conformism of the Grande Noirceur, outlaw biker clubs became very popular in Quebec in the 1960s with many French-Canadian young men seeing the outlaw biker culture as a symbol of freedom, rebellion and machismo, and by 1968 la belle province had 350 outlaw biker clubs. One result of Quebec having so many outlaw biker clubs was a degree of violence and viciousness between the different outlaw biker clubs that had no parallel in the rest of Canada as there were too many biker clubs seeking their share of the organized crime rackets, giving Quebec the reputation as the "Red Zone" in the outlaw biker world. Dubro stated about the distinctive outlaw biker sub-culture of Quebec: "There's always has been more violence in Quebec. In the biker world it's known as the Red Zone. I remember an Outlaws hit man telling me he was scared going to Montreal."
The Popeyes, led by Yves Buteau, were the Quebec club that would eventually become Canada's first Hells Angels chapter. They were considered to be the most violent outlaw biker club in Quebec, and were infamous for engaging in gratuitous and sadistic violence that attracted the attention of the Hells Angels. The Popeyes were often employed by the Montreal Mafia to perform murders for them.
In 1968, Trudeau joined the Popeyes. Later, Trudeau would be a founding member of the Hells Angels in Quebec in 1977 after the Popeyes patched over. The crime journalist James Dubro said in an interview: "He had this fascination early in life with bikers and military things and weapons and bombs." Trudeau took a job with an explosives factory to learn how to handle explosives and would become an expert at building bombs. Pierre de Champlain, a former RCMP officer who wrote the book Histoire du crime organisé à Montréal stated in an interview: "He was very professional, very meticulous, and that's why they used his services." Trudeau scalped one of his victims, which earned him the moniker Apache.
In September 1979, Trudeau and others broke away from the Montreal Chapter to form the North Chapter, based in Laval. The group would become known for its violent and reckless behaviour and excessive drug use. The North chapter were mostly former Popeyes, and still retained Popeye attitudes, in marked contrast to the Montreal South chapter headed by Réjean "Zig Zig" Lessard, who consisted of men who joined the Angels after 1977 and were more disciplined. After Yves "Le Boss" Buteau -the Popeye president who taken his club into the Hells Angels- was assassinated by the Outlaws on 8 September 1983, the man who replaced him as president of the North chapter, Laurent "L'Anglais" Viau, had a more tolerant and relaxed attitude towards violence and drug use. Under Viau's leadership, the Laval chapter, who had often chaffed at Buteau's rules, got out of control.
Standing five-foot-six, weighing 135 pounds and clean shaven with short hair, Trudeau did not resemble the prototypical biker, but he is considered to be the Hells Angels' most prolific killer. Other Angels weighed between 300-400 pounds, had an average height of 6'0 feet, and had long hair and beards, leading the journalist Jerry Langton to write that "...nobody would had guessed he was the club's enforcer and primary weapon". The Irish-Canadian West End Gang, who controlled the Port of Montreal and thus the importation of drugs into Quebec, frequently made use of Trudeau's services to liquidate their rivals.
Trudeau admitted to killing 43 people from September 1973 to July 1985. He was the first Canadian Hells Angel to earn the "Filthy Few" patch, awarded to members who have killed for the club. During a biker war between the Hells Angels and the Outlaws for control of Montreal's drug trade between 1978–83, Trudeau killed 18 out of the 23 Outlaws slain during the conflict. Langton called Trudeau a "psychopathic killer" and a "killing machine" par excellence, who was the Angels' most dangerous killer. Dubro stated about Trudeau: "He had absolutely no conscience, no respect for human life at all." To assist with his killings, Trudeau started to heavily use cocaine. Dubro commented: "Most of the hit men I've met have been cokeheads, and they usually coke up before doing the killings. Makes it a little easier. Not all of them, but alcoholism and drug use is very common among hit men."
Trudeau claimed that West End Gang chieftain Frank "Dunie" Ryan's successor, Allan "The Weasel" Ross, had offered to pay him $200,000 to eliminate Ryan's killers, but Ross later told Trudeau to collect from the Halifax Chapter instead. When the leader of the Halifax chapter, David "Wolf" Carroll, paid Trudeau $98,000, he learned that the Montreal North chapter was actually entitled to one-quarter of the money, and that Trudeau had used the money to support his cocaine addiction. As the Halifax chapter was poorer than the Laval chapter, Trudeau's behaviour was considered to be especially crass.
This only added to the resentment many Hells Angels already felt towards members of the North Chapter. Other Hells Angels felt that the North Chapter bikers were too wild and uncontrollable. They often used drugs they were supposed to sell and were suspected of cheating other chapters out of drug profits. A decision was made to liquidate the North Chapter, in what would be known in biker history as the Lennoxville massacre.
