Monday, May 23, 2011

Wikileaks Montreal Cable: Mohawks 2004
Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
04MONTREAL874 2004-06-23 20:42 2011-05-03 09:30 CONFIDENTIAL
Consulate Montreal
Appears in these articles:
This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.

232042Z Jun 04id: 18097
date: 6/23/2004 20:42
refid: 04MONTREAL874
origin: Consulate Montreal
classification: CONFIDENTIAL
destination: 04MONTREAL68

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text
of the original cable is not available.
232042Z Jun 04
----------------- header ends ----------------



E.O. 12958: DECL: 06/22/2009





¶B. B) QUEBEC 80

Classified By: Bernadette Allen, Consul General, Montreal, State. Reas

on: 1.5(B)

¶1. (C) SUMMARY: The Mohawk territory of Kanesatake has

become a haven for marijuana cultivation, drug dealing, arms

possession, and other organized criminal activity, ousted

Grand Chief James Gabriel told Consulate representatives on

June 17. Gabriel, who has not been able to return to

Kanesatake since his home was burned to the ground in

January, said that the specter of the 1990 Oka crisis and

fear of deadly violence, have prevented the Surete du Quebec

and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police from taking action.


¶2. (C) Accompanied by aid Dean Dussault, Grand Chief James

Gabriel spoke to Consulate officers for over an hour and a

half about the trouble-plagued Kanesatake reserve, one of

three Mohawk territories in the province of Quebec.

Kanesatake (population 1,400) located on the North shore of

the Saint Lawrence river some 50 kilometers from Montreal,

was the sight of the 1990 Oka crisis, in which opposition to

the expansion of a golf course on Mohawk burial grounds led

to a summer-long stand-off between Mohawk warriors and SQ

officers and Canadian Forces and resulted in the death of an

SQ officer.

¶3. (C) Chief Gabriel said that the narcotics trade in

Kanesatake took off in the mid-1990s. He noted that there

had been an SQ intervention in 1995, led by then Quebec

Public Security Minister Serge Menard, in which 20 to 30

acres and 100,000 marijuana plants were destroyed, yet no

arrests were made. After the raids, marijuana cultivation

moved inside, with as many as five underground bunkers

constructed to house hydroponic grow-operations on the

territory. Gabriel estimated that between five and seven

hundred pounds of marijuana is smuggled off the territory

each week, for export to the United States. Gabriel said

that the drug traffic now also includes heroin and other hard

drug sales. Gabriel believes that an investigation of the

money trail would show that the local bank in Oka sued by

Kanesatake residents, the XXXXXXXXXXX, is awash in large

American dollar deposits.

¶4. (C) Chief Gabriel identified the leaders of the narcotics

trade as XXXXXXXXXXXX and XXXXXXXXXXXX (both of whom are related to

James Gabriel) and said they are affiliated with the Hells'

Angels biker gang, and to a lesser extent, Chinese and

Russian mafia groups. According to James Gabriel, Robert

Gabriel, has never had a full-time job -- and his wife

recently applied for welfare -- yet Robert lives in a home

worth several hundred thousand dollars and drives expensive


¶5. (C) Gabriel was first elected Kanesatake Grand Chief in

2001, though in effect he led a minority government as four

of the seven Band Council members were "less than

enthusiastic about law enforcement." However, in July 2003

elections, Gabriel gained a majority; he and three other

Council members took a decision to bring the territory's

ineffective police force "back up to par" and Gabriel began

talking to the SQ and RCMP about support for action against

the criminal elements that had taken root on the reserve.

Gabriel said that plans to replace the police chief and bring

in an outside aboriginal police unit were leaked, however,

and the new force got "boxed in" at police headquarters on

January 12, leading to the 30-hour blockade by masked, armed

men surrounding the station (see Ref. A).

¶6. (C) Quebec Public Security Minister Jacques Chagnon's

negotiation of a temporary fix -- which reinstated the old

police chief and brought in Mohawk peacekeepers from the

near-by Kahnawake reserve to serve as an interim police force

-- was mainly "an image-boosting" exercise, according to

Gabriel. The peacekeepers did little to police the territory

and ultimately left in March. There has been no real

policing in Kanesatake since January, Gabriel said.

¶7. (C) The three chiefs on the Band Council who side with

Gabriel, Chiefs Clarence Simon, Marie Chene and Doreen

Canatonquin, remain in Kanesatake but are keeping low

profiles because they face harassment by people loyal to the

dissident chiefs and criminal gangs. Gabriel said that the

dissident chiefs, John Harding, and Pearl and Steven

Bonspile, periodically make appearances in the media,

"wrapping themselves in the cloak of Mohawk sovereignty."

Gabriel said that the whole Band Council never meets; when

decisions have to be taken regarding the administration of

the territory, Gabriel meets with Chiefs Simon, Chene and

Contonquin at the hotel in Laval (about two kilometers from

Kanesatake) where Gabriel has lived since January. The

dissident chiefs have called for an election on July 14 to

choose a new Grand Chief, claiming that James Gabriel has

abandoned the territory. But James Gabriel says that there

is no way a fair election, supervised by an impartial,

outside monitoring organization, can be held in July. James

Gabriel said that any election will have to be delayed;

lawyers have advised him that the current Band Council could

remain in power for a few months beyond their mandate if

conditions do not permit an election.

