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Montreal's Irish Mafia: The True Story of the Infamous West End Gang [Paperback]

D'Arcy O'Connor
3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)

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Book Description

March 28 2011
Their names resonate with organized crime in Montreal: the Matticks, MacAllisters, Johnstons and Griffins, and Peter Dunie Ryan. They are the Irish equivalent of the infamous Rizzuto and Cotroni families, and the "Mom" Bouchers and Walter Stadnicks of the Hells Angels. Award-winning producer, journalist and author D’Arcy O’Connor narrates the genesis and rise to power of one of Montreal’s most powerful, violent and colorful criminal organizations. It is the West End Gang, whose members controlled the docks and fought the Hells Angels and Mafia for their share of the city’s prostitution, gambling, loan sharking and drug dealing. At times, they did not disdain forging alliances with rival gangs when huge profits were at stake, or when a killing needed to be carried out. 

The West End Gang—the Irish Mafia of Montreal—is a legendary beast. They sprang out of the impoverished southwest of the city, some looking for ways to earn enough just to survive, some wanting more than a job in an abattoir or on a construction site. In that sense, they were no different from other immigrants from Italy and other European countries. A shortcut to wealth was their common goal. And Montreal, with its burgeoning post-WWII population, was ripe for the picking.

The Irish Mob made headlines with a spectacular Brinks robbery in 1976, using the money to broker a major heroin and cocaine trafficking ring. It took over the Port of Montreal, controlling the flow of drugs into the city, drugs which the Mafia funnelled to New York. The West End Gang had connections to the cocaine cartel in Colombia; hashish brokers in Morocco and France; and marijuana growers in Mexico. The gang imported drugs on an enormous scale. One bust that took place off the coast of Angola in 2006 involved 22.5 tonnes of hashish, destined for Montreal. 

The West End Gang is a ripping tale that unveils yet another chapter in Montreal’s colorful criminal underworld.

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From the Back Cover

“There is No Irish Mafia” – Billy MacAllister

Since the city was founded, the gritty southwest end of Montreal has been a ghetto for immigrant laborers in the last century, the majority of them Irish. Choked by poverty, alcoholism and violence, and with little hope of improving their lot through legal means, some in the community turned to the underworld in search of easier work and better pay, and the risks be damned. Considered by some to be a close-knit and hierarchical cooperative, characterized by others as loose associates who have trouble turning down an opportunity for a quick score, Montreal’s Irish mafia—otherwise known as the West End Gang—has managed to pull off some of the most daring and logistically complicated robberies and smuggling operations in Canadian history.

From the early days as hired muscle for the Italian and Jewish mafias, tunneling into bank vaults in the ‘50s and ‘60s, to the legendary truck heists and bank stick-ups in the ‘70s, they’re infamous today for their role in narcotics smuggling through the Port of Montreal. Supplying the mafia and biker gangs wholesale—a single bust by the RCMP netted 22.5 tons of hashish destined for Montreal—West Enf Gang associates have been and remain an important part of the Canadian criminal community, establishing and maintaining connections to drug cartels worldwide. 

Criminals of every stripe and character inhabit these pages, from the violent stick-up men and drug dealers such as the MacAllister Brothers to the highly complex important schemes of the “King of the Port” Gerry Matticks, as well as the saga of the charismatic “King of Coke” Dunie Ryan and his assissin Paul April, and successor, Alan “the Weasel” Ross. Through research and interviews with police investigators, convicted gang associates and others, journalist and author D’Arcy O’Connor narrates the genesis and rise to power of one of Montreal’s most powerful, colorful and violent gangs: Montreal’s Irish Mafia.

