Title: Canadian Underworld
Description: All but Bikers
Peter - April 13, 2006 07:27 AM (GMT)
A rare glimpse into underworld
Mob bungling led to T.O. mom's tragedy
Police relied on informer, documents show
Apr. 13, 2006
NICK PRON AND PETER SMALL
A bitter feud between a Sicilian mobster and a gang of Toronto hoodlums over a $130,000 gambling debt turned into a botched hit that left Louise Russo shot in the back and paralyzed.
The anatomy of the underworld feud and the bungled murder attempt of Michelle Modica, a 50-year-old native of Sicily, was revealed yesterday in court documents when five Toronto men pleaded guilty to their roles in the conspiracy.
The 21-page document outlined how the police were able to piece together the plot with the help of one of the gangsters, who secretly became a police agent, apparently furious that he almost got shot while setting up Modica at the North York restaurant where Russo was wounded on the night of April 21, 2004.
The agreed statement of facts put together by prosecutors Donna Armstrong and Joseph Callaghan and the defence lawyers for the five men offered a rare glimpse into organized crime in Toronto and the treachery among crooks.
Modica had been marked for death by Mark Peretz and Paris Christoforou, after they learned that Modica had used the money he owed them to finance the smuggling of illegal narcotics into Canada.
The pair, along with confederateAntonio Borrelli, set out to kill Modica after being tipped off that he would be at a North York restaurant, the same eatery that Russo stopped by that evening to get a bite with her daughter.
But the trio of amateurish hitmen botched the killing, turning it into a bungled driveby when they opened fire on four men leaving California Sandwiches, on Chesswood Dr., none of them Modica, the document said.
Russo, waiting for her order, was hit in the back by an errant bullet, her spine shattered, leaving her confined to wheelchair for the rest of her life. Modica, and two bodyguards, drew their guns as soon as the bullets started flying. They escaped out a back door, unhurt.
But Modica vowed revenge, his beef with the Toronto gangsters turning into a long-range feud after he was deported to Sicily.
The underworld intrigue that shattered Russo's life that April evening in 2004 started three years earlier when Modica, a mobster who was involved in drug trafficking in Italy, emigrated to Canada from his native Sicily, living here as an illegal immigrant. He got involved in illegal gambling with Peter Scarcella but just six months after coming to Toronto he was arrested for possession of stolen property, and agreed to return to Sicily after the charges were dropped.
But two years later, in April 2003, Modica was back in Toronto, returning on a forged passport, the document said.
Modica quickly got involved with an unnamed partner in online gambling, and other "criminal activities."
Within a year, Modica's partner was $240,000 in debt to Peretz and Christoforou. Modica offered to collect the money from his partner and pay it back to the two men after taking his commission.
But there was no honour among these criminals.
Modica used the money he collected to finance a shipment of illicit narcotics into Canada.
When Peretz and Christoforou didn't get their money, a meeting was arranged with Modica and his unnamed partner, the document said.
But Modica thought he was being set up for a hit and kept driving by a Toronto restaurant when he spotted two suspicious-looking men waiting nearby in a car. A second meeting was arranged at a west-end hotel. This time, Modica brought some backup — two Mafia heavies from New York and a third man from Ottawa — to vouch for him.
About 30 gangland members gathered at the Marriott Courtyard hotel about two weeks before Russo was shot. It was clear to everyone there, including Scarcella, the senior mobster at the sit-down meeting, that Modica was trying to pull a fast one.
After an evening of heated debate, Modica's partner agreed to pay Peretz and Christoforou $110,000 of the $240,000 debt. Modica was told he owed the rest of the money — $130,000.
After the meeting, an angry Peretz and Christoforou confronted Modica, demanding their money. When he said he didn't have it, they shoved a gun in his mouth. They gave him two days to pay up, vowing to murder him if he didn't.
The deadline passed. Modica refused to pay. Both sides vowed to kill the other over the debt.
Raffaele Delle Donne, who had been helping Modica get a false passport so he could leave Canada, became the betrayer. He tipped Peretz and Christoforou that Modica would be at California Sandwiches on April 21. Delle Donne would later become a police informant.
Modica was at the restaurant that evening with two Sicilian confederates. All three were armed with 9 mm handguns.
Delle Donne drove to the restaurant, followed by the heavily armed trio of Peretz, Christoforou and Borrelli in a van.
Delle Donne parked beside Russo's car, and went inside to talk to Modica. Just then, four patrons of the restaurant who, like Russo, were innocent bystanders, walked out.
The trio of would-be hitmen in the van, thinking the four were Modica and his confederates, drove by and opened fire. Russo was the only one hit.
The gunmen fled, but their bungling didn't end there. The trio burned the van on a secluded road north of Toronto, foolishly leaving inside their weapons, which were found by police. After bungling the first hit on Modica, Scarcella headed up plans for a second. The plot to murder Modica continued, even after he was deported to Sicily.
After putting together their case, with the help of wiretaps and Della Donne, police swooped in on April 14, 2005.
Scarcella, 54, was sentenced to 11 years, Borelli, 30, got 12 years Christoforou, 30, and Peretz, 38, each got 11 years and Cutulle, 30, got three years.
Peter - April 19, 2006 06:20 PM (GMT)
No parole for gang member
Won't sever his ties to organized crime
Wednesday, April 19, 2006
An influential member of the West End Gang has been denied day parole because of his refusal to cut his ties to organized crime.
Donald Matticks, 42, son of West End Gang leader Gerry Matticks, is serving an eight-year prison term for importing large quantities of illicit drugs while he worked at the Port of Montreal.
His job at the port allowed him to verify and co-ordinate drug shipments that were smuggled out of the docks and into the hands of drug traffickers, who were willing to pay dearly for the favour or hand over a percentage of the shipments.
Matticks's father, Gerry, is also behind bars for smuggling drugs through the port.
While the Hells Angels were under intensive police investigation in 2000, police learned of the close business relationship the bikers had with the West End Gang.
Gerry Matticks was arrested on March 28, 2001, along with members of the Hells Angels. One of his business partners turned informant, and the additional evidence led to a roundup of Donald Matticks and other key members of the West End Gang on Dec. 4, 2002.
A recently released National Parole Board report alleges Donald Matticks brazenly maintained his ties to organized crime while he was out on bail and continued to "participate in illicit activities with other criminals."
As part of a parole hearing this month, the parole board was presented with an intelligence file prepared by Correctional Service Canada.
It noted that, on Jan. 11, 2005, one week before he was sentenced, Donald Matticks was observed in the presence of two full-patch members of the Hells Angels, including one who has a lengthy criminal record that includes a conviction for attempted murder.
While the meeting was not mentioned when he was sentenced, maintaining those ties cost Matticks a chance at leaving prison and serving the next stage of his sentence at a halfway house on Montreal Island.
Despite being described as a inmate who shows "no propensity toward violence," the board couldn't look past what it described as his continued loyalty to groups like the Hells Angels.
A commissioner who summarized the hearing in the report wrote: "During incarceration, you are compliant and polite, but the board cannot dismiss observation reports repeatedly relating you to individuals linked to bikers."
Hollander - April 20, 2006 05:21 PM (GMT)
Police crack Gatineau-to-Laval drug, gun ring
Authorities say some accused used Maniwaki reserve police chief's salsa lessons to disrupt the probe
The Ottawa Citizen
Thursday, April 20, 2006
Some of the people on the Algonquin reserve near Maniwaki who complained that their police chief was taking dance lessons at public expense have been charged in Quebec's biggest drug bust this year, police Chief Gordon McGregor said yesterday.
A combined force of Kitigan Zibi police, the Surete du Quebec and RCMP officers charged 26 people between Gatineau and Laval with a total of 126 drug and weapons offences yesterday. All were to appear in court in Maniwaki, St-Jerome and Gatineau.
Chief McGregor said 14 Algonquins controlled an organized crime business exporting marijuana, hashish and ecstasy to the United States.
"They grew the drugs outdoors and then indoors and outside the community because of police pressure," Chief McGregor said. "They had runners to take the drugs from this area as far away as Laval.
"The drugs were then taken across the border by car."
Chief McGregor said police believe "these were the same people who made false allegations against police officers. It was their form of intimidation to disrupt the investigation and deter us from our goal of taking down the organization."
Between Sept. 21 and Oct. 20, 2005, police seized 1,200 marijuana plants, 772 kilograms of marijuana, 21 firearms, ammunition, an unspecified amount of hashish, cocaine and ecstasy, a small amount of money, equipment used to grow marijuana and produce hashish, computers and a safe.
RCMP Cpl. Luc Bessette said police conducted 11 searches in an investigation that started in August 2005, but didn't charge anyone until yesterday because of the need to collect, and inform defence lawyers about, the evidence.
"They had a lab producing hashish for export to the U.S.," Cpl. Bessette said. "To us, this is organized crime because when you produce 772 kilograms of marijuana, you have to be organized."
Cpl. Bessette said the organization was not related to biker gangs or the Mafia.
Chief McGregor said people on the reserve filed 30 to 40 complaints against the police in 2005 in an attempt to affect the investigation. The Quebec police ethics board and the Surete du Quebec determined that the allegations were false.
An unidentified informant complained to the RCMP that Chief McGregor had paid for salsa lessons using his aboriginal police association credit card.
The 44-year-old police chief said the whole episode was the result of a clerical miscue and a St. Valentine's Day gift gone awry.
Chief McGregor said he did not take $290 worth of salsa lessons for him, his girlfriend, Helene Cayer, and her sister, Linda Cayer, at the Chateau Logue Hotel and Golf Resort in Maniwaki.
"My girlfriend paid for the dance lessons, but we never went on them when we found out that the press had been advised about all this stupidity."
