SAINTE ANNE DES PLAINES, Que. — Quebec police are remaining tight-lipped on the reported stabbing of one of Canada’s most notorious criminals.
But a leading expert on organized crime in the province says the reported incident points to the diminished clout of former Hells Angels kingpin Maurice “Mom” Boucher.
Officers have confirmed that four inmates were involved in an altercation at the Sainte Anne des Plaines Penitentiary some 50 kilometres northeast of Montreal on Saturday afternoon.
But they are not confirming media reports that Boucher, the former head of the Hells Angels chapter in Quebec, was hurt in the incident.
Surete du Quebec Sgt. Gregory Gomez del Prado told The Canadian Press that two prisoners received minor injuries in the altercation.
“One of them refused to go to the hospital, and the other one was transferred to the hospital in Laval,” he said.
“We’re investigating, of course, to try to determine what happened.”
He said the incident will be reviewed by the Crown prosecutor to determine if charges will be laid.
Boucher was sentenced to life in prison in 2002 for ordering the deaths of two prison guards in an attempt to destabilize the Quebec justice system.
He has already been attacked several times while behind bars, including an assassination attempt shortly after being imprisoned.
At that time, a fellow inmate tried to kill Boucher with a homemade knife in the common area of the prison.
The Hells Angels boss received only minor injuries, and the attacker was quickly killed with his own weapon by other inmates who came to Boucher’s defence.
While details of the latest altercation remain unclear, organized crime expert Julian Sher said it suggests the former Hells Angels leader no longer holds the power and protection he once did.
“We have to see ’Mom’ Boucher as the pale reflection of the gang leader he once was,” said Sher, an investigative journalist and author of books on the Hells Angels.
“I don’t think he has clout and can exercise the level of fear that he once had when he was roaming the streets and really ruled the gang world of Quebec.”
Under Boucher, the Hells Angels biker gang led a bloody turf war over drugs in Montreal during the 1990s.
Sher said the latest prison incident may not have been a planned assassination as in the past.
Still, he said Boucher remains a notable figure inside prison walls and a tempting target for would-be-attackers.
“If you could harm the once-great ’Mom’ Boucher, that’s a notch in your belt,” Sher explained.
Boucher is being housed in a special unit of the prison, and has little contact with other inmates, Sher said.
“It’s very secure but it’s also very isolated, which means he is cut off from the rest of his gang members which are in prison,” he said.
Meanwhile, on the street, Sher said the Hells Angels in Quebec have been hampered in recent years by sweeping arrests and court battles.
He said the organized crime scene in the city is going through a major period of flux.
“There’s a shake-up going on,” he said.
“One thing is clear, it won’t be ’Mom’ Boucher that comes out on top.”