Well guarded F1 parties

Not only tourists use the Grand Prix to go to the city’s trendy bars, but also criminals of all stripes who see it as a networking experience.

• Also read: On the edge of the Grand Prix: a bang against sexual exploitation

• Also read: Formula 1: an uncomfortable budget ceiling

• Also read: Grand Prix: Dealers make golden deals

“Tonight we want to spoil ourselves in terms of intelligence,” said Commander David Paradis at the beginning of Friday evening to the approximately fifty police officers present at the headquarters of the Service de Police de la Ville de Montréal (SPVM).


COBRA with Montreal Police Department SPVM Headquarters Friday, June 17, 2022 Montreal, Quebec, Canada PHOTO : MARTIN ALARIE / JOURNAL DE MONTREAL

The Eclipse team, tasked primarily with combating armed violence and gathering intelligence on criminal groups in the city, will not be idle on this second day of the Grand Prix du Canada celebrations.


COBRA with Montreal Police Department SPVM Headquarters Friday, June 17, 2022 Montreal, Quebec, Canada PHOTO : MARTIN ALARIE / JOURNAL DE MONTREAL

Accompanied by colleagues from Laval, Longueuil, Roussillon and the Sûreté du Québec, the force’s police and intelligence agents spent the night criss-crossing facilities on prominent Montreal streets watching criminals.


COBRA with Montreal Police Department SPVM Headquarters Friday, June 17, 2022 Montreal, Quebec, Canada PHOTO : MARTIN ALARIE / JOURNAL DE MONTREAL

Arriving at an open-air club on Peel Street at 9 p.m., the police officers of about fifteen spot a table with several familiar faces, already pouring wine and fort.


COBRA with Montreal Police Department SPVM Headquarters Friday, June 17, 2022 Montreal, Quebec, Canada PHOTO : MARTIN ALARIE / JOURNAL DE MONTREAL

Filmed by customers

The target customers quickly whip out their cell phones to film the scene as police officers stand in a line trying to recognize faces and take down the names of those present.

It is estimated that around 80% of the twenty people in this container, which was converted for the occasion, are known to police circles.


COBRA with Montreal Police Department SPVM Headquarters Friday, June 17, 2022 Montreal, Quebec, Canada PHOTO : MARTIN ALARIE / JOURNAL DE MONTREAL

“If they have guns, they will remain silent,” said Lieutenant Detective Pierre-Marc Houle.

About twenty minutes later, the police squad continue their way to the back of this ephemeral bar. One table catches her eye because outlaw bikers, including some Hells Angels, are sitting there.


COBRA with Montreal Police Department SPVM Headquarters Friday, June 17, 2022 Montreal, Quebec, Canada PHOTO : MARTIN ALARIE / JOURNAL DE MONTREAL

People who were previously noticed at the front and who themselves have connections to street gangs then join them.

“The two of them are talking,” notes one agent.

At 10 p.m., the police squad finally left the scene and continued down Peel Street in the rain, which deterred several tourists and race car enthusiasts.


COBRA with Montreal Police Department SPVM Headquarters Friday, June 17, 2022 Montreal, Quebec, Canada PHOTO : MARTIN ALARIE / JOURNAL DE MONTREAL

Agents attract attention

Its imposing presence catches the eye of passers-by.

“It’s an army!” I haven’t done anything! laughs a young man as he walks past them.

“Oh shit!” calls a young woman a few meters away.


COBRA with Montreal Police Department SPVM Headquarters Friday, June 17, 2022 Montreal, Quebec, Canada PHOTO : MARTIN ALARIE / JOURNAL DE MONTREAL

Photo Martin Alari

COBRA with Montreal Police Department SPVM Headquarters Friday, June 17, 2022 Montreal, Quebec, Canada PHOTO : MARTIN ALARIE / JOURNAL DE MONTREAL

From the sidewalk, patrol officers peer out onto the terraces of the various restaurants, where lobster and other delicacies line the tables.

They also discuss with bouncers and establishment owners to make new connections.

“Sometimes they call us back afterwards if they see something,” says Mr. Houle.


COBRA with Montreal Police Department SPVM Headquarters Friday, June 17, 2022 Montreal, Quebec, Canada PHOTO : MARTIN ALARIE / JOURNAL DE MONTREAL

At around 10:40 p.m., police advanced into the trendy bar of a five-star hotel on Drummond Street, where a small line had already formed outside.


COBRA with Montreal Police Department SPVM Headquarters Friday, June 17, 2022 Montreal, Quebec, Canada PHOTO : MARTIN ALARIE / JOURNAL DE MONTREAL

In the luxurious rooms, which sometimes serve as a restaurant, sometimes as a club, you don’t feel welcome from the first minute.


COBRA with Montreal Police Department SPVM Headquarters Friday, June 17, 2022 Montreal, Quebec, Canada PHOTO : MARTIN ALARIE / JOURNAL DE MONTREAL

disturbing presence

A sign that sex tourism is in full swing, local police were able to observe “offerings of services.”


COBRA with Montreal Police Department SPVM Headquarters Friday, June 17, 2022 Montreal, Quebec, Canada PHOTO : MARTIN ALARIE / JOURNAL DE MONTREAL

“Our presence here is somewhat unsettling,” said Agent Martin Bernard.

But her visit to this establishment was ultimately not in vain. A few steps from the exit, the police encounter a key player in Montreal’s Italian mafia, visibly annoyed by their presence.


COBRA with Montreal Police Department SPVM Headquarters Friday, June 17, 2022 Montreal, Quebec, Canada PHOTO : MARTIN ALARIE / JOURNAL DE MONTREAL

The agents won’t bother him, but promise to come back at 4am at the end of their night to make a note of who he’ll be sitting with.


COBRA with Montreal Police Department SPVM Headquarters Friday, June 17, 2022 Montreal, Quebec, Canada PHOTO : MARTIN ALARIE / JOURNAL DE MONTREAL

♦ Because Friday night’s Eclipse operations were targeting customers and not the facilities themselves, The newspaper I preferred not to give the names of the places visited.

The objectives of Operation Night Watch

  • Ensuring security around bars and indoors
  • Responding to gun violence in bars and licensed establishments
  • Fight against pimping as part of the Grand Prix
  • Gather information about criminals seen in the places visited

police everywhere

  • The SPVM Eclipse group welcomed colleagues from the Laval, Longueuil, Roussillon and Sûreté du Québec police departments over the weekend.

“There are individuals who will come [des banlieues] Our police officers don’t necessarily know that, so it makes our work easier,” explains SPVM commander David Paradis.

  • The fifty or so police officers were then able to share valuable information about people living in other cities.
  • Several of these police forces also met last May during the first Hells Angels-affiliated party since the pandemic began.

“It’s a practice we’d like to suggest more regularly because we’re much more effective when we do it that way,” says Mr. Paradis.

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