Other complaints alleged that Kitigan Zibi police officers were selling cigarettes on the reserve, about 130 kilometres north of Ottawa.
The Kitigan Zibi residents charged are: Hubert Whiteduck, 40; Natasha Ostrowski-Mitchell, 27; Wesley Cote, 27; Patrick Odjick, 30; Shannon Ferguson, 29; Randy Tolley, 22; Beau Tolley, 25; Samantha Brascoupe, 26; Lloyd Whiteduck, 35; Ryan Mitchell, 25; and Adorianne Beaudoin, 19.
Others who were charged are: Michel Martin, 40, of Gatineau; Kevin Decoursay, 30, of Rapid Lake; Vincent Dupuis, 26, of Messines; William Adams, 36, of St. Regis; Pascal Belisle, 27, of Des Ruisseaux; Michael Lepine, 42, Richard Lepine, 39, and John Horvath, 42, of Ste-Lucie-des-Laurentides; and Simon Petiquay, 35, and Gilbert Valades, 43, of Ste-Agathe-des-Monts.
Also charged were: Claude Lavallee, 46, of Laval; Claude Blais, 42, of Lac-Nominingue; Michel Bordeleau, 46, of Ste-Adele; Dominique Vincent, 34, of Clova; and Sylvain Lamoureux, 38, of Notre-Dame-de-la-Paix.
Hubert Whiteduck and Michael Lepine were identified by police as the gang's leaders.
© The Ottawa Citizen 2006
Peter - May 2, 2006 02:05 PM (GMT)
Son of notorious gang leader Matticks to get day parole
PAUL CHERRY, Gazette Crime Reporter
The Montreal Gazette
Monday, May 01, 2006
STE. ANNE DES PLAINES -- Despite representing what the National Parole Board considers to be a high risk to reoffend as a high-level drug smuggler, the son of West End Gang leader Gerry Matticks will be released on day parole soon.
Donald Matticks, 42, is expected to reside at a halfway house in St. Léonard and report to the Montreal police as part of his release from the Archambault institution, a medium security penitentiary 40 kilometres north of Montreal. He is also not allowed to see his father or to set foot inside the Port of Montreal.
Matticks is serving an eight-year sentence for smuggling drugs through the port, where he worked as checker, a position that gave him the authority to decide what container went where as they were loaded off ships.
Matticks admitted that he took part in multi-million dollar drug-smuggling operations under the guidance of his father, a man once described as “the door” to the Port of Montreal for organized crime before his arrest in 2001.
“I was always intrigued by crime,’’ Matticks told a parole hearing yesterday adding that initially his father wanted him to make an honest living.
“I had seen friends make fast money I wanted to make fast money too,” Matticks added.
He began working at the port at the age of 24 on a part-time basis. Eventually, he said, he was allowed to get involved in his father's plans.
“It took a long time to learn the ins and outs of the port,’’ he said adding his father told him to limit his criminal activities to getting containers past the port gates without being inspected.
Matticks said he “felt relieved” when he was arrested in December 2002 while at Addington House, a drug-rehabilitation centre.
“I was one of the worst drug addicts I knew,’’ he said. Matticks said he is now more aware of the problems his addiction and his crimes have caused his wife and four children.
He said his two oldest children are often teased at school about his crimes.
Now, Matticks said, he will volunteer at Addington House and attempt to help others with their problems. He is also the chairperson of Alcoholics Anonymous meetings at Archambault.
Less than a month ago, Matticks was turned down for parole in part because of an intelligence report that alleged he met with two members of Hells Angels from the gang’s Ontario-based Nomads chapter while out on bail when his case was before the courts.
The meeting was held in a restaurant and also attended by Matticks’s uncle Richard, a convicted drug smuggler. The intelligence report alleged Donald Matticks was asked for his opinion on who was trustworthy enough to replace him at the port.
Wiretaps picked up mentions of a cargo ship from Amsterdam and questions over who should collect $6 million.
Yesterday, Matticks had a chance to reply to the allegations for the first time. The first decision was made without a hearing and Matticks had a second chance at day parole because he qualified for an expedited review of his case because his crimes were considered non-violent.
Yesterday, Matticks denied taking part in the conversation. He said he talked with his uncle often while out on bail and they happened to run into the Hells Angels while eating lunch one day.
“So it was just by chance?” commissioner Robert Paquette asked with just a hint of sarcasm in his voice.
“Yes,” Matticks replied.
The Hells Angels and the West End Gang are known to have close ties. Gerry Matticks is currently behind bars, also for smuggling drugs through the port which he did often for members of the Hells Angels, like Maurice (Mom) Boucher.
While informing Donald Matticks of the decision to release him Paquette would say he and fellow commissioner Martine Pierre-Louis felt there was “very little credibility” in his explanations.
But, Paquette explained, the priority in such cases is for the parole board to determine whether an inmate will commit a violent offence before the end of his sentence.
Paquette said the board was obliged by law to release Matticks even though representatives from his case management team and from Correctional Service Canada recommended he be denied parole.
But they also had to concede Matticks has no history of violence.
Peter - May 2, 2006 02:23 PM (GMT)
Parole board relents; to free gang member
Seen as high risk to reoffend; Donald Matticks has `very little credibility,' but has no history of violence: commissioner
Tuesday, May 02, 2006
ste. anne des plaines - Despite representing what the National Parole Board considers to be a high risk to reoffend as a high-level drug smuggler, the son of West End Gang leader Gerry Matticks will be released on day parole soon.
Donald Matticks, 42, is expected to reside at a halfway house in St. Leonard and report to the Montreal police as part of his release from the Archambault institution, a medium security penitentiary 40 kilometres north of Montreal. He is also not allowed to see his father or to set foot inside the Port of Montreal.
Matticks is serving an eight-year sentence for smuggling drugs through the port, where he worked as checker, a position that gave him the authority to decide what container went where as they were loaded off ships.
Matticks admitted that he took part in multi-million-dollar drug-smuggling operations under the guidance of his father, a man once described as "the door" to the Port of Montreal for organized crime before his arrest in 2001.
"I was always intrigued by crime,'' Matticks told a parole hearing yesterday, adding that initially his father wanted him to make an honest living.
"I had seen friends make fast money," he said. "I wanted to make fast money, too."
Matticks began working at the port at the age of 24 on a part-time basis. Eventually, he said, he was allowed to get involved in his father's plans. "It took a long time to learn the ins and outs of the port.''
His father told him to limit his criminal activities to getting containers past the port gates without being inspected, he said.
Matticks said he "felt relieved" when he was arrested in December 2002 while at Addington House, a drug-rehabilitation centre.
"I was one of the worst drug addicts I knew,'' he said.
Matticks said he is now more aware of the problems his addiction and his crimes have caused his wife and four children.
His two oldest children are often teased at school about his crimes, he said.
Now, Matticks said, he will volunteer at Addington House and attempt to help others with their problems.
He is also the chairperson of Alcoholics Anonymous meetings at Archambault.
Less than a month ago, Matticks was turned down for parole, in part because of an intelligence report that alleged he met with two members of Hells Angels from the gang's Ontario-based Nomads chapter while out on bail when his case was before the courts.
The meeting was held in a restaurant and also attended by Matticks's uncle Richard, a convicted drug smuggler.
The intelligence report alleged Donald Matticks was asked for his opinion on who was trustworthy enough to replace him at the port.
Wiretaps picked up mentions of a cargo ship from Amsterdam and questions over who should collect $6 million.
Yesterday, Matticks had a chance to reply to the allegations for the first time. The initial decision was made without a hearing and Matticks had a second chance at day parole; he qualified for an expedited review of his case because his crimes were considered non-violent.
Yesterday, Matticks denied taking part in the conversation. He said he talked with his uncle often while out on bail and they happened to run into the Hells Angels while eating lunch one day.
"So it was just by chance?" commissioner Robert Paquette asked with a hint of sarcasm in his voice.
"Yes," Matticks replied.
The Hells Angels and the West End Gang are known to have close ties.
Gerry Matticks is behind bars, also for smuggling drugs through the port, which he did often for members of the Hells Angels, like Maurice (Mom) Boucher.
While informing Donald Matticks of the decision to release him, Paquette said he and fellow commissioner Martine Pierre-Louis felt there was "very little credibility" in his explanations.
But, Paquette said, the priority in such cases is for the parole board to determine whether an inmate will commit a violent offence before the end of his sentence.
Paquette said the board was obliged by law to release Matticks, even though representatives from his case management team and from Correctional Service Canada recommended that he be denied parole.
But they also conceded that Matticks has no history of violence.
He will be eligible for full parole in September 2007.
Hollander - May 9, 2006 09:00 AM (GMT)
RCMP commissioner says organized crime and terrorists working closely
Tuesday, May 09, 2006
Prime Minister Stephen Harper (left) chats with RCMP Commissioner Giuliano Zaccardelli. (CPimages /Fred Charrand)
OTTAWA (CP) - The head of the RCMP says his agency is increasingly concerned about evidence that organized crime groups are helping to fund terrorists.
Giuliano Zaccardelli's observations Monday may come as a shock to some, but not to those who monitor trends in law enforcement. Almost every conceivable type of crime racket helps to finance terrorists whose chief goal is killing Westerners, said one expert in the field.
That includes hashish baggies being peddled on street corners, cocaine trafficking, prostitution, pick-pocketing, knock-off designer items and credit card fraud.
Zaccardelli wasn't quite that specific during his appearance before a Senate committee Monday. But he said the evidence is clear, and continually mounting.
"That is a trend we're watching and monitoring and has the potential to cause us some serious problems," Zaccardelli, commissioner of the RCMP, told senators on an anti-terrorism committee.