About the Author

D’Arcy O’Connor is a veteran journalist, script writer, documentary producer, book author and round-the-world sailor. He has contributed to the Wall Street Journal, the Montreal Gazette, People magazine, National Geographic, and as far aboard as Sydney, Australia’s Daily Telegraph, and the Australian. Among his books credits are The Money Pit (Putnam), The Big Dig (Ballantine), and The Secret Treasure of Oak Island (Lyons Press). Among his associate producer credits are a segment on Oak Island for ABC, the CBC/NFB’s “Valour and the Horror,” winner of three Gemini awards, and CBC/NFB’s “The Ware at Sea,” a docudrama on Canada’s role in the North Atlantic in WWII. He teaches English and journalism at Montreal’s Dawson College.

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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Griffintown! May 18 2011
I grew up in Montréal on rue Jeanne Mance. I had friends in Griffintown and Goose Village and "The Point." As a boy I boxed a little there in a boys club sometimes.

Thankfully, I never did become one of the 'bad' guys but I did know one of the people in the book who was a very 'Bad Guy' and wound up dead stuffed in the back of his car as D'Arcy O'connor says. I 'knew' that guy because he became my next door neighbour on the south shore before he was murdered.

Matter of fact the QPF hauled me in to talk a bit about that neighbour who they kept arresting because I got in his face for killing my family dog.They told me who he was and to stop 'bothering' him. LOL Bizarre is all I can say about mobsters and O'Connor certainly displays every facet of that life.

The book is very well written, brought me some memories, and my friend John Westlake told me to buy that book and I'm not sorry I did that.

It is an extremely interesting and factual story that didn't take me long to read because it is that interesting I couldn't put it down.

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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
It's a rare thing as a reader to find a book which grips you in such a way that you can't help but consume it in two or three sittings. Montreal's Irish Mafia by Darcy O'connor with Miranda O'connor is indeed such a work. In his latest book Mr. O'connor has captured a piece of Montreal history which up until now has yet to be fully explored. Whether you're from Montreal or not, you will surely enjoy this book as it transports you deeper and deeper into an exciting and seedy underworld of bank robbers and gang bosses. You will learn how some of the biggest bank heists in North America were planned and executed and how at one time Montreal gangs were some of the biggest players in the trading of illicit drugs. Packed full of larger than life characters who survive by their wits, characters who pull off "bank jobs" by helicopter and live by their own criminal code, Montreal's Irish Mafia is a must read!

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4.0 out of 5 stars Fairly good book April 2 2014
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
A fairly good book. Author gets the grittiness across and the intensity of the era. The timeframe in Montreal was that of a rough city. Made New York seem idyllic.
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4.0 out of 5 stars A Good Read for NDG residents Oct. 23 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
an interesting read for a former NDG guy like myself. The places and names are familar. It has a bit of a narrative but it is mostly a bunch of short stories.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Irish Mafia Oct. 21 2013
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Too much of the who shot who and when, expected to read more about the overall operations, and less about the minutia of the details.
Actually I found it boring at times. Unless you are from the west end of Montreal it is of little interest.
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3.0 out of 5 stars good research Sept. 30 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
not a bad book - more like a series of magazine articles - not really a connected story line but then it would have been hard to get a whole book out of any of the smaller story lines about several non-connected individuals.
good research - however he could have put a little more work into the wording of many sentences - too many well worn phrases approaching cliches at times - more work into varied wording and descriptive phrases would improve this book.
also I guess you lose the pics in the Kindle version - the sketches in Kindle don't cut it - one drawback I guess of on-line reading - not a comment on the author
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4.0 out of 5 stars Montreal's Irish Mafia Aug. 11 2013
I found that Mr. O'Connor, chronologically set this book up well. I enjoyed the read and know first hand the affects organized crime has on it's victims. I disagree with the glorification of these types of gangs because it tends to encourage future generations of criminals, They tend to ride on the coattails of persons who are guilty of a lot more crimes than those expressed in the book. They got away with a lot, these crimes are not victimless.
The book cover of "mafia mugs" was good and the writing I found was authentic to the nature of the book. I was not happy with the pics and would have liked to see actual pictures. Mr. O'Conner had some names but there were a lot of names left out. It was a good read and the price to read the book was worth it to me.
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