A meeting was set up at the Sherbrooke Chapter's clubhouse in Lennoxville on March 24, 1985. At that gathering, five members of the North Chapter were shot to death, wrapped in sleeping bags, and dumped in the St. Lawrence River. The others were allowed to live and were absorbed into the Montreal Chapter.
Trudeau was supposed to be at that meeting, but had enrolled in a detoxification program the week before. He later said he wanted to clean himself up, because he knew what happened to members who were always high. News of the North Chapter slaughter soon reached Trudeau at the detox centre in Oka, and Trudeau received a visit from a Montreal Chapter representative. Trudeau was told that he was out of the club and would have to have his club tattoos removed.
After his release from the detox centre, Trudeau discovered that the Hells Angels had taken his motorcycle and $46,000 in cash that belonged to him from the North Chapter clubhouse. They said they would return the bike if he killed two people for the gang. Trudeau succeeded in killing one of the targets. Jean-Marc Deniger was killed in May 1985 and stuffed in his car. Satisfied, the Hells Angels gave Trudeau his motorcycle back.
But Trudeau knew he was living on borrowed time. The Hells Angels had taken out a $50,000 contract on his head. He decided to become a police informant and government witness.
In 1985, Trudeau pleaded guilty to 43 counts of manslaughter, meaning that as far as the Crown is concerned, Trudeau did not intentionally kill his 43 victims – 29 of whom died from firearms, 10 from bombs, three from being beaten to death, and one from strangulation. Police estimated 30 to 35 of his victims were other motorcycle gang members or sympathizers. Trudeau also testified on 40 other murders and 15 attempted murders. The Conservative senator Pierre-Hugues Boisvenu questioned the value of the plea bargain the Crown reached with Trudeau, saying: "Apache Trudeau didn't have to fight for his money, he didn't have to fight to be well treated. These are programs that cost us millions of dollars. The criminals take advantage of protection that isn't available to victims and a lot of the criminals who turned informant will wind up being recidivist."
As part of his controversial contract with the government, Trudeau was sentenced to life in prison, with eligibility for parole in seven years. Under his deal, the government also gave him $40,000 over the next four years and about $35 a week for cigarettes.
Release from prison
Trudeau was granted parole in 1994 and given a new identity. He lived under the name Denis Côté and worked as an orderly in a nursing home. However, after being laid off in 2000, he slid back into cocaine addiction and sexually assaulted a 13-year-old boy, for which he pleaded guilty in 2004. He was sentenced to a four-year prison term.
In 2006 Trudeau was diagnosed with bone-marrow cancer. In July 2008 the Canadian National Parole Board granted him parole and ordered him released to an outside medical-care facility. As part of his release, Trudeau was not allowed to contact minors or the victims of his crimes. The sister of one of Trudeau's victims, opposed to him being granted parole, told the Journal de Montréal: "Killing to him was like buying a bag of milk. A guy like that doesn't have a soul. That cancer is justice."
- Jean-Marie Viel, shot to death in Trois-Rivières in 1970 after he stole a motorcycle from the club. Viel was Trudeau's first murder victim.
- On 17 February 1978, an incident occurred at a bar popular with the Hells Angels, the Brasserie Joey, when two Outlaws chose to drink until they were ejected by the Angels. When the two Outlaws stood outside cursing the Angels, a car came down the street out of the snowfall, briefly stopped while the driver opened fire. Trudeau was the driver and shooter who killed one of the Outlaws, Robert Côté and wounded the other.
- On 21 March 1978, Trudeau assassinated the president of the Montreal chapter of the Outlaws, Gilles Cadorette, with a bomb he planted in his car.
- On 10 November 1978, Trudeau assassinated an Outlaw leader, Brian Powers, by knocking on his door and shooting him in the head 9 times when he answered.
- On the evening of 8 December 1978, Trudeau saw a man walking down a street in Montreal who resembled an Outlaw leader, Roland "Roxy" Dutemple. Trudeau walked up to him, asked "Êtes-vous Roxy?" ("Are you Roxy?") and when the man didn't answer, pulled out his handgun and shot him in the head. On the next day Trudeau learned from reading the newspapers that the man he killed was William Weichold, who just happened to look like Dutemple, did not answer his question because he spoke no French, and had no involvement with organized crime. Trudeau later remembered laughing hysterically when he learned from reading Le Devoir that the man he killed was Weichold, not Dutemple. Trudeau's only disappointment with killing Weichold was that the Angels chose not to pay him for that killing as he requested, as he argued that people who looked like Dutemple should be killed in case they were him.
