THE ROLL OF SILK

  • THE ROLL OF SILK

1933

After three years of smuggling drugs hidden on ships leaving from Europe, mobster Harry Davis is finally arrested on April 9, 1933 while picking up his latest load of narcotics at the port. Acting on a tip from a gang member turned snitch, police converge on the Port’s Hangar 16. The drugs are found hidden amongst rolls of Japanese silk. 

Harry ‘Edgeman’ Davis, Montreal’s undisputed boss of all vice in the city, is caught red-handed on the scene with 852 kilos of heroin and other drugs. Davis and his gang are arrested along with two longshoremen who were loading the silk rolls in the mobsters’ truck. 

Davis is charged with and found guilty of bribing customs officers and of drug smuggling and trafficking. He is sentenced to receive ten lashes and to serve fourteen years at St-Vincent- de-Paul Penitentiary. 

Meanwhile, the innocence of the two unwitting long- shoremen soon becomes evident. The two dockers were after all just doing their job. On their release, their pals from Hangar 16 cheer them and commemorate the event by displaying, in the hangar office, a silk roll left behind from the raid. That Japanese silk roll is still a treasure of the longshoremen.

THE COMPLETE STORY OF THE ROLL OF SILK

1933

In the early 1930s, several of Montreal’s most prominent professional gamblers were involved in the international narcotics trade1.  Harry ‘Edgeman’ Davis is then Montreal’s undisputed boss of all vice in the city. Davis acts as the edge, an intermediary between the city’s organized crime and corrupt city officials2.  On April 9, after almost three years of smuggling drugs hidden on ships leaving from Europe, the gangster is finally arrested while picking up his latest load of narcotics at the port3.

Acting on a tip from hoodlum ‘Fat Charlie’ Feigenbaum4, police converge on Hangar 16, where the drugs are found hidden amongst rolls of Japanese silk2. Davis and his gangsters are caught red-handed on the scene with 852 kilos of heroin and other drugs4. Two longshoremen are also arrested during the raid for loading the silk rolls on the mobsters’ truck. Davis will be charged with bribing customs officers and with drug smuggling and trafficking3.

Feigenbaum, who had been picking up the narcotics with Davis to send them to the United States, cuts a deal with the police in exchange for testifying against his boss3. Davis would later make him pay with his life for his treachery5. For his part, the drug lord will be found guilty of five separate counts of importing drugs and of corrupting law enforcement officers. He’s condemned to receive ten lashes and to serve a fourteen-year prison sentence at St-Vincent-de-Paul Penitentiary3.

The innocence of the two unwitting longshoremen arrested during the raid soon becomes evident. They were after all just doing their job. On their release, their pals from Hangar 16 cheer them and commemorate the event by displaying, in the hangar office, a silk roll left behind from the raid. That Japanese silk roll is still a treasure of the longshoremen.

 

Title

LogoBasPageHistoireSources
  1. Morton, Suzanne, AT ODDS: GAMBLING AND CANADIANS, 1919-1969, University of Toronto Press, 2003, p. 145
  2. St-Laurent, Alexander R., BARBOTTE, A THESIS IN THE DEPARTMENT OF ENGLISH, Concordia University, April 2012 //spectrum.library.concordia.ca/973739/1/St-Laurent_MA_S2012.pdf
  3. O’Connor, Darcy, MONTREAL’S IRISH MAFIA: THE TRUE STORY OF THE INFAMOUS WEST END GANG, John Wiley and Sons, 2011, p. 35
  4. Montreal Gazette, Kalbfleisch, John, FROM THE ARCHIVES: MYSTERIOUS GUNMAN RESURFACED TO KILL CRIME BOSS, 22, 2004 //montrealgazette.com/sponsored/mtl-375th/from-the-archives-mysterious-gunman-resurfaced-to-kill-crime-boss
  5. Juifs d’ici, GANGSTERS JUIFS, Harry Davis //www.juifsdici.ca/gangsters-juifs/

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