Heavy police presence at court for appearance of biker gang leader

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The man believed to be the leader of a resurrected biker gang appeared briefly in a courtroom in L’Orignal on firearms charges Monday.

Jean-François Émard, 39, is believed to be the boss of the Rock Machine, bikers who fought a bitter and bloody war with the Hells Angels in the 1990s. Émard was joined in court by Pascal Carrier, 47, who also faces firearms charges. 

At the courthouse, the two were surrounded by heavy police security including a dog sniffing for explosives.

The pair were arrested in Casselman Friday night after an altercation at a bar.

Émard is a large, muscular man with short hair and tattoos along his right arm. He has a large tattoo with the symbol “1%” on his neck — a symbol often used by bikers who identify themselves as the small fraction of society that doesn’t follow its rules.

He faces charges of possession of loaded prohibited or restricted handgun; carrying a concealed weapon; obstruction of a peace officer; failure to comply with a probation order; and knowledge of unauthorized possession of a firearm.

Carrier, from Saint-Jean-Sur-Richelieu, Que., is charged with possession of loaded prohibited or restricted handgun; obstruction of a peace officer; and unauthorized possession of a prohibited or restricted firearm. He is also a large man, and wore a black Harley-Davidson T-shirt with a grey skull in the centre.

During the summer of 2014, Émard and others, in interviews with the French language station TVA and La Presse, showed off their gang patches, confirming that the Rock Machine, a gang that had disappeared in 2000, was back in Quebec.

Émard told TVA he was the vice-president of the gang’s worldwide membership. The name Rock Machine alone evokes memories of a violent conflict the gang was involved in against the Hells Angels from 1994 that resulted in the deaths of more than 160 people, including several innocent victims. But in September of 2014, Émard told La Presse the resurrected version of the Rock Machine was not an enemy of the Hells Angels.

In October of 2014, Émard was charged with possession with intent to traffic in methamphetamines, possession of a weapon for a dangerous purpose, possession of $300 suspected of being the proceeds of crime and simple possession of marijuana after a car he was in was pulled over in Valleyfield, Que.

In December 2013, he completed a two-year sentence he received after having pleaded guilty to to three counts of drug trafficking as well as the production of an illegal narcotic.

Both men said they are trying to get legal aid. Both were represented by lawyers — different ones — in court Monday.

The large group of Ontario Provincial Police officers was as striking as the appearance of the two alleged gang members.

There were six uniformed officers inside the courtroom for the two men’s brief appearances — some in regular blue uniforms, some in the green, military-style uniform of OPP tactical officers.

There were more officers just outside the courtroom, checking the identification of anyone going in, writing down their names and birthdays, and going over everyone with a metal detector.

Other officers were outside behind the courthouse beginning an hour or more before the prisoners’ van arrived. That’s where the sniffer dog went to work. When a prisoner arrived at the back door, a second police vehicle swung in close behind the first one and blocked the exit.

Both men are charged with possession of prohibited firearms, resisting police and other offences. They will remain in custody for now, and will appear again before a judge on Thursday — this time by a video link from prison.

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Tom Spears
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