MONTREAL, May 31 (UPI) -- Drug charges against 31 Hells Angels bikers were tossed out Tuesday by a Montreal judge who said their trials would be delayed for too long.
The 31 suspects were among 156 alleged members and associates of Quebec's Hells Angels biker gang who were arrested in 2009 following a police investigation that went on for 17 years.
In granting a defense request for a stay, Quebec Superior Court Judge James Brunton said further anticipated delays would have prevented the men from having fair trials, the Canadian Broadcasting Corp. reported.
Defense attorneys maintain it could take 10 years before all the defendants went to trial.
"He sent a message that you have to be realistic about the capacity of the courts to react," defense lawyer Daniel Rock said.
The judge chastised the provincial justice minister and director of criminal prosecutions for assuming the justice system could handle the massive case.
Prosecutor Gaston Langevin said Brunton's decision was disappointing.
"There are other avenues possible, instead of just a stay of proceedings," he said. "One of them would have been to put some of them back on the street -- with conditions -- and not just go for a stay of proceedings."