- On 29 March 1979, Trudeau finally assassinated Dutemple with a car bomb.
- On 3 April 1979, Trudeau assassinated Robert Labelle, the leader of a gang in Laval called the Huns, who, rumor had it, was planning to have his gang "patch over" to join the Outlaws. Trudeau knocked on his door, and when Labelle opened it, shot him in the head.
- Donald McLean, a member of the rival Outlaws gang, and his girlfriend Carmen Piche, blown up in 9 May 1979 when a bomb attached to McLean's Harley-Davidson exploded.
- Jeanne Desjardins, a grandmother, killed in February 1980 for trying to help her son, ex-Hells Angel André Desjardins. Trudeau beat her to death and then killed her son and his girlfriend. The bodies of the latter two were dumped in the St. Lawrence River.
- Reputed West End Gang member Hugh Patrick McGurnaghan, blown up in Westmount on 27 October 1981 when a bomb planted in his Mercedes-Benz detonated. Trudeau later said Frank Ryan had hired him to commit the murder.
- Even fellow Hells Angels were not safe. In January 1982, Trudeau killed Charlie Hachez, a member of the North Chapter, because he had a heavy drug problem, had conspired to kidnap Frank Ryan's kids and owed Ryan $150,000 in drug money. When Ryan learned about the kidnapping plot, he informed the Hells Angels that they either liquidate those involved or be cut off from the cocaine that he sold them. Hachez was lured to a meeting, killed, and his body dumped in the St. Lawrence River. Denis "Le Cure" Kennedy, a Popeye turned Hells Angel, and the leader of the plot to kidnap Ryan's children was gunned down by Trudeau after being invited to go out for some drinks at a local bar. Kennedy was one of Trudeau's friends, and Dubro commented about his murder: "That's the thing about biker gangs like the Hells Angels. They talk about a brotherhood but when they find someone is no longer useful they just get rid of him."
- Michel Desormiers, brother-in-law of reputed mob boss Frank Cotroni, was gunned down in July 1983. The killing was cleared with the Montreal Mafia first.
- When Frank Ryan was himself murdered on 13 November 1984, Trudeau was hired by the new leader of the West End Gang, Allan "the Weasel" Ross, to exact revenge. On 25 November 1984 a television set stuffed with explosives was delivered to the apartment where Paul April and the rest of Ryan's killers were holed up. Michel Blass, a friend of Trudeau arrived at April's apartment with the gift of a TV, a VCR and the videotape Hells Angels Forever. After Blass left the building, Trudeau used a remote control to detonate the bomb he had planted inside the TV. The explosion killed four people, injured eight and knocked a huge hole in the apartment building in downtown Montreal.
- Cherry, Paul (16 July 2008). "He killed at least 43, now ex-biker faces death". canada.com. Montreal Gazette. Archived from the original on 6 November 2012. Retrieved 9 October 2011.
- Langton 2006, p. 32.
- Lejtenyi, Patrick (26 September 2017). "How Canada's Most Prolific Hit Man Turned Informant on the Hells Angels". vice.com. Vice. Retrieved 7 December 2017.
- Langton 2006, p. 33.
- Langton 2010, p. 58.
- Langton 2010, p. 85-86.
- Langton 2010, p. 81 & 133.
- Langton 2010, p. 86.
- McArthur, Greg; Thanh Ha, Tu (5 June 2007). "Coming clean on witness protection". theglobeandmail.com. The Globe and Mail. Retrieved 18 January 2018.
- Thanh Ha, Tu (16 July 2008). "Terminally ill ex-hit man gets parole again". theglobeandmail.com. The Globe and Mail. Retrieved 18 January 2018.
- Langton 2010, p. 57-58.
- Langton 2010, p. 58-59.
- Langton 2010, p. 62.
- Langton 2010, p. 63.
- Langton 2009, p. 59.
- Langton, Jerrry Fallen Angel: The Unlikely Rise of Walter Stadnick and the Canadian Hells Angels Toronto: John Wiley & Sons, 2009, ISBN 9781443427258.
- Langton, Jerry Showdown: How the Outlaws, Hells Angels and Cops Fought for Control of the Streets, Toronto: John Wiley & Sons, 2010, ISBN 047067878X.
- How Canada's Most Prolific Hit Man Turned Informant on the Hells Angels
- Infamous killer not free yet, Montreal Gazette, November 28, 2007
- Ex-biker hitman imprisoned for child molesting, CTV, July 14, 2004
- Biker informant sentenced in sex assault, CBC News, July 14, 2004
- Hells Angels hit man 'Apache' Trudeau up on sex charges, CBC News, March 25, 2004
- Takin’ care of Canadians outlaw biker business, North Shore News, April 26, 2000