MISE À DAY
If someone tells you they're not afraid, it's not true. Everyone feels fear. Me too. But it's just that fear, I manage it.
I do not think about it. Me, I think more about the consequences I risk suffering if I don't react. So when I was doing my jobs back then, I didn't think about fear. If someone said to me: “Go see So-and-so and send him the message”, I went to see him, I left him the message, and that was it. Like shooting him in the leg because he hadn't paid back what he owed us. That's how you get respect in organized crime. OK ? And the guys, in that environment, they know that I'm not kidding. They know that if I have to do something, I will do it.
For me, what brought me into the game was the adrenaline. I am an adrenaline guy. Having guns and going to shoot so-and-so, I liked that. At the time, it didn't bother me. Today, it bothers me a little more. But if I have to, to protect my family or to protect myself, I will. I will have no regrets if I have to. I don't think about fear. It doesn't stop me. You know, there are a lot of people who trust me and who would never imagine what I've been doing for ten years…
For three years, I had been thinking of ways to tell my story. I was looking for someone, among the journalists, to whom I could tell what I am doing. Someone solid and who can be trusted. Then, when the book The Source, on Andrew Scoppa, came out, I took a leap. Because I knew him. And me, I would never have imagined that, you know? Andrew, a mafia leader, who speaks to journalists and who, in addition, collaborates with the police… I read the book. And I said to myself: “Tabarnouche! If he went to see Scoppa and was able to talk like that with him, it's because we can trust him. So that's where I made the decision. I looked up his number. I got it. And I contacted him.
It was May 2021. Journalist Félix Séguin, co-author of the book La Source, was comfortably slumped in his chair after his day's work when a message appeared on his phone. That evening, Séguin had no idea who had texted him. The avatar that the stranger used represented a pirate surmounting two crossed swords.
“Type my name in Google and call me”, he had written to Félix, revealing his identity to him.
Felix complies. The first search result for this name tells him a lot about the character he is dealing with. An article published a few years earlier in Le Journal de Montréal recounts his arrest during a major seizure of drugs and firearms. According to the article, officers seized several pounds of narcotics, including crystal meth, one of the most dangerous synthetic drugs ever produced. They also got their hands on a large quantity of cocaine as well as an arsenal to make the most hardened gangsters green with envy, including automatic weapons that can fire several hundred rounds a minute.
Prison photos obtained from the police accompany the article and show the faces of the arrested suspects. Seeing the sinister look of the man who has just written to him, Félix thinks he's got the job.
Felix decides to reply to the first message. He tells her that he is interested to know more about the reasons that led her to contact him. In response, Félix receives a photo of a Quebec driver's license belonging to a well-known member of the underworld in the Montreal area. The photo is accompanied by a manifesto from the courier and parcel company DHL in the name of this criminal, as well as another snapshot showing 1 kg of cocaine hidden in the gas tank of a car. According to these documents, the man behind these messages appears to be still in business.
Félix is not at the end of his surprises. Following another exchange of messages with his new interlocutor, he is even more intrigued by what he discovers. This is another photo that this individual sends him from a South American country, according to what the journalist guesses. We see 300 kg of coke stacked in a room and ready to be sent to Quebec, according to the words of his interlocutor, who is not stingy with details.
“My friend, just so that you have an idea how it works. We have the small and then the big buyers. The small customers of Montreal, we send them a few kilos a month hidden in car parts. And for the biggest customers, it's hundreds of kilos a month. And it leaves on Air Canada, on the Bogotá-Toronto flight. »
Félix then understands that not only is this mysterious character still involved in the drug trade, but that, if he is telling the truth, he turns out to be a major supplier of cocaine for the Quebec market. In addition, he is currently in Colombia, a country considered to be the world's leading producer of this drug. Each year, he therefore sends, on average, no less than two and a half tons of cocaine to Quebec and Ontario.
There is something to be puzzled about. What could push a drug trafficker of this magnitude to exchange messages with a journalist and reveal his criminal activities, with supporting photos? The answer will completely blow Felix away.
This is what this criminal who has access to small mountains of cocaine reveals to him: he is not content to work for a South American drug cartel, he also collaborates with police forces in Canada, and has been doing so for nearly 10 years old. According to what he confides to the journalist, he would be an informant in particular for the Montreal police and for the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP). Clearly, this would mean that he exports large quantities of coke so far, in full view of the RCMP, of which he would also be a collaborator!
Félix feels this special feeling of excitement that seizes the investigative journalist when he has just come across a huge scoop. He already sees himself going for a trip to the Colombian coke production laboratories with this drug trafficker who is playing a double game with the police…
Besides, at his request and not to not compromise his safety, he will be referred to in this book by a fictitious first name: Angel.
However, throughout the summer of 2021, he is torn between this excitement and concerns about his safety. What if Angel tried to lure him to Colombia to kill him? What if his source was plotting with Montreal criminal groups willing to spend a few thousand dollars to have a journalist eliminated in a country where his killers would probably never be found or punished? Félix shares his fears with one of these colleagues. This one reminds him that he would probably have been dead for a long time if monks of the Montreal underworld had decided so. This is reassuring…
All these questions may be tormenting him, but Félix always trusts his source. The problem is that he knows very little about Angel and the deep motivations that drive this intriguing character to confide in him. Being the good trafficker that he is, Angel does not want to say more on the phone and suggests instead that they meet in person to talk about it. It is from there that Félix will team up with Marc Sandreschi, a former SPVM police officer, who has become one of his journalist colleagues at the Quebecor Investigation Bureau and who is designated to support him in this adventure.< /p>
Marc spent his last years of service in the electronic listening department of the SPVM. He knows the workings of organized crime well and his experience as a police officer makes him an essential teammate for this risky job, believes Félix. In addition, he has a good knowledge of the Spanish language, which will be an asset in Colombia. Thus, at the beginning of December 2021, six months after the initial contact with the source, Félix and Marc made the decision to leave for Colombia in order to get to know Angel.
