SQ Nabs ‘The Cat’

Sureté du Québec officers ended a four-year manhunt on Oct. 31 when they arrested Jason Gabriel in Kanesatake, a small Mohawk settlement about 40 kilometres northwest of Montreal.

About 30 agents from the SQ’s tactical squad surrounded Gabriel’s home during the night and apprehended a man that had thwarted a number of raids conducted by the provincial police force and the RCMP.

On Nov. 1, Gabriel was brought before a judge at the Palais de Justice de St Jérome, where he was charged with 45 different criminal offences, including assault on a police officer, uttering death threats, possession of a prohibited weapon and arson.

“We’ve been after Gabriel for years and he’s escaped justice a number of times,” said Sergeant Benoit Richard, an SQ media relations officer. “People would tip him off or he would see the police coming and flee.”

The most infamous of Gabriel’s escapes came in 2009, when 400 SQ and RCMP officers raided a marijuana growing operation on the settlement, seizing $1 million in hydroponic pot, a number of handguns and an M-35 armoured truck.

The squad also arrested 13 suspects that day, but Gabriel reportedly fled the scene after breaking out of his plastic handcuffs. Gabriel’s storied escapes have led his pursuers to nickname him “the cat.”

Gabriel resisted arrest once more on Oct. 31 after police found him hiding in his home on Chemin des Gabriels in Kanasatake.
“He resisted, there was a struggle and he was taken to the hospital to be examined,” said Richard. “His injuries must not have been significant because he was released from the hospital almost instantly.”

The SQ consulted with the Kanesatake Mohawk Council before conducting their latest raid, but no one from the council was willing to offer a comment to The Link.

In the past decade, Kanesatake has had a well-documented struggle with law enforcement in the settlement.

KMC Grand Chief James Gabriel’s house was burned to the ground in 2004 after he tried to forcefully take control of the Kanesatake police station with a 67-man privately controlled police force.

The local police force was disbanded in 2004.

Gabriel’s bail hearing is set for Nov. 9 at the Palais de Justice de St Jérome.

This article originally appeared in Volume 31, Issue 13, published November 9, 2010.