Four dozen Hells Angels sporting the club’s distinctive red-and-white winged skull “deathhead” patches on their backs roared the engines of their Harley Davidson motorcycles to escort murdered Mississauga Hells Angel Michael (Diaz) Deabaitua-Schulde to his grave Saturday.
The Woodbridge funeral at the Vescio Funeral Home was attended by more than 350 outlaw bikers from across Canada and at least one Hells Angel from the Dominican Republic.
Attendance was mandatory for the roughly 200 Ontario members of the Hells Angels, who were supported by members of the junior Red Devils, Iron Dragons, Bacchus, Longhorns, Phantom Horsemen and Commandos Club.
Particularly prominent were members of the Red Devils, who recently set up a charter in Brooklin in Durham Region.
Charters of the Hells Angels from across Canada were required to send representatives to the funeral.
Plainclothes police from the provincial Biker Enforcement Unit photographed the event from a distance while uniformed officers from York Regional Police directed traffic.
Also present were a few members from the Vagabonds, a long-standing Toronto club with a presence on the Danforth.
Deabaitua-Schulde, 32 and a married father of two, was heavily involved in debt collection for sports bettors and had bumped up recently against Quebec criminals also involved in illegal gambling, according to multiple sources.
Just a few of the mourners on Saturday were from Quebec. Three Quebec Hells Angels chatted with a Hells Angel from the Dominican Republic outside the funeral home. At least 100 bikers mingled outside the funeral home during the one-hour service.
Three Montreal men have been charged with first-degree murder for Deabaitua-Schulde’s death and another Montreal man has been charged with complicity after the fact.
The brazen murder comes as Quebec Hells Angels have re-emerged on the streets in Quebec and Ontario after dozens of members were imprisoned in the early 2000s.
The Hells Angels set up charters across Ontario in December 2000, when 168 members of existing Ontario clubs including the Satan’s Choice, the Para-Dice Riders, Lobos and The Last Chance were given membership at a ceremony in Sorel, Quebec.
With that, the Greater Toronto Area was suddenly central to the fabric of the biggest, bloodiest biker gang in the world, with about as many members — 110 — as in the entire province of Quebec.
The Hells Angels’ move into Ontario came in the midst of a bloody biker war in Quebec.
There were at least 164 people slain in Quebec in biker wars between Hells Angels and rival gangs between 1994 and 2002 over drug-trafficking turf in cities like Montreal, Sherbrooke and Trois-Rivières. At least seven of those victims were innocent bystanders, including an 11-year-old boy killed by a bomb blast.
Quebec police hit back with a string of massive operations targeting drug trafficking, marijuana production and murder that seriously hobbled the club.
At one particularly low point for the Hells Angels in 2009, there were just eight members in good standing in Quebec on the streets and another four junior members, LaPresse newspaper reported. The rest of the members were in prison, dead or fugitives.
A well-placed source who knew Deabaitua-Schulde said he expects more violence to follow.
“It’s going to be a long spring and summer,” he said.
One of Deabaitua-Schulde’s associates who was also involved in debt collection took an extended holiday shortly before the murder, according to a well-placed source.
“All of a sudden he buys a boat and he’s going to sail around the Caribbean,” the source said.
Peter Edwards is a Toronto-based reporter primarily covering crime. Reach him by email at firstname.lastname@example.org