Former police agent Micheal Plante met with Vancouver Sun crime reporter Kim Bolan in late 2012 to tell his incredible story about infiltrating the East End chapter of the Hells Angels and helping police put 12 men behind bars. He did not disclose his new name or residence. In part two, Plante described how he used his connections as a bouncer to befriend associates of the East End Hells Angels and work his way into the legendary clubhouse. In part three, he sets out how his relationship with police began in July 2003. While he started as an informant, he became a police agent, wearing a wire for months as Hells Angels and associates trafficked drugs and committed other crimes.
As with many new relationships, things were awkward at first between informant Micheal Plante and police.
After Plante got out of Surrey Pretrial in July 2003, still facing extortion and assault charges, he made the call that would change his life.
It was to Doug Collins, a mountie with the Outlaw Motorcycle Gang unit whose number he had been given in jail. They met clandestinely in New Westminster’s Queen’s Park, by the stadium. Collins rode up on a bicycle.
Plante admitted to Collins that he didn’t know if he could get in tight again with the Hells Angels’ East End chapter. Louie Robinson, then a senior member of the chapter, was angry about Plante getting arrested and leaving Robinson’s fugitive son alone in Penticton.
Eventually, Plante was able to talk to Robinson to smooth things over.
“He yelled at me for about an hour and then sulked and then we went and worked out,” Plante recalled. “He was mad at me for about six months, said I showed him ‘zero respect.’”
Plante met with police regularly in the summer of 2003 in a van near his New Westminster apartment.
“There was really nothing going on. Everything is pretty quiet. I am actually meeting more with the cops than I am with the Hells Angels.”
Things picked up criminally in the fall. Robinson sent Plante to Montreal to get a witness against his son to change his testimony. Back in B.C., Plante alerted Randy Potts, then an HA prospect, to a barrel of ephedrine – an essential ingredient in methamphetamine – that he could collect, as well as an available meth cook.
Plante reported details of the meth operation, as well as his witness-tampering trip, to his police handlers, who paid him for the information.
For the first time, Plante met Wissam (Sam) Ayach, a meth dealer and user who would later be caught in the snare of E-Pandora, the major RCMP investigation that would devastate the Hells Angels’ elite East End chapter.
Ayach was selling Potts’ meth, batches of which Plante would drop off almost daily.
“I was driving out to this place and I was dropping off first one kilo, then two kilos and then it would take maybe a day or two days to pay me,” Plante said. “I did this non-stop from September ’03 till probably December ’03 – just from that barrel.”
Both Randy Potts and full-patch Angel Ronaldo Lising profited from the methamphetamine. Some of the meth drops were made at Potts’ mother’s Surrey trailer.
“I would drop meth off to his mom and his mom would take the meth and she would hand me $25,000,” Plante said. “She would say, ‘Is it all there, Micheal?’ ‘Yes, Mrs. Potts, it is all there.’ She would say, ‘Do you want an apple?’ ‘No thank you.’”
Plante was sure he was doing valuable work for the police investigation into the East End Hells Angels. He didn’t understand that the information he provided was only background that would be used to push for a bigger probe.
“I didn’t realize that they weren’t collecting this as evidence. It never dawned on me,” he said.
At the time, he was only an informant and not an agent. He was not yet wearing a wire.
Police warned him that if he was pulled over with the meth, they wouldn’t be able to help him unless he signed an agreement to become an agent.
From informant to agent
It was during this period that Plante first met Bob Paulson, then the inspector in charge of biker investigations and now Canada’s top RCMP officer.
The meeting took place in the early evening on a rainy fall day in a Port Coquitlam motel.
“He comes in. He has this long leather jacket on and these cowboy boots,” Plante said. “He has the address of the hotel written on his hand. I am like, ‘OK, really, dude?’”
Paulson told Plante how much the police wanted to go after the Hells Angels.
“We are going to put everything we can into it. We have a lot of faith in you. And I will put the best guys on,” Plante quoted Paulson as saying.
It was Paulson’s decision to push forward with E-Pandora and get Plante official agent status, a long process that was finally approved by the RCMP’s top brass in Ottawa in early April 2004.
An agent is different from an informant, who simply provides police with intelligence gleaned from the criminal world. By contrast, an agent takes direction from police and must follow a strict set of legal guidelines.
Informants’ identities are kept confidential, while agents are required to testify in court. And agents can break the law while undercover as long as the conduct is pre-approved by police using Criminal Code exemptions.