"There seems to be an emerging trend. . .that some terrorist groups are clearly using certain organized crime groups to funnel or to fund some of their activities."
Images of Osama bin Laden sitting around basement tables with pinstripe-suited mobsters to plot drug deals and terrorist bombings are probably far-flung.
But there are more subtle links. And Zaccardelli says the RCMP is paying increasingly close attention.
Zaccardelli said that terrorist ties to organized crime were traditionally low-level, or not serious enough to make it a top RCMP priority.
He told the committee that his force has become increasingly vigilant since the terrorist attacks on the United States of Sept. 11, 2001.
"Terrorism is a real and present danger. . .It has been said it is not a matter of whether - but only of when - Canada will encounter its own 9-11."
Public Safety Minister Stockwell Day said Zaccardelli's charge came as no surprise.
"It's a longstanding concern," he said.
"We do know that certain organized crime activities do lead to money going back to terrorist groups.
"That's been an item that (concerns) intelligence forces - not just in Canada, but around the world."
One expert said the links to terrorism are literally as old as the mafia.
The Sicilian mob was formed as a loosely assembled group of vigilantes who sought to overthrow a succession of foreign rulers from their homeland. Crime provided the financing, said John Thompson of the Mackenzie Institute, a Toronto-based think-tank.
The same is true of the Chinese triad, which was initially a resistance movement against the Manchu Emperor of the Qing Dynasty in the 18th century.
Colombia's leftist guerrillas, the IRA and Sri Lanka's Tamil Tigers have all used the proceeds of crime to finance politically motivated violence.
"It's ancient," Thompson said.
"Almost every terrorist group in the world today is involved in organized crime. Almost all terrorist groups around the world use organized crime to pay for their operations."
Al-Qaeda and Osama bin Laden are no different.
The bombers who blew up Madrid's rail system in 2004, injuring 192 people and wounded 2,050, financed their operation by selling hashish.
"Hashish from the Middle East, heroin from. . .Afghanistan and Pakistan, cocaine, it all at some point goes through the hands of terrorists on its way down to the street. All of it," Thompson said.
The basic training for al-Qaeda recruits includes at least four major components: handling firearms, making bombs, ideological reinforcement, "and supporting yourself through credit-card fraud," said Thompson.
He points to ex-Montrealer Ahmed Ressam, who was convicted of trying to blow up Los Angeles airport on New Year's Eve 1999.
Ressam also planned to set up a side business to help fund his terrorist jihad.
"He was going to try and set up a shop so they could access people's credit cards and start counterfeiting them."
An RCMP spokesman sought to clarify Zaccardelli's remarks late Monday.
Sgt. Paul Marsh said the commissioner meant to say that terrorists use organized crime "methods" to raise money.
However, Zaccardelli referred at least three times during his Senate appearance to terrorists working with organized crime "groups."
Peter - May 28, 2006 11:18 AM (GMT)
RCMP investigating B.C. town's alleged crime ring
Sat. May. 27 2006
CTV.ca News Staff
Undercover RCMP agents arrested several people in B.C.'s Okanagan Valley Saturday, following an investigation into an alleged criminal organization.
"This group in the Vernon area is very well known by the whole community as 'The Greeks,' and it's an organization run by one individual," alleged Sgt. Al Haslett in an interview with CTV Vancouver on Saturday.
The group has apparently operated in the small city of 50,000 for years, and is suspected of murder and drug trafficking.
"One of the biggest things we found is that because The Greeks are so well known in the Vernon area, and so feared by the people of the community, that people were refusing to talk to us," Haslett said.
Between 2004 and 2005, there were seven murders and disappearances in Vernon.
One of those arrested Saturday was 38-year-old Peter Manolakos Jr., but his father said his son is not involved in any criminal activity.
"They took him," said Peter Manolakos Sr. "There is no reason because nothing happened."
He said the police harassed his son because he was convicted of drug charges in the late 1990s.
Manolako added that he had never heard of any crime group called The Greeks.
Police allege The Greeks were involved in smuggling cocaine and heroin, and have ties to biker gangs.
"The Hells Angels out of Calgary and Kelowna have sanctioned The Greeks in Vernon to carry out their drug trafficking business," alleged Haslett.
RCMP officers are carrying out multiple searches in both North Okanagan and the lower mainland.
A modest Vernon pizza restaurant allegedly served as a front for The Greeks' illegal activities.
It's unclear how many people were arrested, but CTV Vancouver's Kate Corcoran estimated as many as eight.
Those charged will appear in provincial court on Monday.
Hollander - May 30, 2006 02:01 PM (GMT)
Peter - May 31, 2006 11:41 AM (GMT)
'It's going to be a little bit harder to get your cocaine in Vernon'
Ten people face drug charges after city sweep
Special to The Province
Wednesday, May 31, 2006
VERNON -- Four men have been charged with first-degree murder in the death of a man who disappeared in August 2004.
They are part of a group of eight men and two women who police say make up "The Greeks," which police allege is an organized crime network based in Vernon.
The group has also been charged with drug offences, including trafficking cocaine and marijuana.
"I would very strongly suspect that it's going to be a little bit harder to get your cocaine in Vernon over the next few months," said RCMP Cpl. Henry Proce.
Andre Raymond, Dale Sipes, Leslie Podolski and Sheldon O'Donnell face first-degree murder charges in the death of 45-year-old David Marniuk.
Peter Manolakos, alleged to be the ringleader of the group, is charged with manslaughter in the death.
Charged with drug offences are Kevin Couture, Athanassius Ganatsios, Michael Roy, Joanne Verigin and Donna Blackman.
Proce said police are also probing six other unsolved homicides between July 2004 and June 2005.
Police allege that the group was the primary distributor of crack cocaine in Vernon, as well as several other cities and towns.
Police link The Greeks to crimes in Vernon, Salmon Arm, Enderby, Kelowna, Revelstoke, Vancouver, Midway, Grand Prairie and Edmonton.
Police also believe they may have connections to other gangs, including the Hells Angels.
"These were some very, very serious players and we are very, very happy to get them off the street," Proce said.
Their tattoo says "Ema," which stands for family, and has the omega symbol.
Police said they seized $200,000 in cash, almost four kilograms of cocaine, 27 pounds of marijuana and an arsenal of weapons, including sawed-off shotguns, revolvers, pistols and semi-automatics during the investigation.
All 10 suspects appeared in court in Kelowna on Monday and will have bail hearings next month.
alexxemak - May 31, 2006 05:34 PM (GMT)
This is in my own backyard, practically. Most people here are surprised by the "Greeks"
when it comes to organized crime in B.C. most people automatically thinkHell's Angels", not other gangs.
Peter - June 6, 2006 10:40 AM (GMT)
Mounties sting West End Gang
22.5 tonnes of dope change hands off Angola's coast - under the watchful eye of police video cameras
Tuesday, June 06, 2006
Royal Canadian Mounted Police, $225 million. West End Gang, 0.
The RCMP announced yesterday they had fleeced the organized crime group of almost $250 million in illegal narcotics.
In a sting operation that could have been taken from a movie script, the Mounties tricked an import cell of the West End Gang into handing over 22.5 tonnes of hashish on May 10, about 325 kilometres off the coast of Angola.
The drug ship had left Pakistan loaded with 989 bales of hashish. The drug was packed in small metallic envelopes labelled as coffee packets.
The contraband was later loaded onto a ship rented for the occasion by the RCMP - after the West End Gang had unwittingly hired undercover officers to act as middlemen in the transaction.
The Mounties secretly videotaped the crew of the first ship as they transferred the drugs to the second vessel, which was operated by RCMP officers.
The Mounties transported the drugs to Canada and delivered them on Friday to a home in St. Jean sur Richelieu believed to be a distribution centre. They then arrested the alleged ringleaders in the importation scheme.
Peter Toman, 59, his son Andrew Toman, 24, and Sidney Lallouz, 57, all of Montreal, were arrested.
Hash haul worth $225M
Anne Sutherland CanWest News Service Tuesday, June 06, 2006
MONTREAL -- Royal Canadian Mounted Police, $225 million. West End Gang, 0.
The RCMP announced Monday they had fleeced an organized crime group out of close to a quarter of a billion dollars worth of illegal narcotics.
In a sting operation right out of a movie script, the RCMP tricked an import cell of Montreal's West End Gang into handing over 22.5 tonnes of hashish on May 10, more than 300 kilometres off the coast of Angola.
The mostly Filipino crew of the ship that left Pakistan loaded with contraband were secretly videotaped hoisting and transferring 989 bales of hashish, most of it individually packed in shrink-wrapped metallic coffee packets, onto a ship rented for the occasion by the RCMP.
The ship, crewed by RCMP officers, then transported the drugs to Canada and delivered the narcotics to a home in St. Jean Sur Richelieu, Que., about 50 kilometres southeast of Montreal, the presumed distribution centre, on June 2, and arrested the ringleaders in the drug-smuggling scheme.
Arrested were Peter Toman, 59, his son Andrew Toman, 24 and Sidney Lallouz, 57, all from Montreal and, according to the RCMP, all affiliated with the West End Gang.
The three face charges of drug importation, conspiracy to import, possession for the purpose of trafficking and drug trafficking.
This seizure is six times the amount of hashish seized last year either in Canada or en route to Canada.
The 22.5 tonnes translates to 22,500 kilograms or 22.5 million one-gram units, the usual measurement for a hashish sale. At a street price of $10 a gram, the haul represents $225 million that won't be going to organized crime, said RCMP Staff Sgt. Andre Potvin.
The RCMP in both Halifax and Montreal worked on every detail of the complicated sting for more than a year-and-a-half, Potvin said.
