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Kings of Coke

(available on Crave)

FTC Rating: 4 out of 5


Before it was surpassed by Toronto, Montreal was the commercial center of Canada largely due to its strategic location and port. It remains a crucial transhipment point for grain, sugar, petroleum products, machinery, and consumer goods1. However, the economic success of the city also hides a dark secret, it is a strategic port of entry for narcotics arriving from South America. Control over this lucrative trade shifted the focus of Montreal’s Irish mob, commonly known as the West End Gang, from bank robberies to drug trafficking in the early 1970s.

“Kings of Coke” reveals the rise and fall of the West End Gang and the corruption which allowed their criminal enterprise to flourish.


Strengths:

- Unique insight into Montreal’s criminal past

- Crime Journalist Dan Burke and Author Kathy Dobson offer a personal touch to the documentary by relaying their experiences

- Includes interviews with former West End Gang members

- Exposes the corruption that plagued Montreal

- An abundance of historical footage and photos

- The artwork re-enactments are beautifully rendered and perfectly fit the tone


Weaknesses:

- Run time is 1h 26 minutes, with the amount of material, could have been longer

- Should have included interviews with Montrealers living in the West-End during this time to better understand how these crimes affected residents

- Does not explore the tensions and violence between the gangs

Final thoughts:

- As a life-long Montrealer and former resident of Pointe-Saint-Charles, it was fascinating to see how the city and borough changed over the years.

- “Kings of Coke” is more than a crime documentary, it is historical record of the place I call home and a must-watch for all Montrealers curious about the city’s past.


Picture Source: imdb.com

1 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Montreal#cite_note-CN-143


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