I've spent half a century writing for radio and print (mostly print). I hope to still be tapping the keys as I take my last breath.
The Rise of a Vicious Criminal
Through violence and intimidation Maurice “Mom” Boucher became Montreal's drug king pin and used his position as a Hells Angels leader to force other drug dealers to submit to his will, or die.
Maurice Boucher's Early Life
That image of Maurice Boucher (above) shows a man with a gleaming smile that belies the reality of a vicious killer with no empathy.
He was born in 1953 into poverty, one of eight children from a brutal, alcoholic father and a mother who tried to hold her family together. Boucher's father worked in construction, an industry that was ruled by the Mafia, in a society in which corruption was accepted as normal. He learned early on that using violence and the threat of it brought about the outcomes he desired.
He dropped out of school in Grade 9 and was already a heavy drinker and drug addict. Crime fuelled his addictions but he doesn't seem to have been very good at it.
He was arrested in 1974 while in the process of robbing a grocery store. Martin Pellerin, a police psychologist, said he was ambitious with a strong desire to be rich but with no inclination to work.
A pre-sentence report described Boucher as reaching his “hour of choice;” he could clean up his act and work in construction or go deeper into a life of crime. He chose to go deeper into crime. An armed robbery landed him a prison term of 40 months. Mixing with other criminals he learned to hone his skills as a crook.
Joining a Biker Gang
In the early 1980s, Boucher hitched up with the SS, a white supremacist motorcycle gang. The group pulled off a variety of crimes and the name Maurice Boucher started to show up on police radar, but the cops judged him to be nothing special—pretty much an ordinary outlaw biker. The group's main activity seems to have been beating up non-white immigrants until they also started to move into drug dealing.
Membership in the SS, allowed Boucher to become a candidate to join the Hells Angels, which was looking to expand out of Quebec to the rest of Canada. The Montreal Gazette reports that “On May 1, 1987, Boucher was welcomed into the Hells Angels as a full-patch member of its Montreal chapter, and, by 1994, he had gained a reputation among Montreal drug dealers as a fierce competitor.”
Internal squabbling saw five Hells Angels killed in what became known as the Lennoxville Massacre. Boucher moved into the leadership vacuum and started rebuilding the gang.
He created a new group within the Angels called the Nomads. Aspiring Nomad members had to commit a murder to qualify; this was to ensure that no under-cover police officers could infiltrate the club.
The Quebec Biker War
Pierre Daoust, 34, was in his motorcycle shop working on his Harley on July 13, 1994. Three men approached Daoust and fired 16 bullets into him.
Daoust was affiliated with the Hells Angels and his killers came from a rival gang called the Rock Machine. Under the leadership of Frédéric Faucher, the Rock Machine was sending a message to Maurice Boucher who had demanded that all drug dealers had to buy their narcotics from his Hells Angels.
The murder of Daoust was the opening salvo in a war between biker gangs in Quebec. The Rock Machine formed an alliance with other gangs to oppose Boucher and his dictatorial attitude, and so began a conflict that lasted until 2001 and cost of the lives of more than 160 people.
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Perhaps their families mourned the dead bikers but not the general public. However, several innocent people were caught in the cross fire and killed. Outrage peaked when 11-year-old Daniel Desrochers was killed by flying debris from a car bomb.
The Hells Angels outgunned the Rock Machine's Alliance although the weapon of choice for both sides was dynamite. In one incident, a truck loaded with dynamite was parked outside a favourite restaurant of Boucher's. The plan was to detonate it remotely when Boucher arrived, but a parking enforcement officer noted the illegally parked truck and had it towed away. Boucher and perhaps dozens of restaurant patrons had a close brush with death.
At the same time as he was fighting the Rock Machine, Boucher was hatching a plan to destabilize the Quebec justice system. He ordered the killing of two prison guards, Diane Lavigne and Pierre Rondeau. They were random victims whose deaths were aimed at intimidating anyone who might be thinking of testifying against the gang.
