It is not only tourists who take advantage of the Grand Prix to hang out in the city’s trendy bars, but also criminals of all kinds who see it as a networking experience.
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“Tonight we want to spoil ourselves in terms of intelligence,” said Commander David Paradis to the 50 or so police officers present at the headquarters of the Service de police de la Ville de Montréal (SPVM) early Friday evening.
Its Eclipse team, primarily intended to combat gun violence and gather information on the city’s criminal groups, will not be idle during this second day of Grand Prix du Canada celebrations.
Accompanied by colleagues from Laval, Longueuil, Roussillon and Sûreté du Québec, the team’s police and intelligence officers spent the night crossing factories on major Montreal streets to observe criminals.
As soon as they arrive at an open-air club on Peel Street at 9pm, the team of about fifteen police officers spot a table with several familiar faces, where wine and forte already flow freely.
Filmed by customers
Quickly, the targeted customers pull out their phones to film the scene, where police officers in line try to recognize faces and write down the names of those present.
According to estimates, about 80% of the twenty people present in this container transformed for the occasion are known to the police.
“If they have guns, they’ll shut up,” Detective Lieutenant Pierre-Marc Houle said.
About twenty minutes later, the group of policemen heads to the back of this ephemeral bar. A table catches their attention, as outlawed bikers, including some Hells Angels, are seated there.
Individuals previously noticed at the front, in turn linked to street gangs, join them.
“There is talk between the two”, remarks an agent.
At 10pm the group of policemen finally left the scene and continued on Peel Street, in the rain that frightened several tourists and racing car enthusiasts.
Agents attract attention
Their imposing presence is noticed by passers-by.
“It’s an army!” I have not done anything ! laughs a young man as he passes them.
“Oh shit! Rather exclaims a young woman, a few meters away.
From the sidewalk, patrol boats peek out onto the terraces of the various restaurants where lobsters and other delicacies line the tables.
They also discuss with doormen and establishment owners in order to establish new bonds.
“Sometimes they call us back later when they see something,” says Mr. Houle.
At around 10:40 pm, the police moved into the trendy bar of a five-star hotel on Drummond Street, where a small line had already formed outside.
From the very first minutes, they don’t feel welcome in the luxurious rooms that sometimes function as a restaurant, sometimes as a club.
A sign that sex tourism is in full swing, the police were able to observe “offers of services” on the spot.
“Here, our presence is a little creepy,” said Officer Martin Bernard.
But their visit to this facility was not in vain in the end. A few steps from the exit, the police meet in Montreal an important actor of the Italian mafia, visibly upset by their presence.
The agents won’t bother him, but they promise to return to note who he’ll be sitting with by the end of their night at 4am yesterday morning.
♦ As Eclipse’s operations on Friday night targeted customers and not the factories themselves, The newspaper he preferred not to mention the names of the places he visited.
The objectives of Operation Night Watch
- Ensure safety around the bars and inside
- Respond to gun violence in licensed bars and establishments
- Fight against prostitution in the context of the Grand Prix
- Collect information on criminal subjects seen in the places visited
- The SPVM Eclipse group welcomed colleagues from the police departments of Laval, Longueuil, Roussillon and Sûreté du Québec for the weekend.
“There are people who will come [des banlieues] that our police officers don’t necessarily know, so it simplifies our work, “explains SPVM commander David Paradis.
- The approximately fifty police officers were thus able to exchange valuable information on individuals living in other cities.
- Many of these police forces also met last May, during the first party linked to the Hells Angels since the beginning of the pandemic.
“It is a practice that we want to pursue more regularly, because we are much more effective when we do it,” says Mr. Paradis.