In order to move the drugs to Montreal, Toman's group needed a ship capable of deep-water navigation and a crew. The transfer of goods from one ship to another would take place in international waters off the southwest coast of Africa.
The RCMP undercover officers who had infiltrated Toman's organization said they could provide both ship and crew. They were provided with $195,000 Canadian for expenses and promised $9 million for their troubles upon delivery.
Undercover officers spent 43 days at sea, waiting for the transfer and transporting the drugs to Canada.
In order to assure the safety of the officers and their valuable cargo, a Department of National Defence frigate, the HMCS Fredericton, trailed the RCMP-charted ship from a distance.
According to police reports, the West End Gang was originally dominated by Irish mobsters and has operated for years in Montreal. Reports suggest its tentacles now reach all over the island.
RCMP hauls in hashish cache in high-seas sting operation
Drugs seized on vessel off African coast were en route to Canada, police say
INGRID PERITZ AND TU THANH HA
MONTREAL -- It was a sting operation on the high seas that was daring even for seasoned Canadian police.
One day last month, a boat sailed secretively onto the waters off the coast of Africa to deliver an illicit cargo: nearly 1,000 bags of hashish from Pakistan destined for Canada, police said.
About 320 kilometres off the coast of Angola, the boat met with another vessel that was to pick up the drugs and deliver them to Montreal. Unbeknownst to the suppliers, however, the pickup vessel was filled with 50 undercover Mounties.
Yesterday, the RCMP in Montreal unveiled details of a swashbuckling maritime police operation that netted them 22.5 tonnes of hashish. Police said it was the first time Mounties headed out onto international waters to intercept drugs.
"This indicates that in the battle against drugs consumption and trafficking, we have no boundaries," said Staff Sergeant André Potvin, head of operations for the RCMP drug section in Montreal.
Police video, filmed from the RCMP boat, shows the May 10 sting under way. Filipino sailors on the deck of the supply boat are seen hoisting sacks of drugs onto their shoulders as their vessel bobs on the open water. They had already arranged the rendezvous and, after trading prearranged codes over maritime radio, believed the boat awaiting them was part of their drug-shipment operation, the RCMP said.
The drugs were destined for suspects connected to Montreal's notorious West End gang, police said.
According to Staff Sgt. Potvin, the Filipino sailors simply threw the sacks from their ship onto the Canadian boat. The Mounties, their cargo secured, then sailed back to Canada under protection from the National Defence frigate HMCS Fredericton.
Arrested in the sting operation were 57-year-old Peter Toman, his son Andrew Toman, 24, and Sidney Lallouz, a Montreal man with a long and checkered history, who police allege was acting as a financial broker for the shipment.
All three are from the Montreal area and are alleged to have controlled an import cell for the city's West End gang, the RCMP said. They have been charged with drug importation, conspiracy to import, possession for the purpose of trafficking and drug trafficking.
The RCMP became involved after learning that a man was seeking a crew and ship able to navigate on deep waters and to carry drugs, the agency said. Working with RCMP in Halifax, Mounties in Montreal chartered a boat and posed as maritime shippers.
Police did not seize the drugs right away. They said they delivered a portion of it to a man. On Friday, as the man was moving to protect the cache, they swooped down and carried out the arrests, seizing $195,000, Staff Sgt. Potvin said.
He said that another man had agreed to pay about $4.5-million for the hashish shipment.
The drug bust is only the latest chapter in the life of Sidney Lallouz, who for decades has been named in various drug cases and real-estate controversies in Montreal.
Mr. Lallouz is a convicted drug dealer who spent 30 months behind bars for conspiring to import 700 kilograms of hashish from Pakistan. After his release in 1985, he and two others set up a real-estate firm that partnered with a municipal agency in a development project near Old Montreal.
Police investigated the project because a series of land flips made the city agency pay $34.8-million for real estate evaluated at a third of that amount.
Mr. Lallouz left for Spain as banks were suing him for $5-million in real-estate-deal debts.
By 1994, he was back in Montreal, as a co-owner in a health spa and a small mall, using his Hebrew given name, Chimeon. Those businesses went under, with Revenue Canada looking for $1.1-million in unpaid taxes by Mr. Lallouz. U.S. authorities also alleged that $750,000 from a fugitive drug trafficker had been invested in the mall.
Next, Mr. Lallouz's name was linked to the Marché Central scandal, in which three businessmen were charged with fraud after a congregation of Roman Catholic nuns were hookwinked into investing $100-million in a Montreal shopping centre.
Court documents allege that Mr. Lallouz worked as a front for the three businessmen, and at one point he filed a court affidavit in a bid to claim three briefcases stuffed with $372,000 in small bills that had been found in a building garage and were believed to be linked to the Marché Central dealings.
Police also worked with RCMP liaison officers in England, Morocco, Pakistan, the United Arab Emirates and Spain.
Peter - June 8, 2006 03:10 PM (GMT)
Wife of West End suspect runs rehab centre
Reports say conspiracy born at centre, employee aided RCMP in investigation
Thursday, June 08, 2006
The director of a drug rehabilitation centre in Huntingdon wasn't talking yesterday about a news report that a conspiracy to import a massive quantity of hashish into Canada had been hatched at the centre.
"I have no comment to make," said Catherine Toman, president of the Heritage Home Foundation.
Toman is a psychotherapist with several years' experience at Addington House, a Montreal drug rehabilitation centre.
Her 59-year-old husband, Peter, and her 24-year-old son, Andrew, were arrested on Friday in connection with a a 22.5-tonne shipment of hashish smuggled into Canada during an RCMP undercover operation.
The people arrested are alleged to be part of what the RCMP described as an "import cell of the West End Gang," a criminal organization that originated out of Montreal's Irish community decades ago.
The couple's son-in-law, Shawn Daoust, 30, of Candiac, is being sought on an arrest warrant, also in connection with the hashish shipment.
Yesterday, the Journal de Montreal reported the conspiracy to smuggle $225 million worth of hashish began at Heritage Home, a centre located in Huntingdon, near the U.S. border, which offers drug addiction therapy.
According to the story, a person who worked at Heritage Home helped the RCMP in their 18-month investigation.
Another person listed on the board of the Heritage Home Foundation declined to comment on the story, saying he was unaware of its content.
A spokesperson for the RCMP would not comment, either, on the allegations about the drug rehabilitation centre.
On Monday, the RCMP called a news conference to herald the results of a police sting in which undercover officers manned a vessel that received a shipment of hashish, transferred at sea. The RCMP had rented the ship for the operation, dubbed Project Chabanel.
Peter Toman is being held until a bail hearing. He is currently serving a two-year suspended sentence he received after pleading guilty to two counts of fraud in April 2005.
According to court documents, the fraud involved two companies, Trekka Sportswear and Vetements Avenue des Ameriques, which Toman operated on Chabanel St.
He admitted to inflating the value of their accounts receivable to defraud the National Bank of Canada out of more than $2 million and the Scotia Bank out of more than $200,000. On April 13, 2005, Quebec Court Judge Claude Millette ordered Toman to make full restitution to both banks.
But while he was awaiting his sentence in the fraud case, Toman claimed to be in financial trouble and was relying on his parents and children for support.
Daoust, though not in custody, is supposed to be completing a sentence for a conviction on a marijuana offence.
On Feb. 24, 2005, he was sentenced to 15 months and two years' probation for marijuana production.
Daoust, Peter Toman and another man who was arrested on Friday, Sidney Lallouz, 57, are all named in an indictment charging them with conspiring to import hashish into Canada.
Andrew Toman is not named in the indictment, but the RCMP alleged this week he will be charged.
Lallouz is no stranger to scandals.
During the 1980s, he partnered with the city of Montreal as a real estate developer in numerous building projects. He suddenly took off for Spain, leaving millions of dollars of debt behind.
His name later emerged during the Marche Central Metropolitain real estate scandal of the 1990s.
He was never charged in the $85-million fleecing of an order of nuns but was alleged to have been used as a front by the people who carried out the massive fraud.
Lallouz and Peter Toman are to return to court on June 27.
Peter - June 8, 2006 05:02 PM (GMT)
Boom lures gangs: report
Alberta wealth fuels growth of crime groups
Jason van Rassel
Thursday, June 08, 2006
Sophisticated organized crime groups are putting down deeper roots and entering several illegal -- and legal -- businesses to capitalize on Alberta's booming economy, the province's law enforcement agencies say in an intelligence report released Wednesday.
Outlaw biker gangs are establishing puppet clubs to expand their influence over the drug trade throughout the province while two Calgary street gangs, FOB and FK, continue to wage a bloody feud for power and prestige that has already claimed at least four lives since 2002.
Amid the violence and the shifting alliances documented by the Criminal Intelligence Service Alberta in its annual report, there is also new evidence a large Asian crime syndicate in Calgary has quietly spread its tentacles into many illegal rackets while resisting attempts by police to shut them down.
"Another Asian-based organized crime group has been a significant enforcement priority, having connections to virtually every organized crime group in the Calgary area," the report says. "A large number of legitimate holdings facilitate the laundering of money from several diverse activities such as marihuana cultivation, distribution and exportation, loan sharking, methamphetamine production and distribution."
That intelligence, however, hasn't been enough for police to make any significant arrests.
"The organization has been targeted a number of times but has not been disrupted as the leaders have insulated themselves well from law enforcement," the report says.
Creating distance between the major players and their criminal activities is a long-standing tactic used by outlaw motorcycle gangs, and Criminal Intelligence Service Alberta says the province's dominant group -- the Hells Angels -- continues to do just that by creating puppet clubs such as Iron Steed and Deaths Hand.
The core membership in Alberta's three Hells Angels chapters, meanwhile, remains steady at about 60.
