A Quebec Court judge has ruled that a photo accompanied by a comment made by a drug dealer while he was being sought in connection with a police crackdown on cocaine trafficking networks tied to the Hells Angels posed enough of a threat to justify issuing an order that he turn over a sample of his DNA to authorities.
“To use an English expression, you were making a statement,” Judge Daniel Bédard said Friday while he sentenced Denis Desputeaux, 24, to a 28-month prison term for having trafficked in cocaine and methamphetamine.
Desputeaux was in Dominican Republic on April 24 when members of the Escouade nationale de répression contre le crime organisé (ENRCO) spread out across Quebec to make arrests in Project Objection, an investigation into drug trafficking networks tied to the biker gang. The arrests began at 5:30 a.m. A little more than an hour later, a photo of
a police officer dressed in riot gear with a bullet wound to his face was posted on Desputeaux’s Facebook page. The photo was accompanied with the comment “Talk to the police in a language they understand.”
The posting was interpreted as a threat by police officers who worked with ENRCO and earlier this week, prosecutor Marie-France Plante argued the message merited an order requiring that Desputeaux be required to turn over a sample of his DNA.
Such orders are normally issued when an offender is convicted of a violent crime. The sample is placed in a national database to determine if the person is linked to other unsolved crimes. Bédard said he agreed with the request, in part, because given the context it was comparable to someone posting a hate message on a social network.
“It is more than a photo. I don’t see why it should be less important than a (case) where a member of a visible minority was (threatened),” Bédard said after criticizing Desputeaux for not having followed the unwritten rules of the organized crime milieu where a major police takedown of a drug trafficking network is seen as “strictly business.”
Bédard underlined that it is stressful for police officers to participate in major roundups of drug traffickers because they never know what will happen when they knock on a suspect’s door.
“The tension mounts (as arrests are made),” Bédard said while adding that a message like the one Desputeaux posted would only serve to increase that tension. Desputeaux, a tall imposing man whose arms, neck and head are covered in tattoos, including one of the acronym ACAB, short for the expression “All cops are bastards,” took in Bédard’s words without reaction.
Desputeaux and Kenny Maheu, 28, another man who was sentenced on Friday, were ultimately located in Dominican Republic and were arrested by that country’s national police force on June 26. Maheu was arrested in Boca Chica and Desputeaux was apprehended in Puerto Plata, a popular vacation destination. According to a release issued by the Policia Nacional, the arrests came as the result of information from Interpol.
Seven weeks after they were returned to Canada, both men pleaded guilty to three charges: trafficking in cocaine, conspiracy to commit drug trafficking and trafficking in methamphetamine. The charges involved a network that sold drugs in Cowansville, a town in the Eastern Townships 90 kilometres southeast of Montreal. In July, Massimo Corbin, another participant in the conspiracy, pleaded guilty to the same charges and was sentenced to 720 days.
Maheu was sentenced to an overall prison term of 33 months on Friday. His involvement in the Cowansville network began as soon as he finished a 27-month prison term he received in March 2015 for his involvement in a drug-trafficking network in the Bois-Franc and Centre-du-Québec regions between 2012 and 2014. About 40 people based around Victoriaville sold cocaine, methamphetamine and pot and were arrested as part of a Sûreté du Québec investigation dubbed Project Macramé. When Maheu pleaded guilty in the Macramé case, the court was told he was selling cannabis by the pound and meth pills in large packages.
Maheu was considered to be one of the heads of the ring and was also involved in selling firearms. When he was sent to a federal penitentiary in 2015, he was classified as having ties to the Hells Angels and a member of one of its support clubs, the Devils Warriors, based in Sherbrooke. He later told the Parole Board of Canada that he left the gang because his girlfriend did not approve.
A decision made by the parole board in 2016 noted that Maheu continued to associate with members of the Hells Angels while he served his sentence. He was granted a statutory release on April 12, 2017, and according to the charge sheet filed in his most recent case, he began dealing drugs in Cowansville a few months later.