Paul Cherry, Montreal Gazette
Two men who were alleged to be part of a consortium of cocaine suppliers while the Montreal Mafia and the Hells Angels in Quebec were at their weakest points in the city spooked a police officer while he had them under surveillance, a courtroom was told Monday.
Quebec Superior Court Judge Anne-Marie Jacques heard evidence Monday in a pretrial motion at the Gouin courthouse, where the trial of Rabih (Robby) Alkhalil is set to begin soon.
Alkhalil, 32, is one of only two men who still face charges in Project Loquace, an investigation led by the Sûreté du Québec that produced drug-trafficking charges against more than 120 people in 2012. When arrests were made that year, Alkhalil was on the lam, but the SQ alleged he was a leader in a consortium that tried to gain control of cocaine trafficking in Montreal while most of the Quebec-based Hells Angels were behind bars in Project SharQc and the Montreal Mafia was dealing with a leadership crisis while then-Mob boss Vito Rizzuto was jailed in the U.S.
Alkhalil was eventually arrested and began making his first court appearances in Project Loquace in 2013. But his case was delayed because he first had to be tried in Toronto for the murder of Johnnie (Maserati) Raposo, a cocaine dealer who was shot by a hit man, hired by Alkhalil, in Toronto’s Little Italy in June 2012. Alkhalil was convicted of first-degree murder on May 11, 2017 along with the hit man and two other men.
On Monday Jacques heard evidence in support of a motion filed by the prosecution to allow hearsay evidence to be presented to support the future testimony of an undercover agent used in Project Loquace.
Carl Harvey, a member of a Montreal police surveillance team while Project Loquace was underway, was one of a few witnesses who testified Monday. He said he was assigned to keep Alkhalil and Larry Amero, a Hells Angel from another province, under surveillance one day when the two men turned the tables on him.
He described having followed both men, accompanied by two women, as they drove to a restaurant on Parc Ave. The small group headed inside and Harvey said he watched them from a car parked across the street. He said a homeless person standing near his car began yelling for no apparent reason and drew attention in his direction. Alkhalil suddenly emerged from the restaurant and looked directly toward him, Harvey said. The Montreal police officer admitted to having been worried as Alkhalil took out his phone and appeared to take photos of him. At one point, Amero, who was also charged in Project Loquace, emerged from the restaurant and looked toward Harvey’s car. The men and the two women drove away without incident, but, Harvey said, he was certain his cover had been blown. The charges against Amero were stayed in 2017 after a judge determined it took the Crown too long to bring his case to trial.
Alkhalil, 32, is charged with having conspired with eight men in all, including Amero, to smuggle cocaine into Canada between May 1, 2011 and Nov. 1, 2012. He is also charged with having trafficked in cocaine during the same time frame. He also faces a gangsterism charge and is accused of being in possession of the proceeds of a crime.
Included on the list of the people Alkhalil is accused of having conspired with is Shane Kenneth (Wheels) Maloney, 42, an alleged leader of Montreal’s West End Gang while the group was investigated in Project Loquace. Maloney was sentenced to an overall 10-year prison term in 2017. During Project Loquace, Maloney began to negotiate with an undercover agent to purchase 25 kilograms of cocaine. He was also linked to a warehouse where police found a large quantity of dynamite, two pounds of C-4 explosives, 50 detonators, 152 firearms and 216 other prohibited weapons.
Also included on the list of Alkhalil’s alleged co-conspirators are two men who were murdered before they could be arrested in Project Loquace. One of the men, Frédéric Lavoie, was found dead in Colombia in 2014. His body had been dismembered, and on Monday SQ investigator Stéphane Malenfant described having to inform Lavoie’s parents of the gruesome murder.
According to a decision made by the Immigration and Refugee Board in 2011 involving one of Alkhalil’s older brothers, their family arrived in Canada in 1990 at Mirabel airport and sought refugee protection. His parents said they left “Saudi Arabia to escape the Gulf War and the lack of educational resources available to their children.” But while attempting to deport Alkhalil’s brother in 2011, Canadian authorities were unable to determine if the family had citizenship in any country.
Alkhalil is the youngest of five brothers, including three who have been murdered. His oldest brother, Nabil, was killed in Mexico in 2018. Khalil, 19, the second-oldest, was fatally shot in Surrey, B.C. in 2001, and Mahmoud, the fourth-oldest, was also 19 when he died after being shot during a gunfight in a club in Vancouver in 2003.