A Feature Article by Alexa Everett
For Prof. D’Arcy O’Connor’s Feature Writing class
Yves “Apache” Trudeau
During Yves “Apache” Trudeau’s 2004 trial, Judge Michel Duceppe pronounced, “…you have killed more people than the Canadian military in the Gulf War…” It is for this reason that Trudeau has been deemed one of Canada’s most prolific killers.
Trudeau’s early life was tainted by his father’s abuse and military mannered ways. During the early 1960’s, a teenaged Trudeau worked with explosives at C-I-L, which later proved valuable during his murderous periods, as he was often hailed as the “mad bomber.” In the latter part of the decade, Trudeau began Quebec’s first biker gang, the Popeyes, which became the first Canadian chapter of the Hells Angels in 1977. Trudeau was to begin a rampage of “firsts”, as he was also the first Canadian to receive the Hells Angels’ “Filthy Few” title which was dedicated to those who were ready to kill for the group. Two years later, in 1979, Trudeau began the Laval chapter, and started what was to be infamously known as the “Hells Angels’ graveyard”, the northern part of the St. Lawrence River that, because of Trudeau’s influence and killing sprees, fast became the dumping site of the victims of Montreal’s prevailing gangs.
The Hells Angels had three international rules: no rape, no drugs by injection, and no swindling; of which Trudeau’s Laval chapter often rode along the thin line, as members were known for their violence and excessive drug use, eating up much of the gang’s profit. One of Trudeau’s first recorded victims was Charlie Hachez, a Hell’s Angel member who was “always high” and owed Frank “Dunie” Ryan over $145, 000 in a drug debt. Dennis “Cure” Kennedy would also be one of Trudeau’s early murders as members like Hachez and Kennedy, were voted out as “problematic” to the gang.
When Dunie Ryan was assassinated by Paul April, Trudeau and Michel “Mike” Blass, both often summoned as partners in the gun-for-hire contracts, were contacted by Ryan’s successor, Allan “The Weasel” Ross, after Ryan’s funeral at St. Augustine of Canterbury Church in Notre-Dame-de-Grace to avenge his late leader for a $200,000 contract. Trudeau planted 16 kilos of C-4 plastic explosives and a timing mechanism set for 30 minutes in a TV set destined for April’s apartment. On November 25, 1984, twelve days after Ryan’s murder, Blass delivered the bomb, tactfully implanted in the TV set, to 1645 de Maisonneuve Blvd. apartment 917, where a welcoming Paul April and three friends were snorting cocaine, awaiting a new entertainment center. At 4:15 a.m. the explosion detonated, killing all four residents, blowing out the windows, and damaging nearby floors. Police originally assumed the four died while attempting to create an explosive; but after Trudeau’s 1985 trial, the 1984 homicide toll was changed from 84 to 88.
That year, Trudeau also planted a bomb in Sylvain Dagenais’ sports car outside of a Laval strip club under the owners’, Carol Dufour’s and Bruno Zanetti’s, instructions. Dagenais’ death was yet another contract Trudeau completed for anyone, from any gang, no matter their affiliation. Trudeau’s wearing loyalty to the Hells Angels was noted by the Nova Scotia and Quebec chapters, who had also just passed a rule that gang members could not do any drugs more serious than hashish or marijuana, which Trudeau’s chapter, known for its prevailing cocaine use, disregarded. On March 24, 1985, the eight highest- ranking members of the Laval chapter were ordered to meet with Hells Angels officials in Sherbrooke, Lennoxville. Trudeau, unbeknownst to him at the time, would be saved by his addiction as he was unable to attend the meeting, as he was sequestered in a Montreal detox center at the time for his cocaine abuse. Of the eight Laval members who attended the Lennoxville meeting, five were immediately shot to death and dumped into the St. Lawrence River. Upon hearing this, Trudeau did something as a “first” once again.Knowing that there was a $50, 000 contract on his life, Trudeau turned to the police. “I was as good as dead already. I was supposed to be dumped in the river on the 24th” so during the month of August, 1985, Trudeau became the first full patch Hells Angel member to become a police informer. In exchange for his testimony, which could not be used against him, he received an informant contract and lenient sentence during which Trudeau confessed to being associated with 43 murders.
Throughout his 15-year career as a hitman, Trudeau admitted to doing half of the murders himself (29 with guns, 10 with bombs, three with baseball bats, and one using strangulation), and the other half he claimed only to be an accomplice. Trudeau was sentenced to life, for which he offered a guilty plea of 43 counts of manslaughter, but because of his contract, was allowed parole after only seven years. Trudeau provided information on over 100 murders and helped implicate at least 80 individuals, which led to 20 arrests. In jail, Trudeau was said to live comfortably, with a four-year contract of $10,000 a year deposited into his trust fund, family visits every fortnight ( from his mother and one sibling whom he kept in contact with), and a colour TV, as well as $35 a week for cigarettes.
In 1994, Trudeau was released under the new identity of Denis Cote. He led a secret life doing odd jobs like driving a bus for the handicapped until being arrested in March 16th of 2004 for sexual assault, at the age of 57. In April of that year, Trudeau pleaded guilty to six counts of sexual exploitation, sexual interference, and invitation to sexual touching of a male victim under the age of 14 from September 2000 to 2004 in the region of Valleyfield. He represented himself in court and recommended two years. But on July 14, 2004, he was sentenced to four years of jail time, which this time would not be as comfortably – he was confined to his cell for 23 hours out of 24.
In 2006 Trudeau completed a program for sex offenders and, at the age of 62, was diagnosed with bone marrow cancer. Because of his condition, he was moved to Archambault penitentiary in Ste-Anne-des-Plaines, which had a suitable medical center to treat him. On July 15, 2008, Trudeau was released after a meeting with the National Parole Board who deemed him too low a risk to reoffend, having only months to live. As a release condition, he could not contact minors or the victims of his crimes.
The invincible “Filthy Few” killer was not only untouched by the Hells Angels who wanted his head; he was embraced by the warm arms of the Montreal police who were eager for his first hand information about one of Canada’s most dangerous gangs. However, it was life’s incurable disease that finally slowed down this murderer of 43. True to his gang’s motto, “takin’ care of business”, once released, this 64- year- old man said, “I want to show my mother that I am good.”