| Raynald Desjardins, born in the early 1950s, is probably the most influential non-Italian in the Montreal Mafia since William Obront and Armand Courville.
Desjardins has often been described as one of the country’s most powerful organized crime figures and is alleged to be a multi-millionaire. His sister is married to Jos Di Maulo, reputed to be one of the mob's top members, and his brother, Jacques, has also been linked to organized crime.
Desjardins has often been described as being the right-hand man of Vito Rizzuto, the reputed Godfather of the Montreal Mafia. The two are neighbours in an exclusive neighbourhood of Saraguay, and were seen together taking a vacation to Milan, Italy, in 1984.
On November 10, 1973, according to the CECO, Desjardins and Robert Théoret accompanied Jos Di Maulo on a trip to New York City for a meeting with then-Montreal Mafia boss Paolo Violi and three reputed Bonanno family members, including boss Phil “Rusty” Rastelli.
Desjardins was arrested two times – in 1982 and 1987 – on firearm charges. He skated both times.
On November 30, 1987, the RCMP seized 16 tons of hashish. The drug, with an estimated street value of $350 million, was seized on an island off Newfoundland's north-east coast. Police arrested Desjardins, reputed Mafia kingpin Vito Rizzuto, and several others and charged them with conspiring to traffic in narcotics.
Supreme Court Judge Leo Barry threw out the case against Desjardins after authorities recorded confidential meetings between the accused and their lawyers, jeopardizing their chances at a fair trial.
On May 25, 1993, according to prison filess, Desjardins met with Hells Angels leader Maurice “Mom” Boucher at the club’s Montreal Chapter’s clubhouse. Two months later, during a taped telephone conversation, Desjardins reportedly admitted to attending a Hells Angels party.
On August 25, 1993, police arrested Desjardins and 19 others in connection to a joint venture between the Montreal Mafia and the Hells Angels to import over 700 kilograms of cocaine into the country. $500,000 in cash, firearms, four boats, and several vehicles were seized by authorities.
The cocaine, hidden in ten drain pipes, was brought to Canada by boat to Halifax, Nova Scotia. The pipes were accidentally dropped into the ocean due to mechanical problems on the boat. The group had tried to recover the pipes from the bottom of the ocean but without success. A military submarine would eventually recover the cocaine months later.
Police allege that Desjardins was one of the head organizers of the drug shipment. Among those arrested with him were Hells Angels Quebec City Chapter leaders Richard “Bob” Hudon and André Imbeault, and then-Rockers member Luc “Bordel” Bordeleau.
Desjardins was sentenced to 15 years in prison and fined $150,000 on October 24, 1994. As he was being led back to his cell, he turned back and blew a kiss to his wife, who was sitting in the back of the court room.
Behind bars, Desjardins allegedly ruled like a king. He intimidated both guards and prisoners, according to prison documents, and reportedly conspired to have two prisoners murdered. His cell was like no other, containing a computer, a bookcase, and a special lamp that belonged to the prison’s gymnasium.
Desjardins was unhappy with the worn down prison’s jogging track, and called a friend in the construction business. “I’m paying,” Desjardins told him. The next day, as workers renovated the track, the reputed Mafia figure and several Hells Angels sat in a truck and talked with the contractor.
Shortly after, ordered a truckload of sea food for a party at the prison. Montreal police heard of the matter, and asked prison officials to turn away the truck.
In September, 1995, Desjardins and Anthony Morello were transferred from Leclerc prison to the maximum security Donnacona penitentiary, for allegedly smuggling 50 grams of the chemical drug PCP into the prison with the intent to poison the institution’s 400 employees.
In January, 2003, after having served nine years of his sentence, Desjardins was denied parole for the fifth time. Officials conclufrf that he was still associated with organized crime, and during an unsupervised release, allegedly met with reputed Mafia figure Francesco Cotroni Jr.