I’ve written several stories about the “false promise of gang life.”
The Sidney Letandre story is a text-book example, in fact, no other story captures the “false promise” better.
Crime reporter extraordinaire Mike McIntyre shone his light on the story in a Winnipeg Free Press article called “Leaving a gang isn’t easy, Sidney Letandre, now a paraplegic, knows it all too well.” I’m not sure how Mike hooked up with Sid but the story is compelling, it’s a must read for crime buffs, gang associates, wannabes or fringe players. The story provides a window into the future for people who want to be in “the game.”
Mike does a remarkable job telling the story from Letandre’s perspective, the early days, his first scrape with the law and his eventual ascent into the upper ranks of the violent Indian Posse street gang. From there he takes you to the day when one of Sids trusted “brothers” dropped by his house and tried turn his lights out in front of his wife and children.
The back story is just as compelling.
In the latter half of 2007, the City of Winnipeg was experiencing unprecedented gang violence that manifested itself in an extraordinary number of shootings and Homicides. The Indian Posse played a key role in the escalating violence. One of these Homicides was the execution style murder of Anthony Woodhouse (30) in September of 2007. Woodhouse was the innocent victim of a misguided Indian Posse “mission” to control gang turf.
In the spring of 2008 I was transferred to the WPS Organized Crime Unit and given a mandate to take full responsibility for all shooting investigations that occurred in the City of Winnipeg. This would be an onerous task that would require a team of highly dedicated, skilled investigators. Lucky for me, I had the ability to pick my team and had no shortage of talent to choose from.
The shooting protocol we developed required Organized Crime Unit investigators to attend every single shooting incident in the City. From simple drive by shootings, to shots fired into crack houses, gang houses or uninvolved residences. In order to combat the shootings, we needed to gather intelligence on all sides of the equation. The information gained from the victim’s of shootings can be just as vital as information acquired from the shooters themselves.
Crime analysis at the early stages was vital. The information gained from dozens of shootings started to paint a picture. It was clear the Indian Posse gang was a catalyst for much of the violence. Gathering intelligence regarding the hierarchy of the Indian Posse began to take precedence. It was during this process I learned about a dangerous player who had seized power in the violent street gang. His name was Tyson Kane Roulette (23), an extremely hard-core charismatic gangster who had developed the God complex at some point during his thug life.
Enter Sid “Vicious” Letandre.
On June 9, 2008 at approximately 12:15 am, Justin “Snipes” Meeches (30), a trusted “brother” and fellow gang member for over ten (10) years, dropped by to pay Sid a visit. This wouldn’t be an ordinary visit, Sid had ruffled feathers in the IP because of his “low profile” and apparent desire to leave the gang. At the time of the visit, Letandre’s common-law wife and three children ages twelve (12), eight (8) and nine (9) months were all present.
When Sid answered the door he had no way of knowing Meeches had come by to “punch his ticket”.
Before breaching the doorway, Meeches asked Sid who was home. The fact that Letandre’s wife & children were present did not dissuade the gangster as he raised his .22 calibre rifle and popped the first shot into the center of Sid’s back. The effect was devastating, a severed spinal cord and instant paralysis from the chest down. The next shot was intended to finish the job, a head shot behind the left ear which caused bone fragments to become lodged in Letandre’s brain. CSI investigators estimated that three (3) or four (4) shots had been fired during the incident, one of which missed Sid’s nine (9) month old child by approximately six (6) inches.
After executing his friend, Meeches fled the Province for the obligatory cool down period.
When I got the call I was stunned to find out that Letandre survived the bold plan to execute him. I was even more shocked to find out Letandre wanted to “play ball” with investigators. It seemed the sense of betrayal struck a chord deep within the “former” gangsters heart. The fact that one of his brothers shot him in front of his wife and kids was a game changer. That coupled with the reality he would never walk again set the stage for an unprecedented move in the life of Sidney Letandre. It was time to switch teams.
Devastating circumstances aside, much credit for the resolution of this crime lay with the lead Detectives assigned to the case. Detective Sergeant Roger Penner and his partner Detective Wes Law were a pair of skilled investigators who knew how play the game. Lesser investigators could have easily failed to gain Letandre’s confidence and trust and alienated him. The approach is everything. After recording a video taped bedside statement from Letandre, the table was set. Senior Crown Attorney Tracey Lord authorized charges of Attempt Murder with a Firearm against Meeches who would be arrested on a Canada wide warrant in Calgary on January 20, 2009.
In June of 2010, Meeches pled guilty and received a jointly recommended ten (10) year sentence from Justice Glen Joyal who remarked “You deserve every minute of time you will serve.”
The question regarding who called the shot to kill Letandre remains unanswered. As a foot soldier, Meeches simply played the part of executioner. He was sent on a mission, just like the shooter who killed Anthony Woodhouse. Tyson Roulette was the shot caller on the Woodhouse murder and many people suspect he called the shot on Letandre. In the end, Roulette got his, a life sentence with no chance of parole for ten (10) years for ordering the Woodhouse shooting. He also received a twelve (12) year sentence for attempt murder in an unrelated shooting.
Such is life as a member of one of Winnipeg’s notorious street gangs, all roads point in one of two directions, the cemetery or Stony Mountain Penitentiary.