The Millennial Mobsters Who Brought Chaos and the Cartels to the Canadian Underworld
- Random House of Canada
- Initial publish date
- Oct 2021
- Organized Crime, Criminology, Criminals & Outlaws
- Publish Date
- Oct 2021
- List Price
Paperback / softback
- Publish Date
- May 2022
- List Price
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Joined by award-winning Mexican journalist Luis Nájera, leading organized-crime author Peter Edwards introduces a motley assortment of millennial bikers, gangsters and Mafia whose bloody trail of murders and schemes gone wrong led to the arrival in Canada of the world's most dangerous criminal organizations: the drug cartels of Mexico.
A man watching the Euro Cup on a restaurant patio is shot dead on a busy Sunday afternoon in Toronto. Another dies in a sidewalk ambush just outside a bus-tling college campus. Two men in a Vancouver hotel lobby are gunned down in an attack that sends an American soccer star scrambling for cover. In Mexico, a Canadian is killed at a Nuevo Vallarta coffee shop, his death barely registering amidst the terrifying death tolls of President Calderón’s war on drugs and the cartels’ response; while a Montreal cop is beaten within an inch of his life in a Playa del Carmen nightclub. An infamous heckler from an NBA Toronto Raptors game turns up dead in a bullet-riddled car in a midtown lane-way. Throughout the 2010s, these and other disparate acts of violence entered the public awareness like iso-lated tragedies—but there was nothing isolated about them.
In this masterly investigation, veteran journalists Peter Edwards and Luis Nájera introduce readers to the common cause of a near-decade of chaos. Meet the Wolfpack, millennial-aged gangsters from across the spectrum of Canada’s underworld. Vying to fast-track their way into the criminal void left by the death of Montreal godfather Vito Rizzuto, the Wolfpack sought advantage in a steady supply of cocaine from El Chapo Guzmán’s Sinaloa cartel, among the deadliest and most far-reaching of criminal organizations. The juniors had just stepped into the big leagues.
This is the roiling landscape of The Wolfpack, a brilliant examination of a time of criminal disruption and rapid adaptation, when one gang’s unchecked ambition unwittingly gave away the most hotly contested corner of the Canadian underworld without a fight. Brazen criminal disruptors or entitled upstarts looking to get rich without paying their dues--whatever you think of them, you will never forget the Wolfpack.
About the authors
PETER EDWARDS, crime reporter for the Toronto Star, is the author of ten books, including the highly praised One Dead Indian: The Premier, the Police and the Ipperwash Crisis. Edwards has been nominated four times for the Arthur Ellis Award and has been interviewed about organized crime forthe Mob Stories and Outlaw Biker series for History Television. A two-hour History Television documentary on The Bandido Massacre is currently in development. Edwards works in Toronto. Visit www.bandidomassacre.com.
Excerpt: The Wolfpack: The Millennial Mobsters Who Brought Chaos and the Cartels to the Canadian Underworld (by (author) Peter Edwards & Luis Najera)
My relationship with Juan Carlos began through his attraction to my close friend. As the new kid in our town, he approached me looking for a wingman to help set them up. Eventually I agreed and began organizing quick trips after class or during recess to a Mexican fast-food place near our high school. I invited Juan Carlos to join us under the pretext of helping him get to know his new peers. Despite his efforts, his romantic endeavours with my friend failed. I asked her why she had rejected him. She replied, in a sombre tone, “There’s something in his eyes that doesn’t seem right.”
Juan Carlos was a quiet, discreet, slim guy with a big moustache and cowboy boots who enrolled in our school just to complete his final year. He had moved from Guadalajara to our smaller town, nearly six hundred kilometres away. Guadalajara was then, in the late eighties, home to the notorious group led by Mexico’s original Padrino (Godfather), Miguel Ángel Félix Gallardo. In his seventies today, Gallardo is a historic figure in the world of global drug trafficking. He transformed transnational organized crime by assigning territories across the country to distinct cocaine trafficking groups later self-identified as the Gulf, Juárez, Tijuana and Sinaloa cartels. Protected by corrupt authorities, Gallardo’s own Guadalajara Cartel operated as an umbrella for smaller groups that worked mostly within the Golden Triangle, a mountainous area located between the states of Durango, Sinaloa and Chihuahua, towards the country’s northwest. Because of its altitude, weather and access to the US border and the Pacific Ocean, the region is ideal for harvesting marijuana and heroin and then smuggling it north into the world’s largest illicit drug market. One of the organizations doing this work, and doing it under the protection of the Guadalajara Cartel, was led by the father of my new classmate.