The duo leaves Montreal-Trudeau airport on December 3. Journalists don't have a suitcase. One hand luggage each is enough for them. Now is not the time to bring the professional cameras, TV cameras and tripods. If they go to Colombia, it is first to have an exploratory meeting with a man who, with the snap of his fingers, could be the target of an assassination. It is therefore necessary to leave with the greatest possible discretion.
After a six-hour night flight, the two journalists land in Colombia. With the help of their bosses from the Bureau of Investigation, they have planned what looks like a commando operation. In order to cover their tracks, they each rented a room at the Hilton in the Chapinero district, in the north of Bogotá, but also in other districts of the capital, so as to be more difficult to trace. The goal is to change hotels and rooms every night, but without checking out. Moreover, the Hilton has not skimped on the means to protect its customers, going so far as to employ dog handlers whose animals are trained to detect any presence of explosives. It must be said that there have been five car bomb attacks in the capital over the past decade. In 2012, an attack targeting the former interior minister Fernando Londoño, which he survived, left 5 dead and 17 injured.
At 5 p.m., shortly after their arrival, Felix and Marc will finally meet this mysterious source who requires nothing less than a face-to-face meeting before saying more. The two journalists flew at night and hardly slept. It was in an Asian fusion restaurant in front of Parque de la 93 that they shook hands with him for the first time. After a few beers and appetizers, Félix heads for the bathroom, leaving Marc alone for a few minutes with Angel.
A relationship of trust quickly develops between the two men. Angel was soon made aware that Marc is a former policeman. He had to be told. In this environment, it is better to play fair. Even before Félix returns from the little corner, Marc has already started to forge links with Angel. He doesn't hesitate to broach personal subjects and express his emotions.
When Felix returns to the table, he sees Angel wiping his eyes: he is having trouble holding back his tears. The trafficker says he has not seen his family for several years. It seems unbearable to him.
The first meeting is a success from all points of view. All three agree to meet again, but this time in a hotel room that was previously rented by the journalists.
The next day, the journalists and Angel meet in room 705 of the Hotel Salvio, an establishment with a trendy decor, located in a well-frequented area, facing the Parque de la 93. Angel arrives directly from the church, who comes from a Catholic family. It is Marc who closes the bedroom door. Angel carries a high-caliber revolver in his belt. “That's for big jobs, when I want to settle it all at once. It does the job, “he says with a smirk, before showing off a 9mm pistol, “for small business”, that one, he adds. He will explain to them later that he prefers the revolver to the pistol, because the first does not jam.
Angel places his two weapons on the table, the barrels pointed directly at the two journalists. They feel uneasy, and Felix asks him to point them in another direction.
Angel is fascinated by firearms. He polishes his proudly. It is this passion for firearms that earned him his nickname on the street, a nickname that he also got tattooed on his left forearm: Cannon.
Shortly after arriving, Angel stares at Felix with his piercing eyes, looking serious but very intense. An uncomfortable silence settles in the room for a few seconds. A bomb explosion wouldn't have moved Angel one bit. It is easy to imagine that he could have intimidated more than one with this facial expression which can become terrifying.
“Listen, my friend,” he begins in a solemn tone. In a few months, my life will change. I am sick. I have heart trouble. And I want my children to remember me for the right reasons. I have done a lot of bad things in my life. But I did good things too. I have been providing information to the SPVM and the RCMP on drug traffickers in Montreal for 10 years. They seized pounds of it, thanks to me. But I want to stop this. »
Félix and Marc finally understand what are the motivations of this Montreal narco expatriate to the kingdom of cocaine. Before stopping everything, Angel agrees to explain to them in detail the role he plays in Colombia to supply Quebec with coke. He will also reveal the underside of his secret collaboration with the police, in front of the camera, during a subsequent meeting, when the two journalists return to Colombia. But today, it's another of his secrets that Angel wants to reveal to them. And not the least.
Before leaving the hotel room, he unbuttons his shirt and begins by showing off a tattoo on his left shoulder: the Santa Muerte, also known as Santisima Muerte. She is the beloved goddess of death, whose origins date back to pre-Hispanic times in Mexico. Mexican traffickers worship him.
“She protects us when we send cargo. Then also, the day when we're going to be killed”, launches Angel in a resigned tone, convinced that his turn will come one day. “We know it's going to happen to us one day, we just don't know when,” he adds in a serene voice, with the expression of a man marked by life.
Then, Angel shows them a final symbol he chose to have drawn on his right shoulder. A big floral tattoo to signify his belonging to a big family. But not just any family: it is the symbol of the Cartel
“I took my tattoo,” he laughs. When you have that, it shows that you belong directly to the cartel. And that you are protected. Want it, don't want it, it's a family. If someone is mad at you, they're going to be in trouble. The only ones who have the right to kill me are them. »
Félix and Marc are stunned. The man who is about to confess is not only a drug trafficker, but a member of the Sinaloa cartel, one of the most dangerous drug cartels in Mexico. And, what makes this story even crazier than it already is, is that he is also a mole for the RCMP and the SPVM.
“If you are there today is that you are a back-up for me, for my protection. By telling you about my life, by making you meet the real world and by explaining to you how it works, people will understand that it doesn't just happen in the movies. Sometimes I tell people stories and they don't believe me. But it's true nonetheless. »