André "Dédé" Desjardins
Independent Criminals
    André Desjardins was born  in 1931 and grew up in and around south-central Montreal. Over the  years, he would  become one of  the city's most  successful loansharks and, because of his involvement in Quebec unions, earned the label of the "King of Construction." He also developed close ties with some of Montreal's toughest thugs, including members of the Montreal Mafia and the Hells Angels.

     He began his construction career when he was only 14 years old, working as an  apprentice  plumber, but  that  didn't stop  him from  using other  methods to make  money. He was first arrested  in 1949 and would be convicted of robbery on three other occasions.

     From  the
Café Évangéline, Desjardins built up  a considerable  client for his loansharking business. He became so successful that he began supplying  money to other  criminals  so that  they  could begin  lending out  money on  their  own. Among  his  friends were  Eugene Lafort, Gérald Fontaine, father of  Hells Angel Paul "Fon Fon" Fontaine, and members of the Devils Disciples motorcycle gang.

     After joining Local 144 of  the United Association of  Plumbers and Pipefitters in 1957, Desjardins quickly  rose  through  the  syndicate's  ranks. In 1974, while  he served  as the  union's president, he was  accused of  inciting violence when $30 million worth of  damage was carried out during  a fight between members of  the Quebec Federation of  Labourers and  the Confederation of  National Trade Unions at the construction site of the LG2 James Bay hydro-electic project.

     The next year, Desjardins appeared before the Cliche commission, who was  investigating  violent crimes in  the  construction  industry. He was  accused of  using  extortion  tactics  to have  gottened vacation cheques paid early for workers on strike.

     Desjardins handed  in his dismissal in 1976, after the  commission  confirmed  his connections  to organized crime. Even  after this, according to authorities, he continued  to exercise  a certain amount of influence with the smaller Quebec unions.

     Around  this time, he opened several  legitimate  businesses, usually  in other  people's  names, including  two  jewelry  shops, a furniture  store, a restaurant  in Laval, and  a 25 room motel in the Domican Republic, where he spent much of his time. 

     Desjardins made  headlines  again in  the early 1980s. He was  arrested once on  a charge of robbing car tires  and, with union executive  Raynald Bertrand, of conspiring  to incite union  members to  refuse work. He was acquitted both times.

     In July, 1983, the United States government  processed  a request with
Canadian  authorities for  Desjardins' extradition to  Florida in  connection  with  William Obront's $50 million-a-year drug ring that brought millions of phony quaaludes  into the United States. The network was responsible for 70 percent of  the quaalude market  in the country and  Desjardins' name came up as a possible supplier. To the surprise of the public, Desjardins was never picked up by police. 

     Desjardins was gunned  down on  April 27, 2000  after  eating  breakfast at 
Shawn's restaurant on Metropolitan  Boulevard in Saint-Leonard. He was walking  towards his sports-utility vehicle when  he was shot several times. A semi-automatic firearm equipped with  a silencer was found near  the body. Investigators spotted  had him having lunch with  Maurice "Mom" Boucher, chief of the  Hells Angels Nomads chapter, the day before.
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