In the north, CISA says Hells Angels from B.C. "subsidize" a criminal group in Grande Prairie, while their Alberta counterparts back drug traffickers in Fort McMurray.
There is also evidence an Edmonton-based Asian gang, the Crazy Dragons, has been involved in Calgary's FOB-FK feud and is aligning itself with aboriginal gangs to get drugs into reserve communities.
"Drugs are the engine that drives that machine as far as organized crime goes," said Staff Sgt. Wes Elliott of the RCMP's drug section in Calgary.
Crack cocaine, marijuana and methamphetamine are the three dominant street drugs changing hands in the province.
The Hells Angels' historical dominance of the crystal meth trade remains unchanged, according to CISA, but a "traditional organized crime group" in Calgary is responsible for selling large amounts of cocaine and other drugs to other gangs.
"The group is (also) believed to be involved in illegal gaming, prostitution, loan-sharking, frauds and the fencing of stolen property," CISA says.
The agency doesn't specify whether the group is an established Mafia family, but an author of several books on the Italian mob said Alberta's wealth is a powerful lure.
Antonio Nicaso wrote in his book Bloodlines that a Toronto-based Mafia family considered buying Calgary nightclubs about five years ago as a way to launder money and establish a presence here.
"That's the trend: everybody is looking at Alberta for possible investment," Nicaso said Wednesday.
Organized crime groups have successfully expanded in part because of their ability to co-operate and move beyond borders, while police have been slower to do the same thing, Nicaso said.
"Police promise to increase the level of co-operation, but, practically, they are doing very little," he said.
Provincial officials, however, point to several joint-forces operations and integrated units that have seized significant amounts of drugs.
The Southern Alberta Marijuana Investigative Team -- made up of Calgary police and RCMP members -- seized nearly 60,000 marijuana plants worth an estimated $68 million last year.
Solicitor General Harvey Cenaiko said the province plans to create new joint initiatives to complement SAMIT and the Integrated Response to Organized Crime.
Cenaiko's department recently proposed the formation of a provincewide squad of drug investigators, in response to a government task force seeking strategies to fight crystal meth.
The government added 60 members to IROC in 2005, and Cenaiko said he envisions doubling that number with the creation of the drug squad.
"It'll have a tremendous impact," he said.
Peter - June 10, 2006 06:18 AM (GMT)
A victim of yesterday’s shooting is rushed into Sunnybrook hospital. (Dave Thomas, Sun)Shots hit 3 kin of slain gangster
Bullets fly in drive-by attack outside Vaughan social club
By BRIAN GRAY AND MICHELE HENRY, TORONTO SUN
June 9, 2006
VAUGHAN -- The three men gunned down in a supper-hour drive-by shooting in an industrial park yesterday were relatives of slain mobster Enio Mora, a source said.
The three victims were sitting outside a social club on Jevlan Dr. near Hwy. 7 and Weston Rd. when shots were fired, hitting one of the men in the chest, one in the abdomen and grazing the third in the head, York Regional Police said last night.
A small cafe table and three or four chairs remained outside the door of the nondescript club.
The injuries were not considered life-threatening and the victims were transported to three Toronto hospitals -- Sunnybrook, St. Michael's and Humber River Regional, Finch Ave. site, police said. The victim who was grazed in the head by a bullet was released late last night from Humber River.
A source identified the victims as Vince Mora, Vince's uncle and a third person also related to Enio Mora.
York Insp. Norn Miles confirmed one of the victims was the owner of the complex where the shootings took place but he did not release any names.
A source said the men are all related to Enio Mora, who was shot in the head and left on the side of Pine Valley Rd. in September 1996.
Mora, who was 47 at the time of his execution-style killing, was reputed to rank third in the Toronto mob's hierarchy, police said at the time.
The daughter of one of yesterday's shooting victims paced outside Sunnybrook hospital moments after her father was rushed inside.
"He was holding his hands up to protect himself," the pony-tailed woman told someone named John on the other end of her cellphone.
"So apparently he got shot in the stomach. They won't let me in. They're working on him."
Police said the man had been shot twice in the chest and was undergoing surgery and was in serious condition.
The victim was alert when he arrived at the Toronto hospital in a York Region ambulance.
He turned his head to look around as he was wheeled inside.
A Vaughan fire department van dropped off the victim's daughter and she rushed over to a paramedic nearby.
"Where's my father?" the anguished woman asked the medic, who was folding a blanket outside his ambulance. "He's my father."
As minutes turned into an hour, another daughter and several other family members arrived at the entrance to the emergency department.
They refused requests for interviews.
Police carried paper bags containing the victim's clothing out to a cruiser.
An elderly woman -- who was using a cane in her left hand and clutching the arm of a young man in her right -- walked up the circular driveway to the emergency room doors. Shock spread across her face and her eyes were red and glassy.
As she approached the other family members, one daughter reached for her sister.
"I didn't know Daddy was shot in the chest," she said, her voice shaky. "Is Daddy going to be okay?"
Meanwhile, tactical squad officers surrounded a home at Garriock Ct., near Islington Ave. and Rutherford Rd., where they took two young men and their parents in for questioning, Miles said.
LICENCE PLATE GIVEN
No charges have been laid.
A licence plate given to police by a witness at the shooting scene led officers to the address, but Miles said they may have nothing to do with the shootings.
"They're not suspects at this time and may not have any involvement with this whatsoever," Miles said. "But we're working with the information we got from the witness."
Neighbours said the family kept to themselves.
"This is the only family we know nothing about," a neighbour said.Victims' relative 'hit' in 1996
By SUN STAFF
June 9, 2006
Enio Mora was an easy target.
The body of the murdered mob kingpin ended up in the partly open trunk of his gold Cadillac on Teston Rd. in Vaughan in September 1996.
The suburban road near Maple is just north of the industrial mall in the Weston Rd-Hwy. 7 area where, according to sources, three of his relatives were gunned down yesterday afternoon.
His killers wouldn't have had a hard time finding the man once described by police as the GTA's third highest mobster.
Mora, 47, never hid his movements, his lawyer, Daniel Kayfetz, said at the time.
'YOU'RE EASY TO FOLLOW'
Kayfetz admitted that undercover cops had tailed Mora for years but he gave them little challenge.
"You're very predictable. You're easy to follow," police once told Mora.
The morning of the day he died had been routine.
Mora had breakfast with his three boys before they left for school. Then he and his wife walked their dogs.
"Enio was not a guy who went up back alleys. He was always out in the open," Kayfetz said. "He went to the clubs in the afternoon and at night he was home."
Police sources said Mora's killing was ordered by a "very significant figure" and was meant to send a message but they don't know why.
The hit didn't appear to be linked to other mob killings.
WOUND TO THE CHEEK
York Regional Police would not elaborate on Mora's wounds but Kayfetz said he learned there was one bullet wound to the cheek.
Kayfetz, who called Mora "an honorable guy," successfully appealed a 1983 deportation order against his client.
Federal immigration officials wanted Mora out of the country on the grounds of a 1981 drug trafficking conviction.
On appeal, officials accepted arguments that Mora did not deliver drugs to U.S. federal agents.
Mora had minor run-ins with cops over gambling but described drug dealers as "a piece of sh--," his lawyer said.VICTIMS RELATIVES OF SLAIN MOBSTER ENIO MORA
Gambling link to shooting?
Jun 10, 2006
Martin Derbyshire, Staff Writer
A shooting outside a Woodbridge social club this week may be connected to the illegal gambling business, an organized crime expert says.
All three victims of Thursday's shooting in an industrial complex on Jevlan Drive were known to police. Although investigators will not reveal their names, sources said all three were relatives of slain mobster Enio Mora.
At 260 pounds, Mr. Mora was an imposing figure with a nasty reputation for having a hand in illegal rackets, including building trade scams, loan sharking and protection of illegal gambling operations, organized crime expert and author Antonio Nicaso said.
After losing the lower part of his leg to a shotgun blast in 1979 when someone tried to rob a Toronto gambling club under his protection, Mr. Mora walked with a limp, which only served to make people more afraid of him, Mr. Nicaso added.
Mob associates often referred to him as Pegleg.
"There was no real mob tradition in his family," Mr. Nicaso said. "He moved to Canada from a city near Rome called Sora. He came from a nice family, but he grew up with many tough guys from Toronto in the 60s and 70s and became what police describe as a henchman for many prominent mobsters, including (Hamilton mob boss) John Papalia."
Mr. Mora was found dead in the trunk of his Cadillac in 1996 on the north side of Teston Road, between Pine Valley Drive and Weston Road.
He had been shot four times in the left temple at close range, according to court documents.
Speculation is his death was related to a money laundering deal gone bad.
But Thursday's shootings were not likely tied to the traditional Italian mafia with which Mr. Mora was mixed up. Instead, they are likely connected to loose knit organized crime groups involved in local illegal gambling operations, Mr. Nicaso said.
"This case should raise our concerns as citizens of York Region," he said. "I have seen an increase in gun related violence and an increase and also a competitiveness on a street level related to illegal gambling."
Mr. Mora dealt with loan sharking and gambling protection and avoided narcotics, Mr Nicaso said.
"He was old guard. This case is most likely still gambling, unfortunately in York Region there has been an increase in gambling houses and gaming activity."
Police said they found playing cards and video display machines inside the social club, but could not confirm if there was illegal gambling going on.
"They were socializing out front, somebody walked up and started shooting," York Regional Police Insp. Les Young said, adding the shooter fled a large, black SUV with tinted windows after firing his weapon.
There were a number of other people inside the club at the time, which opened just three weeks ago and has no name, Insp. Young said.