As the school year continued, Juan Carlos revealed more about himself. He was the first person I had ever met with a connection to the drug trade. That said, he never offered me or any other students marijuana joints, heroin balls or carefully folded packages of cocaine. As I look back to 1988, it was clear Juan Carlos had learned to be careful. He was being groomed to inherit his father’s place as the leader of a drug trafficking organization.
One day that spring, classes finished early and Juan Carlos surprised some friends and me with an invitation to spend the day at his family’s place in the suburbs. The “place” was a farm with a spacious two-bedroom house, a separate bungalow and a barn located in a semi-rural area outside of the city. The property was well known in the community because it was enclosed by walls as tall as any other house in the area and was often visited by small groups of brand-new pickup trucks with tinted windows. Word on the street was that the house was owned by someone influential, either a politician or a drug lord, who enjoyed throwing parties that frequently extended for days and included beautiful women and famous musicians, all hired to perform.
Minutes after we arrived at the property, our host left in his white Ford pickup. About thirty minutes later, he returned with beer, ice and chips—and lots of them. That was the first of many parties—all-inclusive ones—that Juan Carlos threw for his classmates, and they quickly turned him into the most popular guy in school. He seemed to enjoy his new status, despite the quiet, calm personality that he maintained even after drinking a few beers. I don’t remember ever seeing him drunk, even as the parties raged around him.
Perhaps because our relationship had begun before his surge in popularity, and because my family made sure I wasn’t a partier like most of our classmates, my friendship with Juan Carlos matured in trust. That gave me a chance to know who he really was, and to confirm what my friend had meant when she’d said something about his eyes didn't “seem right.”
“Do you like guns?” Juan Carlos asked me one day as we were driving across town in his pickup.
“Yes, I do like guns, who doesn’t!” I replied. My attitude was typical teenager macho-stupid, deeply influenced by the culture of weapons that still exists in Northern Mexico.
He smiled and, as he continued driving, pulled a Colt .38 Super pistol out from under his seat. It was an automatic gun popular among drug traffickers—particularly among those working up in the mountains— because of its reliability, heft and firepower. “Have you seen one of these?” he asked, handing it to me.
I grew up in a small town where men carried guns, so seeing a pistol was not unusual, but handling a loaded one without adult supervision was a new experience, as exciting as it was imprudent. After holding the gun for a few minutes, and once the initial excitement passed, the future journalist in me came out. “Why do you need to carry a gun?” I asked.
Juan Carlos smiled. “You never know when it may be helpful to have it with you.”
As the end of the term approached, my admiration for Juan Carlos was diluted by the excitement of plans to move to a new city to begin my undergrad studies in communications. One day after school, during the final weeks of classes, Juan Carlos and I talked about our futures. He told me he would move back to Guadalajara to study business administration at a private university. Again, my incipient reporter rose up and I asked: “Why do you want to study that?” I guess I judged the book by its cover, because in my view, Juan Carlos didn’t fit the mould of an entrepreneur, store manager or businessman, particularly when driving a pickup with a loaded gun.
He looked at me and smiled, and bam! A glimpse of the person taking shape behind the moustache appeared. “My family thinks I need to go to school and learn business administration; they think it would be best for us, and for nuestro negocio—our business,” he said, as his facial expression hardened. Right in front of me, he transformed from a quiet high school student into a cold-hearted adult. I required no additional explanations to understand the nature of the business and the source of the money, the house in the suburbs, the need for a gun and the secrecy Juan Carlos always kept about his family and himself. His future plans involved becoming part of the new generation of drug kingpins: more educated, not addicted to drugs, tech savvy and with a less flamboyant lifestyle than their predecessors.
An awkward silence, then an unexpected invitation: “Would you like to work for us?”
Other titles by Peter Edwards
Linteaux de Paris
Lintels of Paris
Bernie Guindon and the Reign of the Satan's Choice Motorcycle Club
The Biker's Brother
Bad Blood (Business or Blood TV Tie-in)
Business or Blood: Mafia Boss Vito Rizzuto's Last War
Business or Blood
Mafia Boss Vito Rizzuto's Last War
The Strange and (Sometimes) Terrible Life of Lorne Campbell, Satan's Choice and Hells Angels Biker
The Encyclopedia of Canadian Organized Crime
From Captain Kidd to Mom Boucher
Bandido Massacre, The
A True Story Of Bikers, Brotherhood And Be
A True Story Of Bikers, Brotherhood And Betraya