Plante was different from others who had provided evidence against the bikers. He was so close to them that they had approached him to join their brotherhood by entering the four-step program to become a full-patch Hells Angel.
“There was an opportunity for him to be in the program,” said RCMP Insp. Gary Shinkaruk, who was put in charge of Plante’s mission.
Shinkaruk knew it was going to be difficult for Plante.
“When he was in the program, he was at the beck and call of the Hells Angels — part of the program is to break these guys,” Shinkaruk said. “At the same time, you are actively working for the police with a wire going into the clubhouse.”
In December 2003, Hells Angels from around the world gathered at the East End clubhouse to mark the chapter’s 20th anniversary. Plante was there every day.
“I showed them that I wanted to be a Hells Angel,” he said. “I was driving guys around from out of town. I was working at the bar.”
It wasn’t fun hanging around with Hells Angels, night and day.
“I hated being around them. I hated talking to them. I hated the whole thing. All they talked about was Hells Angels — drugs, making money from drugs,” he said. “It is like being around someone and all they talk about is curling. I curl, curling, curling, curling. It was so boring.”
Before Plante could really be accepted as an Angel, there were obstacles to overcome. He had never ridden a motorcycle – let alone owned one, which is a requirement for the HA program.
Plante got his Low Rider Harley, which police were to make payments on, from Trev Deeley Motorcycles on Feb. 16, 2004. The total price was $26,388. He also went to Dayton Boots on East Hastings to buy the footwear necessary to complete his costume.
But he still couldn’t ride the Harley and had to take lessons in Ladner.
Plante had to have a good backstory so the bikers knew he had enough money to cover his expensive rides — the Harley and a tricked-out Mustang with a pearl-black paint job, in which police installed high-tech listening devices and even a camera in the trunk to film drug deals.
The Hells Angels believed Plante made his cash as a drug dealer, selling steroids, cocaine and methamphetamine. He certainly had appeared to be connected in the previous few months, helping full-patch Angels get their hands on precursors and meth cooks.
The East End boys also wanted Plante as a tough guy – to help with collections and to beef up their image around town.
The police wanted him, too. The deal to make him an agent was signed on April 15, 2004 at a hotel in Abbotsford. The LOA – letter of acknowledgment – says Plante would get $30,000 for his work on Pandora, on top of his monthly expenses.
There were also new handlers who took over from the pair Plante had got to know during his months as an informant. Plante soon met Shinkaruk, Mountie Stu Priest and Vancouver cop Brad Stephen.
Balancing HA and police
After he became an agent, Plante’s involvement in drug deals with Hells Angels members and associates continued. But everything got more complicated. He was wearing a wire that had to be picked up and dropped off after every use.
Police rented a swanky apartment in New Westminster as a safe house – just a few blocks from where Plante lived. He was expected to bring drugs and cash from the Hells Angels’ deals so they could be photographed as evidence. His work days grew longer as he juggled HA chores, HA drug deals and police meetings.
On May 26, 2004, Plante set out with other HA associates to extort a man named Parminder Gill, who was believed to owe the bikers $150,000.
The cops gave him a snowboarding jacket that said “support East End” to hide the wire.
“It was like hot, man. It was a hot spring day. This is the only jacket they had,” Plante said.
East End Angel John Punko was curious about Plante’s choice of wardrobe.
“So I am sitting there and we are talking and I remember Punko kept looking at me and saying, ‘Aren’t you hot?’ ‘No, I actually got a bit of a chill. I am good, buddy.’”
He was stuck wearing the jacket for hours and hours.
“By the time I finished that day, it was midnight. And Gary (Shinkaruk) wanted me to sit down and write down a report. I thought, ‘Are you out of your f–king mind? Are you crazy? I mean you have the wire. What do you need me to write a report?’”
There was a big fight and Plante stormed away from the safe house. At the time, he didn’t understand the need for the strict set of guidelines that had been put in place for the groundbreaking operation.
Furious at police expectations, Plante was walking up a huge hill back to his own apartment. The cops were following him.
“I am exhausted. My calves started cramping up,” he recalled.
He hid in bushes along the way to massage his aching legs without his handlers seeing. “Ohhh, I am in pain. I am almost crying.”
Finally, a block from his house, Shinkaruk pulled up beside him in a van and said, “Mike, get in, we’ll drive you home.”