The club is like many in the Woodbridge area that are private members clubs frequented by members of the Italian community with connections back in Italy or similar work, he added.
Renata Pancini was just two doors away, inside her design shop in the Weston Road and Hwy. 7 area complex, when the shooting started around 6 p.m.
"I heard the shooting and some people fighting and screaming," she said. "I ran outside because my daughter had just left and I wanted to make sure she was OK. It was very scary."
A 56-year old man from Vaughan was shot in the arm. He was taken to hospital, treated and released, police said.
A 26-year-old Toronto man was shot in the abdomen and the arm and remains is hospital, but is expected to recover.
A 55-year-old Bolton man, who was also shot in the abdomen, is in stable condition, but remains in a critical care unit. He is also expected to recover.
Investigators are probing possible connections to organized crime and looking for the shooter.
Hollander - June 22, 2006 02:01 PM (GMT)
Police arrest 36 in major Quebec drug sweep
Updated Wed. Jun. 21 2006 11:30 PM ET
CTV.ca News Staff
Dozens of people were arrested Wednesday morning after more than 350 police officers carried out a massive operation aimed at dismantling a Quebec drug-trafficking ring.
Thirty-six people -- including two ex-police officers -- have been arrested so far in the raids.
Officers from the RCMP, aboriginal police and the Surete du Quebec in Montreal, Sherbrooke and Kanesatake -- a Mohawk community outside of Montreal -- carried out the raids.
"This investigation led us to 42 searches this morning, 24 in the Sherbrooke area, 16 in Montreal and one in Kanasatake, where the head of this network was arrested," spokesman Guy Amyot told The Canadian Press.
Another was carried out in Indian Head, Sask.
Police allege a 48-year-old Kanesateke resident was the ringleader of the drug-trafficking ring and had ties to the Hells Angels in Montreal, Sherbrooke and Trois-Rivieres.
Sharon Simon has been charged with trafficking, conspiracy, money laundering and gangsterism.
The two ex-cops have been identified as Carl Thomas, 44, and Daniel Pepin, 40. Police arrested Thomas in Magog and Pepin in Mirabel north of Montreal.
Both had served with the Magog municipal police force in the Eastern Townships of Quebec.
"We're looking at an organization that was distributing and also producing marijuana and ecstasy to be exported to the U.S." RCMP spokesperson Sylvain L'Heureux told reporters.
Amyot said the network had close links to Hells Angels chapters in Montreal, Sherbrooke and Quebec City.
The Mounties also say the ring was allegedly involved in laundering $4.8 million US in the last eight months and had the capacity to transport about 100 lbs. of marijuana per week to the U.S.
"I asked the RCMP what that's worth, (they) said about $200,000 a week, and of course in a 14-month investigation, that's a lot of money," CTV Montreal's Herb Luft reported.
Suspects have been charged with gangsterism, drug trafficking, conspiracy to traffic in drugs, money laundering, and possession of prohibited weapons.
A total of 125 charges have been laid against the 36 suspects, who will begin to make their first court appearances Thursday.
The raid is part of an investigation launched in April 2005 under the name "Project CLEOPATRE."
Between Oct. 1, 2005 and May 23, 2006, officers also seized close to one-million in US and Canadian dollars; six firearms including an AK-47 assault rifle found in a vehicle driven by one of the suspects; and marijuana, cocaine and "many incriminating documents."
Police seized 13 vehicles, including some luxury cars.
These seizures were conducted between October 1st, 2005 and May 23, 2006 near the Canadian border and elsewhere in Quebec and the United States.
With files from The Canadian Press
Hollander - June 30, 2006 04:04 PM (GMT)
Harrison pot sting linked to major crime
Hells Angels; The Mafia; Asian gangs
Friday, June 30, 2006 CREDIT: Photo courtesy of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement
Video surveillance shows a Bell JetRanger helicopter in Okanogan National Forest in Washington state on July 27, 2005. The image, from the Operation Frozen Timber investigation, shows suspects transferring what law authorities claim are drugs into a pickup truck.
BELLINGHAM, Wash. -- An unprecedented two-year U.S.-Canada investigation into helicopter drug smuggling linked to crime syndicates -- ranging from bikers to the mob -- has led to 46 arrests and the seizure of marijuana and cocaine worth nearly $40 million.
Law enforcement officials from both countries called Operation Frozen Timber a major blow to organized crime groups that had developed a sophisticated scheme to move large quantities of B.C. pot into the United States via helicopters and small airplanes.
The aircraft would land clandestinely in small clearings carved by the smugglers in remote forest areas across Washington state.
"The deck was stacked against the investigators," said Julie Myers, the assistant secretary for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. "One smuggler was quoted as saying they were better than FedEx and delivered anywhere in Washington state."
Myers joined representatives of the RCMP, the Washington State Patrol, U.S. Customs and Border Protection and the U.S. Forest Service at a news conference in a hangar in Bellingham, in front of a helicopter and small plane used in the operation.
The agencies unveiled extraordinary video surveillance of helicopters dropping off hundreds of kilograms of pot for waiting couriers as investigators with cameras hid in nearby bushes.
"These smuggling networks compromised the interest of our international borders and literally took border smuggling to new heights," Myers said.
In total, investigators seized more than 3,600 kilograms of marijuana and 365 kilograms of cocaine.
John McKay, the U.S. attorney for the western district of Washington, said plainly: "These organized crime groups are motivated by one thing --greed.
"With Operation Frozen Timber, we not only cut into their profits with countless seizures of drugs and money, we demonstrated that there is a high price to pay."
The Canadian part of the investigation was dubbed E-Printer and focused on the alleged kingpin of the crime group, 44-year-old Daryl Desjardins.
As The Vancouver Sun revealed Thursday, Desjardins ran a popular up-scale restaurant called the Breakwater on the beachfront at Harrison Lake until police moved in on his operation last month.
The controversial businessman, who was found in the U.S. to have pocketed millions in a stock fraud scheme, remains in custody, as does his co-accused, Dustin Melvin Haugen, 24.
The Sun has learned that police believe Desjardins was the middleman for several organized crime groups, including the Hells Angels, the Mafia and Indo-Canadian and Asian gangsters. Police say many of the criminals partied at Desjardins' restaurant, leaving luxury vehicles such as Hummers, Ferraris, Vipers and Harleys in the parking lot.
"He operated almost solely as a broker to organized crime," RCMP Insp. Dan Malo of the Integrated Border Enforcement Team said in an interview. "He had a helicopter and he would fly for all the different groups."
But Desjardins' high-flying life was grounded May 9 when he and Haugen allegedly returned from a cross-border run in the Bell JetRanger he kept in a tin shed beside the Breakwater.
Agents had tracked the aircraft from its U.S. destination -- a state wildlife area in Okanogan County where 150 kilograms of marijuana had been dropped. Two men were arrested on the U.S. side of the border after they loaded the pot into a pickup truck and attempted to drive away.
As the JetRanger touched down in the parking lot beside the restaurant, Desjardins and Haugen were nabbed and the helicopter seized.
They face charges of importing and exporting marijuana and trafficking marijuana, while Desjardins has also been charged with possession of a firearm. They are in jail.
Haugen also remains under police investigation in connection with a March 2005 incident in which he was allegedly behind the controls of another Bell JetRanger when it crashed on liftoff, killing his 22-year-old girlfriend. He fled the scene, but was later located by police.
The U.S. drug ring leader, Robert Kessling, was sentenced to 17 years in jail for his role in the trafficking conspiracy involving 149 kilograms of cocaine and more than 181 kilograms of B.C. pot.
The joint operation intercepted 17 separate drug shipments, including Washington state's largest cocaine seizure of last year -- 149 kilograms packed into five suitcases -- in February 2005.
Malo said more arrests are expected on the Canadian side of the border as the probe continues.
A major danger to the public is the fact that many of the pilots are unlicensed and flying old helicopters that had been sold for scrap and are no longer airworthy. They fly low, under radar, to avoid detection, increasing the risk of crashes.
Not only did Haugen's girlfriend die last year in an accident, but two other suspected helicopter smugglers also crashed near Hope last September after returning from a suspected smuggling flight to the U.S.
"Make no mistake; these criminal organizations pose a threat to our safe homes and communities. Pilots were flying unsafe aircraft often at dangerously low altitudes," said RCMP Chief Supt. Bud Mercer.
"The violent nature of these organized crime groups and the high-powered weapons they were in possession of posed a direct threat to the citizens of Canada and the United States."
But Mercer also stressed the greater danger is the "cultural damage" that the illicit drug trade is doing to communities.
Few details were released about the 40 people facing charges in the U.S. or the six arrested in Canada. So far, only Desjardins and Haugen have been charged on this side of the border.
But many of those arrested in the U.S. also appear to be Canadian, from a Sun review of court records. Eight of the 40 are awaiting extradition.
The U.S. court records obtained by The Sun show a similar pattern of aircraft drops and deliveries and a sophisticated cross-border network of conspirators who use radios and BlackBerrys to communicate. Those involved claimed they would be paid $150 a pound to arrange the shipments or pick up the dope and deliver it to locations across Washington state.
Take the case of Jake Humphrey, Paul McCluskey and Shane Menzel, three B.C. men who were nabbed in Washington state last September.
First, law enforcement agents saw suspicious tree-clearing by non-forest service employees in the woods near Darrington, Skagit County last Sept. 6.
About 9:30 a.m. the next day, McCluskey and Humphrey each drove a vehicle towards the cleared area --a suspected helicopter landing zone -- as agents watched. They waited in two separate locations. An hour later, a Robinson R-22 helicopter appeared above them, landing close to where McCluskey was standing. The pilot, Menzel, got out as McCluskey removed two large hockey bags from the passenger side. He then opened side compartments on the helicopter's skids and began removing vacuum-sealed bags of marijuana. Menzel began refuelling the helicopter from two containers at the scene.