By 1999, the Rock Machine's Alliance had been enfeebled by the murder of many of its members and sought support from the Bandidos. With a big U.S. biker gang such as the Bandidos moving in, Boucher suddenly developed an interest in a truce. There was a ceasefire, but it didn't last long and it didn't matter much anyway. The police were ready to act.
Operation Springtime 2001
Early efforts to shut down the biker gangs had been ineffectual in part because Quebec's justice system was notoriously corrupt. A joint task force involving the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, the Ontario Provincial, and the Sûreté du Québec was set up. A couple of informers cut deals for leniency in exchange for snitching on the bikers.
On March 28, 2001, a massive police swoop took place. Two thousand police officers were deployed in rounding up 139 Hells Angels and their associates. Maurice Boucher was among those arrested.
After a massive trial, nine bikers were handed long prison sentences for crimes such as conspiracy to commit murder, gangsterism, and drug trafficking. But, the raid and subsequent imprisonments only caused a slight setback in the criminal activities of the Hells Angels. New recruits joined the ranks and it was back to the narcotics trade as before.
Boucher was convicted of conspiracy to murder in the case of the two prison guards and received a life sentence with no possibility of parole for 25 years.
Maurice Boucher's Last Years
In prison, Boucher's life of violence continued. Passing messages through his daughter during prison visits, he ordered the killing of rivals in the criminal underworld.
He also became a target himself. Apparently, the Hells Angels bosses in the United States were very unhappy with the way in which Boucher had drawn negative attention to the gang. A contract was put out for him to be killed in prison.
He was also a target of a mob known as the Indian Posse, an Aboriginal street gang who had run into a conflict with a Hells Angels puppet gang called the Zig-Zag Crew. In October 2010, acting on orders from Danny Wolfe, the leader of the Indian Posse, a member of that group wounded Boucher in a knife attack. Five years later, Boucher and another man were charged with attempting to murder a fellow inmate.
In 2015, Boucher was diagnosed with cancer. The disease, rather than his criminal enemies, killed him in July 2022. He was 69.
Julien Sher has written two books about the Hells Angels. He told Global News that “Mom Boucher was a kingpin, one of the most notorious organized crime leaders. He ruled the streets of Montreal. He was in charge of most of the cocaine distribution, brought in millions to the Hells Angels but also unleashed a wave of terror in this city.”
- On one occasion, Boucher planned the gruesome murder of one of his own hapless street drug dealers. The idea was to blame the killing on the Rock Machine and generate negative publicity for his enemies.
- The Hells Angels organization tries to put a pretty face on itself by claiming it's just a bunch of guys who ride Harley-Davidsons. “No, we're not criminals at all.” However, there are hundreds of members of the club in prison after convictions for murder, extortion, drug trafficking, money laundering, and dozens of other crimes?
- In May 2019, a judge in Utrecht, Netherlands described the Hells Angels as “a danger to public order and the rule of law.” The club has been banned entirely from the country. Germany and some other countries have banned individual chapters by the Netherlands is the only nation, so far, that has placed a ban on the entire organization.
- The Hells Angels organization is well aware that their name lacks an essential apostrophe. People who meet a member are advised not to point out the punctuation error.
- “Former Hells Angels Crime Boss Maurice (Mom) Boucher Dies of Cancer.” Paul Cherry, Montreal Gazette, July 10, 2022.
- “Quebec's Biker War Started 25 Years Ago Today.” Paul Cherry, Montreal Gazette, July 13, 2019.
- “Biker Gangs' Feuds Leave Bloody Trail.” Haley Mick and Tu Thanh Ha, Globe and Mail, April 10, 2006
- “Maurice ‘Mom’ Boucher, Former Quebec Hells Angels Leader, Dies at 69 From Cancer.” Tu Thanh Ha, Globe and Mail, July 11, 2022.
- “Maurice ‘Mom’ Boucher Remembered for Unleashing ‘Wave of Terror’ in Montreal.” Gloria Henriquez, Global News, July 11, 2022.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2022 Rupert Taylor