Plante was ready to quit. He threatened to punch Shinkaruk. But Plante knew extricating himself would be difficult. Police had eight kilos of meth that Potts had given him. Plante was supposed to pay Potts back $160,000 after a pretend sale.
“I am thinking, ‘If I leave, I can’t even just go back to my normal life,’” Plante recalled.
Finally, police and the agent had a sit-down.
“I said, ‘Listen, we can’t do it this way. This ain’t going to work … If they tell me I got to be at the clubhouse at 9 — I can’t be late,’” Plante said. “‘But you are making me meet you here to pick up a wire.’”
Procedures were adapted as the investigation went along. Some of Plante’s debriefs started happening over the phone. The handlers began leaving the wires in one of his vehicles so he didn’t have to retrieve them each time.
On June 19, 2004, sitting in the New Westminster safe house, Plante signed a second agreement — this one promising him up to $1 million. It said he would get $500,000 at the conclusion of the investigative phase of E-Pandora. Then he’d get another $500,000 at the end of the legal proceedings. Little did he know that would be many years away.
His monthly stipend, which was separate from the award money, was set at $4,000, raised to $5,000 in September 2004 and bumped to $14,000 for the final three months he was undercover.
The strain on Plante was enormous, Shinkaruk said recently.
“The guy was under immense pressure all the time. He was in constant danger,” Shinkaruk said. “I have a lot of respect for him. He is a very brave individual.”
Plante had a few close calls where he feared the bikers were on to him.
On one occasion, he went to Ronnie Lising’s east Vancouver house to meet Lising and George Pires, who were both East End members (both have since moved to the Nomads chapter.)
He was wearing a wire.
“Ronnie had his house like a fortress with cameras,” Plante said.
He went up to the door and pushed the intercom. Lising’s wife said Lising wasn’t home, but he would be back shortly.
“She doesn’t invite me in to sit in the patio,” Plante said. “So I sit in my car and I turn on the wire. And then I think, ‘Oh f–k’ and I look and the camera is on the car.”
He was sure she had seen him adjusting it, so he quickly moved his hand and pretended he was scratching his stomach.
When Lising and Pires showed up, Plante thought they were looking at him suspiciously. The trio discussed their business. Then, as the conversation was ending, both Lising and Pires started talking about wires.
Plante couldn’t believe it.
“They were talking about how they heard about the cops having wires in baseball hats and stuff like this,” Plante said.
“I was so paranoid. I was lucky to get out of there. I figured that was too f–king close, man. That was too close for comfort.”
As it turned out, in his panicked state, the wire wasn’t set properly and recorded nothing from the chat. He later learned the comments about the baseball cap were referring to a scene from the TV drama The Sopranos.
That wasn’t the only close call with the wire.
Plante would go to the gym near his New Westminster house before being at the clubhouse every day at 7 p.m. Police would switch the wires in his car while he was in the gym so he would have a fresh one for his evening with the bikers.
“I am working out and I get a text — ‘It’s all in there, buddy. It is on the seat. It’s all in there,’” Plante recalled.
When he got to his car, all he could see was the used wire.
“I am driving to the clubhouse and I call and said, ‘There is no wire here, dude.’ Gary said ‘What?’ ‘There is no wire here, dude. You said it was on the passenger’s seat.’ I go ‘No, there is no wire here.’”
Police said they’d get back to him ASAP.
“By the time he got back to me, I am in the clubhouse wearing the used wire. There is a big meeting and I am taking care of stuff. I look at my phone.”
Fearing the HA had found the wire, police had sent a panicked text: “Get out. Get out now. Abort!”
“So I put down what I am doing and I leave. There is a meeting going on — a meeting. And I just walk out. Then I go over to my car.”
Plante said the bikers were watching him from the clubhouse windows.
“I get to my car. And I walk to the passenger side and open the door. The wire (had) rolled over and it was underneath the seat.”
He went back into the clubhouse and claimed he had to go check something in his car.
“They said, ‘When we’re doing something you don’t leave!’ So I get yelled at for an hour. Good times! It went from adrenalin to …” Plante sighed without finishing his sentence.
“That was the kind of stuff you dealt with.”
Det. Stephen said Plante was especially tense in the clubhouse, knowing the conversations were being recorded and worrying he might be discovered.
“If any of the club members had detected a police agent in their midst, Plante’s life would have ended right there.”
Tune in for Part Four in this six-part series Tuesday, Jan. 29 at 8 p.m.
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