The U.S. agents moved in and grabbed them. McCluskey was holding a Cobra radio.
As the agents moved in on Humphrey, they heard a voice on McCluskey's radio asking "Is everything okay?"
It wasn't. Humphrey was arrested.
Menzel later told authorities that he had flown three earlier trips, each time working with McCluskey, who had crossed the border into Washington to pick up the marijuana. Menzel admitted to taking a package of cash back to Canada on one trip.
Humphrey and McCluskey would drive separately across the border about half an hour a part. They would meet at the Denny's restaurant parking lot in Bellingham, and rent a vehicle to head out to the loading zone.
All three have now pleaded guilty and are serving sentences.
Peter - July 22, 2006 05:15 PM (GMT)
Who will be GTA's next mob boss?
There's a lack of candidates vying to be Toronto area's next godfather, although experts say leadership vacuum won't last
Jul. 21, 2006
WANTED: MAFIA GODFATHER. HIGH-LEVEL EXPERIENCE WORKING WITH OTHER CRIME GROUPS A PLUS BUT NOT NECESSARY.
Toronto area mobsters haven't taken out a classified ad for a new godfather — yet — but there's clearly a leadership vacuum atop the local underworld.
Murders, court actions and voluntary retirements have drastically depleted the top level of the local mob ranks, according to police specialists.
While the local mob remains strong in drug trafficking, gambling and fraud, it's hard to remember a time when its leaders were weaker, organized crime experts say.
Antonio Nicaso, who has written several books on the underworld, said no one person has emerged as an obvious mob leader for the Greater Toronto Area.
"Why would you follow someone if you don't think they can lead you anywhere?" asks Nicaso, a senior partner in Soave Consulting Group of Concord, a security firm employing former police organized crime specialists.
Despite the apparent dearth of quality local leaders, there's plenty of local mob activity in the GTA, according to the latest Criminal Intelligence Service of Canada organized crime report.
The report, prepared by police specialists on organized crime, notes the local mob (which police call "traditional" and "Italian-based" organized crime) is involved in a wide variety of criminal enterprises.
They include running illegal Internet gambling operations, illegal gaming establishments in cafés and restaurants, bookmaking, credit card fraud, and distributing illegal drugs, including cocaine, heroin, marijuana, ecstasy, gamma hydroxybutyrate (GHB), anabolic steroids and psilocybin (magic mushrooms).
"Legitimate businesses targeted by (traditional organized crime) groups include: construction and transport companies, restaurants and bars, and import/export companies," the report continues.
Not everyone associated with the local mob is burning with ambition for the top job.
And, contrary to popular belief, you can leave the mob, if you keep your mouth shut or move far away.
One local septuagenarian, who was a prime suspect in a gangland slaying, has apparently decided he prefers sunning himself in Florida to local gangland intrigues.
Another long-time local mobster, who's 60, seems to have decided he'd rather be a good father than a godfather. He's putting his young daughter before his long-standing pursuits of counterfeiting and heroin trafficking.
Meanwhile, long-time local mob power Pietro (Peter) Scarcella, 56, won't be free to vie for the top job for several years.
Scarcella was sentenced earlier this year to 11 years in prison for his role in a bungled mob hit in a North York sandwich shop that left bystander Louise Russo, a mother of three, paralyzed.
One of Scarcella's intended targets that day was Sicilian mob leader Michele Modica, who seemed to be pushing for more local power at Scarcella's expense.
Modica has since been deported — for his second time — to Italy.
While Toronto has never had an all-powerful godfather, it's hard to remember when things have been so weak at the leadership level, mob experts say.
"It's open," says Anthony Saldutto, formerly of the elite police Combined Forces Special Enforcement Unit, and now president of Detek Investigative Group, a Concord security firm.
"It's been (open) always but it seems even more so now."
Over the past decade or so, mob experts say Vito Rizzuto of Montreal has filled much of the leadership void, as a commuting godfather of sorts.
Rizzuto, who once ran a waste disposal business here, is currently in custody in Quebec, fighting an extradition order that would send him to the U.S. to face a racketeering indictment. It alleges he fired shots that killed three Bonanno crime family members in 1981 in New York.
A police report filed in his extradition case alleges that Rizzuto is widely considered to be the head of the Mafia in Canada.
There has been considerable interest in mob circles in the Toronto-area visits of a Montreal man believed by many to be Rizzuto's hand-picked successor.
In one visit this year, the Montrealer, accompanied by a bodyguard who could barely wedge himself into their rented sport utility vehicle, met with a Woodbridge man who's believed to be a suspect in the Feb. 9, 2005, murder of 58-year-old Vincenzo Raco of Brampton.
Raco was facing loan sharking charges when he was shot in the head in a van outside a Woodbridge medical centre.
The Montrealer, who flies here first-class, is also considered to have friendly ties to a long-standing Hamilton mob family .
Meanwhile, Alfonso Caruana, of Woodbridge, is fighting extradition to Italy, where he would face almost 22 years in prison if convicted of laundering drug money. Caruana was charged in Canada in 1998 with conspiracy to import and traffic cocaine, and sentenced to 18 years in prison.
Whatever happens in Toronto will likely impact the nearby Hamilton mob, and vice versa, mob experts say.
John (Pops) Papalia of Hamilton was once considered Ontario's top mobster, and a frequent visitor to Toronto. Papalia was murdered in Hamilton in April 1997.
Hamilton mobster Pasquale (Pat) Musitano, 36, was originally charged alongside his younger brother Angelo with hiring a local hitman to commit the murder. However, those first-degree murder charges were withdrawn when they pleaded guilty to the 1997 gangland murder of Carmen Barillaro of Niagara Falls, a Papalia lieutenant.
The Musitanos are due to be released from minimum security Beaver Creek Institution in Gravenhurst on Oct. 5.
"I think it's going to get heated up once the Musitanos come out," Saldutto says.
Armand La Barge, chief of York Regional Police, wouldn't comment on leadership contenders in the local mob, but he didn't dispute there's a seismic shift underway.
"Vacuums don't stay vacuums for very long," La Barge said.
Hollander - July 26, 2006 09:33 AM (GMT)
July 26, 2006
Victim of brazen slaying known to police
By ELIZA BARLOW, EDMONTON SUN
A motorist gunned down in broad daylight on a city street has been identified as 35-year-old Dung Tri Tran of Edmonton.
Tran died of multiple gunshot wounds Monday after the luxury Infiniti SUV he was driving came under gunfire near 107 Avenue and 112 Street around 12:45 p.m.
Police spokesman Karen Carlson said Tran is known to police and the gang unit is assisting in the investigation.
A man of the same name and age was charged in a drug bust last summer. On Aug. 10, 2005, police raided an Edmonton home and found 235 grams of crack cocaine, 391 grams of powder cocaine and $5,000 in cash.
Dung Tri Tran was charged with drug possession and trafficking in connection with that raid.
Faint bloodstains remained yesterday on the grass at the intersection where Tran took some of his last breaths.
Police said Tran was driving the SUV south on 112 Street when it was blocked by a Chevy van. Shots were fired and one suspect ran away while the van took off, they said.
Tran slumped out of the driver's side door and collapsed on the ground, while the car rolled to a stop against a building on 112 Street south of 107 Avenue.
Police say they found the Chevy van, which is being combed for clues, behind a home at 111 Avenue and 113 Street. No arrests have been made and police are asking anyone with information to contact city cops or Crime Stoppers.
The brazen slaying comes on the heels of a series of deadly gang-related shootings in the city.
On June 20, 19-year-old Shawn Michael Yalowica died in a gang-related shooting outside a south-side karaoke bar.
B.C. Hells Angels associate Michael Rieger, 37, was shot dead near 92 Street and 34 Avenue on June 18.
And on May 29, 25-year-old Jerry Nguyen, who had links to the notorious Trang gang, was found dead of a gunshot wound inside a home near 155 Avenue and 46 Street.
All three killings remain unsolved.
Meanwhile, an autopsy has confirmed that the city's 16th homicide victim of the year, Matthew Alexis, died from blood loss due to multiple stab wounds. Shane Christopher Arcand is charged with second-degree murder in the case.
Peter - August 4, 2006 05:37 PM (GMT)
Police say lawyers use status to aid Mafia
'Astounding' misuse of Canadian legal system without precedent, new book suggests
Thursday, August 03, 2006
Police suspect a handful of practising lawyers play an indispensable role in the dealings of Canada's most notorious crime family, protecting sensitive meetings from police scrutiny with their mere presence, and even subscribing to cellphone numbers for mobsters in order to thwart police eavesdropping, a new book reveals.
In fact, according to police, the organization of reputed Mafia don Vito Rizzuto has a special "lawyers' branch" that is considered by police to be "one of its most protected, secretive and valued divisions," the book says.
The revelations, culled from interviews with police sources, classified documents and court filings, are contained in The Sixth Family: The Collapse of the New York Mafia and the Rise of Vito Rizzuto.
The book, chronicling the history of Mr. Rizzuto's ascent in the underworld, is being released this week in North America by publisher John Wiley & Sons.
Authors Lee Lamothe and Adrian Humphreys, a National Post organized-crime reporter, say that, according to police, the so-called "lawyers' branch" is a distinguishing feature of the Montreal-based clan's operations and a key to its success.
Mr. Humphreys said such extensive co-operation between members of the legal profession and the criminal underworld is unprecedented.
"That was one of the things that was so astounding to us," he said in an interview. "We have never encountered such systematic, large-scale and apparently purposeful misuse of the legal system."
