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Nasty Business: One Biker Gang’s Bloody War Against the Hells Angels

by Peter Paradis

In the early 1990s, 28-year-old coke dealer Peter Paradis staked out sales territory in Montreal’s Verdun district and proceeded to make a small fortune. Paradis eventually got heavily into his own merchandise, and started living the narco vida loca: “I had no close friends, though I attracted lots of hangers-on who stroked my ego in exchange for the coke I’d throw around like confetti and a chance to bed the girls who hovered around.” In 1994 Paradis crashed and burned, and at his lowest point he met a man with a plan, a “calm, almost fatherly” guy in sunglasses and black leather vest.

The man was Renaud, president of the Rock Machine, a loose group of independent drug dealers/bikers who were planning to take over the southwest side of Montreal. Paradis was swiftly inducted into the Rock Machine: given girls, cash, low-level dope duties; he helped with members-only hockey games and cleaned up after screenings of Braveheart in the clubhouse.

But all too soon he was losing his colleagues to explosions and sniper attacks: almost the moment Paradis graduated to “full patch” status, the Hells Angels intensified their war against the Rock Machine. The violence eventually claimed 170 lives. Paradis’ wasn’t one of them, as he had decided to testify for the Crown against the bikers. Today Paradis is a diminished, sobered-up soul, living in a witness protection program.

His no-nonsense tale, full of insider details both shocking and mundane, is a perfect endorsement of the Addicts Anonymous motto: “What starts as fun – with a few problems – turns into no fun and all problems.” Paradis’ epilogue contains an astute summary of the attractions of gangs and drugs for unmoored young males: “No father or functional family? Well, a biker gang can make a good substitute, full of fake camaraderie and good times. No money? Not for long. No women? They can be bought or impressed by the violent biker lifestyle. No emotions? Perfect, because whatever feelings you have before joining will have to be buried in a cave to protect that stereotypical fearless image.”

Lost boys, drugs, gangs: this is an always-old and always-new story, told here as only a survivor could.