The Wolfpack: Book details Mexican cartels' dealings with new era of Canadian organized crime
TORONTO -- A new book detailing the links between Mexico’s drug cartels and the tech-savvy, diverse and widespread organized crime group in Canada known as the “Wolfpack,” was released Tuesday.
In “The Wolfpack,” authors Luis Horacio Najera and Peter Edwards use their decades of experience writing about organized crime, both in Canada and Mexico, to detail how organized crime operates in Canada after a group of millennial hotshot gangsters sought to fill the void left by the death of Montreal godfather Vito Rizzuto.
The Wolfpack, made up of an ethnically diverse, geographically distant hodgepodge of Canadian underground criminals, worked to bring in a steady supply of cocaine from El Chapo Guzman’s Sinaloa cartel to Canada through the ports and skies of Vancouver, Toronto, and Montreal.
“They're bonded by the internet, not by geography,” said Edwards, describing the Wolfpack in an interview with CTVNews.ca Tuesday. “Some are in Vancouver, some are in Montreal, some are in Toronto and it doesn’t really matter – they can move around.”
Edwards said that greatly distinguished them from the organized crime groups he wrote about decades ago that operated in a “geographic centre.”
“You could say, ‘that group is from Woodbridge, those groups from Simcoe Street and Oshawa,’” he said. “With the Wolfpack, there isn’t a place, there’s just a shared feeling or need for the internet.”
Najera said in an interview with CTVNews.ca that the internet has changed everything when it comes to organized crime.
“Technology, the internet, changes a lot of dynamics of power, relationships, contacts and businesses, both legal and illegal…the internet became a platform where they don’t necessarily need to be physically together always,” he said. “Do you remember in the old days or in the movies where the Mafiosos got together in a dark place, or ugly warehouse, and they sit and discuss business? Those times are pretty much over now.”
The book details just how much technology played a part in how the Wolfpack operated, with pages of encrypted texts included, showing how the members planned to move tonnes of cocaine, vented about girlfriend troubles, and planned assassinations.
The cast of Canadian characters include the head of the Wolfpack, Rabih “Robby” Alkhalil, Hells Angel Larry Amero, hit-man Dean Michael Wiwchar, gangsters John Raposo and Martino Caputo, plus other members of the Red Scorpions, Hells Angels and the United Nations gang, and factions from Italian, Irish and Portuguese crime family syndicates.
The authors managed to gain access to those texts and a myriad of other intricate details thanks to one of the criminals, Niagara cocaine kingpin and Wolfpack member Nick Nero, who left a Blackberry in the open with a sticky note listing his encrypted login and password - something that was promptly picked up by police upon his arrest in 2013.
“Nero,” as he is referred to in the book, holds the dubious honour of being described as “dumb as a bag of hair,” a title that the authors said can’t be extended to the Wolfpack’s Mexican cartel counterparts.
“The level of sophistication of the cartels surprised me,” Edwards said. “These aren’t drug users, these aren’t dumb guys, these are smart people who know what they are doing…they’re holding back cocaine so that they can influence the market so they can sell it to both sides...the pandemic didn’t seem to hurt them one bit.”
Mexico has been in the grip of cartel violence for decades and the book details the graphic violence that has become all too regular in the headlines.
On occasion, a Canadian gets swept up, such as the off-duty Montreal police officer on vacation in 2011 who was beaten so badly for taking pictures of another officer exchanging niceties with Hells Angels and other gang members that he required extensive surgery.
The Wolfpack book reveals the officer was near a notorious meeting place in Cancun for gang members from around the world, and gives a more nuanced idea of how tightly wound organized crime in Canada is to Mexico’s underworld.
The authors said they hope their book outlines just how extensive the illegal drug trade is in Canada, how authorities need to move beyond busts, and how the narrative on drugs and substance abuse need to change.
“It's not just the Wolfpack as a group, it's them as a process,” Edwards said. “Even when the Wolfpack is long forgotten, what they've done is show the new way of moving drugs.”
“You've got to be looking at where the money goes, how much gets invested here, how much goes into real estate, how much goes into other things, I mean, that's the next phase,” he continued.
Najera echoed that sentiment.
“You need to follow the money and also to rethink the way that the government, but also… society, are perceiving the use and abuse of illegal drugs…this is a public health problem and the narrative has to change,” Najera said.
And for those who think the violence that has plagued Mexico couldn’t make its way to Canada, Najera, who dedicated the book to 12 fellow journalists who had been assassinated or lost their lives writing about the cartels, had a grim warning.
“Don't underestimate the power of criminal organizations,” Najera said of the cartels and their Canadian counterparts. “Sometimes you think, ‘these guys are killing each other in Mexico, we are safe here.’
“No…they have tentacles all over the world and they have muscle that, if required, they are going to flex,” he continued. “The consequences are going to be terrible.”