¶8. (C) Gabriel has been in continuous dialogue with the SQ

and RCMP to reestablish a police force, but to date, police

officers have only patrolled the highway surrounding

Kanesatake, and not actually entered the territory. The SQ

has been working with a Mohawk police force in preparation to

re-enter the territory, but so far has held back entering

Kanesatake, leading to much frustration on the Mohawks' part.

Gabriel said that there has been friction recently between

the Mohawk police and their SQ sponsors; cooperation has been

threatened by a personnel dispute, and mistrust on both

sides. At bottom, the Mohawk force would like to enter the

territory and begin enforcing the law; the SQ feels the time

is not right, and that violence would ensue if either or both

the SQ and the Mohawk force were to go into Kanesatake.

¶9. (C) Though it is clear that Gabriel is in close contact

with the Quebec government (which is putting him up in the

Laval hotel), Gabriel expressed deep frustration over the

unwillingness of either the Quebec or federal government to

bring law and order to Kanesatake. Though the Oka crisis has

been repeatedly raised by the Quebec media and government

officials, Gabriel said the current situation is very

different from 1990, when the Kanesatake population and

Mohawks from the other Quebec reserves supported the Mohawk

warriors' stance. He said that the traditional Mohawk

Warrior Society, which stood up during the Oka crisis, and

"the group of thugs" calling itself warriors in Kanesatake

today are different. Other First Nations tribes in Quebec

have been supportive of Gabriel, citing their concern about

the vulnerability of their own native communities to

organized crime infiltration. Gabriel said that the only

support that the dissident Chiefs have been able to summon is

from professional activists like Jaggi Singh and Sean Brandt.

And, contrary to claims made by SQ officials to the Quebec

Consul General in May (see Ref B), Gabriel says there has

been no influx of Mohawks from other reserves, in Canada or

the Untied States.

¶10. (C) Gabriel is disheartened by the Quebec Security

Minister Jacques Chagnon's repeated characterizations of the

problem as a dispute between Mohawk factions that an election

could resolve. He feels that Chagnon, supported by Quebec

Premier Jean Charest, simply wants the Kanesatake situation

to be "quiet," even if the drug trade and criminal activity

flourish. But Gabriel said that young people on the

territory -- who have few employment opportunities -- are

influenced by the apparent affluence and lifestyles of the

drug dealers and criminals. He believes the criminal

activity problems will only grow worse, as more community

members are drawn into it.

¶11. (C) Gabriel also cited fears of people "taking the law

into their own hands." He said that people on both sides of

the conflict have arms in Kanesatake. According to (James)

Gabriel, in addition to hunting weapons XXXXXXXXXXXX has

explosives, assault weapons and rocket launchers. "Most of

our community members can recognize the sound of an AK-47,"

Gabriel said. Gabriel and his aid Dussault both emphasized

the difficulty for the "silent majority" in Kanesatake to

speak out in their small community against criminals that

everyone knows and sees often. But given the prevalence of

weaponry on the territory, Gabriel said he is very afraid

that "blood feuds" will surface."

¶12. (U) Grand Chief Gabriel gave an exclusive interview to

the Journal de Montreal on the same day he visited the

Consulate. During the course of the interview, he revealed

something he had mentioned briefly to us: the fact that for

the past year Kanesatake has been under the administrative

supervision of the Ministry of Indian Affairs, assigned to a

PricewaterhouseCoopers accountant working full-time from an

office in Oka (situated next to the Kanesatake territory).

According to Gabriel, Kanesatake had racked up an accumulated

deficit of C$4 million by 2003. Ottawa had imposed financial

supervision prior to Gabriel's attaining the majority on the

Band Council that year, Gabriel emphasized.

¶13. (U) The tabloid Journal focused on the fact that part of

the territory's deficit stemmed from mortgage payments made

on individual Kanesatake homes -- including that of Robert

Gabriel -- that the Ministry of Indian Affairs deducted from

Kanesatake's budget. Apparently, the Ministry customarily

co-signs mortgage loans for native applicants. According to

what James Gabriel told Le Journal, when Robert Gabriel was

unable to make payments on his $185,000 mortgage, the

Ministry of Indian Affairs paid the debt in full, subtracted

the sum from the Band Council's budget, and transferred the

property -- a large mansion with a pool -- to the Council's

ownership. However, Robert Gabriel and his family continued

to live there. Robert Gabriel, who has been accused of

participating in the January 12 riot and blockade at the

police station, is under court order currently to stay away

from Kanesatake.

¶14. (C) Gabriel's story conforms to information gathered

from law enforcement contacts of the Consulate. There is

indeed great concern on the part of both the federal and

provincial police about the arms on the territory, and the

deadly confrontations that could result if a full-scale raid

were to be mounted and a new police unit installed. We

understand that an RCMP force would be prepared to enter

Kanesatake territory if "something blows" and violence

occurs, but for now, both the SQ and the RCMP are holding

back. The fate of James Gabriel and his Mohawk police force

remains to be seen. He told us that he is concerned the

Kanesatake situation will fade from he public eye if

enforcement actions are not taken soon. But he was equally

certain that the territory is a tinderbox, ready to explode.


=======================CABLE ENDS============================

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