According to The Sixth Family, police believe lawyers have been involved in such enterprises as money laundering, the setting up of shell companies and fraudulently obtaining official documents and accessing personal details about private individuals. Police also believe lawyers have been offering up their phone lines and opening cellphone accounts in their names.
And much like Uncle Junior would take refuge in his doctor's examination room to evade the listening ear of law enforcement on The Sopranos, the book says Rizzuto crime associates have turned to lawyers' chambers to conduct business out of the earshot of police wiretaps.
"Cleverness and ruthlessness are hallmarks of the Sicilian Mafia -- and especially of the Sixth Family. They have avoided serious prosecution for 50 years," Mr. Humphreys said. "Maybe now we know why."
The Sixth Family is what the authors have dubbed the Rizzuto Mafia to explain its place alongside the notorious Five Families of New York that have long exerted influence over the U.S. criminal underworld.
The Sixth Family reveals that no fewer than 11 lawyers from different law firms in Quebec have "raised police suspicions" for their close ties to Mr. Rizzuto, while another is believed to have had involvement with the clan's Ontario branch. The authors are quick to point out that by no means all counsel who have represented Mr. Rizzuto or his associates in their legal affairs ought to be a source of suspicion and that in fact the vast majority are above reproach.
"There are lawyers who represent the Montreal Mafia appropriately and respectfully," Mr. Humphreys said.
"And according to our information there are a small number whom police suspect don't."
The Sixth Family states: "Police claim that practising lawyers are involved in the family's enterprises to such an extent that a small proportion of them is considered by investigators to be a distinct branch of the organization.
"Police believe that the main cells of the organization each have their own designated lawyers," it adds. "This would be a key distinction from other criminal organizations that maintain above-board but ongoing professional relationships with lawyers."
Sylvie Berthiaume, the director of communications for the Barreau du Quebec, said the book, for the most part, does not name names and no complaints of that nature have been filed with the professional regulatory body's disciplinary committee.
But she said the allegations raise serious issues.
"Globally there is a lot of supposition and the police sources are not identified, but it nevertheless concerns us," Ms. Berthiaume said.
"It's clear that those kinds of things are unacceptable and indefensible and the Barreau would take any such complaints very seriously."
The book notes that two of Mr. Rizzuto's three children are lawyers: son Leonardo and daughter Bettina. Both work in the firm of attorneys who have represented their father in various matters, including an impaired driving charge. Lawyers for the firm were also part of his legal team during extradition proceedings that are still playing out in court.
The book states that Leonardo Rizzuto "causes tremendous grief for police investigating Vito and his associates because of his special legal standing.
"Leonardo, police say, has frequently sat in on meetings between family members, including his father and brother -- extending to the meetings the protection of lawyer-client privilege."
According to Ms. Berthiaume, both Bettina Rizzuto and Leonardo Rizzuto are members in good standing of the Quebec bar with no disciplinary history.
Unsavoury ties between the legal profession and organized crime have been well-documented throughout history, said Margaret Beare, a former director of the Nathanson Centre for the Study of Organized Crime and Corruption at York University's Osgoode Hall law school.
Sometimes a lawyer's involvement in illicit activity is unwitting, she said, or due to blackmail.
But when attorneys perform sustained, long-term legal services for the underworld, she said history has shown the line can all too easily be crossed from legitimate business to active participation.
"There is a difference between providing a service -- a one-off kind of thing -- and specializing so intimately with the operations of a criminal organization that you are no longer just a neutral party providing a service, but a member of the criminal organization," said Prof. Beare, who, along with Stephen Schneider, is the author of the upcoming book Money Laundering in Canada: The Chasing of Dirty and Dangerous Dollars.
Ben Soave, a 35-year RCMP veteran who started Soave Strategy Group after retiring, said co-operation between lawyers and organized crime is an old scourge that has become more complicated to fight as investigative techniques and the legal system have grown in complexity.
"It's frustrating simply because sometimes you're investigating a major crime and you hit a stumbling block because of a lawyer," said Mr. Soave, a former chief superintendent, who wrote an unclassified report about the abuse of lawyer-client privilege. "You're prevented from taking down a whole criminal organization."
The alleged practice of using members of the bar to shield illicit activities is a source of growing frustration to organized-crime investigators, the book says, who are duty bound to stop recording any wiretaps that might be covered by lawyer-client privilege.
Mr. Humphreys said police officers and Crown attorneys he interviewed for the book are frustrated at the iron-clad protection privilege provides -- even when misused.
"They were literally shaking when they were talking to us about it," he said. "They were throwing their hands up in the air; they were irate."
For the police, he said, it was an impediment to doing their job.
For the lawyers, it was a personal insult that their profession could be brought into such disrepute, he added.
Although the Supreme Court of Canada has repeatedly upheld lawyer-client privilege as a cornerstone of the legal system, Montreal lawyer Marc Sauve said the protection is not ironclad.
"It's not absolute," said Mr. Sauve, the director of research and legislation for the Barreau du Quebec. "There are exceptions."
Confidentiality can be lifted if someone's life is at stake, he pointed out, whether that be due to a murder plot, an expressed desire to commit suicide or any other imminent danger.
Lawyers also have a duty to speak out if they are informed of a criminal conspiracy, Mr. Sauve said, and they certainly have no immunity from prosecution if they participate in an illegal act. While he acknowledged police investigations of corruption, abuse and criminality among members of the legal profession can be tricky, he insisted such probes are not impossible.
"In this context, investigations can be done," Mr. Sauve said. "It's not easy but it's not insurmountable."
For police investigators, it's a lot easier said than done, said Mr. Soave, the retired RCMP chief superintendent.
"There really are no loopholes," he said. "There need to be extenuating circumstances -- and really extenuating circumstances.... Most high-level criminals are aware of this and they take advantage of it and exploit it."
Examples in the book of how the solicitor-client privilege has been abused include the case of "The Messenger."
So nicknamed by police, The Sixth Family says the attorney carries advice and warnings from Montreal to Toronto and New York City.
"The lawyers' jobs are often simple: Keep the lines of communication open and prevent Vito's name and affairs from being brought up in court," the book contends.
It also mentions another case, where an unnamed attorney allegedly handled a payment from a Toronto car dealer on behalf of Mr. Rizzuto, only to give it back when the salesman threatened to involve police.
"That the substantial sum was returned when the businessman raised the possibility of exposing the lawyer's involvement suggests the value placed on the branch's secrecy," The Sixth Family states.
The only attorneys' names that are mentioned in the book come from well-publicized court cases.
Joe Lagana, who once represented Mr. Rizzuto, pleaded guilty to laundering drug money along with three junior lawyers from his firm in the mid-1990s.
Ms. Berthiaume said Mr. Lagana is no longer a member of the Quebec bar.
In Montreal, the case against attorney Jose Guede collapsed in 2005 after a judge found an RCMP officer had influenced the testimony of a police informant.
The stay of proceedings is currently being appealed by the Crown, a federal justice department official said, so the drug conspiracy charges will continue to loom over Mr. Guede until a higher court makes a ruling in the case.
Vito Rizzuto was named in the indictment against Mr. Guede although he was not charged himself. Mr. Guede works in the same firm as the Rizzuto offspring and continues to be a practicing member of the Quebec bar.
Ms. Berthiaume said any investigation by the Barreau of allegations against him that have come out in court would only be conducted once the criminal case is settled. During his trial, the court heard he played poker on occasion with Vito Rizzuto.
Mr. Rizzuto is currently in prison in Quebec as the United States seeks to extradite him to stand trial on racketeering charges stemming from the 1981 slaying of three associates of New York's Bonanno clan.
Laurentian - August 14, 2006 02:03 PM (GMT)
Laurentian - August 18, 2006 04:50 PM (GMT)
Peter - August 31, 2006 05:01 PM (GMT)
Bikers ambush car passenger
Year's 28th killing in Montreal
Thursday, August 31, 2006
Police are still searching for the motorcycle-riding killers who shot to death a 35-year-old man yesterday afternoon in Riviere des Prairies.
Two men were driving in a Cadillac on Henri Bourassa Blvd. E. at Rodolphe Forget St. about 3:30 p.m. when two men aboard a motorcycle passed the car on the passenger side and fired several times at the occupants before speeding away.
The man in the passenger seat was fatally wounded.
Police would not give further details about the victim.
It was the 28th homicide recorded this year in Montreal. There were 18 at the corresponding date last year.
Montreal police said last night they don't have a description of the assailants. Police spokesperson Benoit Couture said he could not confirm whether the killing was gang-related.
The driver, 36, suffered minor wounds and was questioned by police.
A woman driving a car ahead of the victims' vehicle was so startled by the attack that she plowed into a tractor-trailer in front of her. She and her passenger were not injured.
The shooting took place in an isolated industrial area.
Mafioso tué en pleine rue
C'EST L'HEURE DE LA TRANSITION DANS LE MILIEU CRIMINEL
Hugo de Grandpré
Le départ de Vito Rizzuto commencerait peut-être déjà à peser lourd dans le milieu interlope montréalais. C'est ce que la police pense à la suite de l'assassinat en pleine rue hier du jeune mafioso Domenico Macri, à Rivière-des-Prairies.
Macri, 34 ans, a été abattu alors qu'il roulait en voiture dans l'est de Montréal vers 15h30.
Au moins cinq coups de feu ont été tirés en sa direction alors qu'il se trouvait sur le siège du passager d'une Cadillac.
Deux hommes vêtus de noir chevauchant une puissante motocyclette se sont approchés du véhicule arrêté au coin des rues Henri-Bourassa et Rodolphe-Forget. L'un d'eux a ouvert le feu à travers une vitre latérale de la voiture.
Un mort, un blessé
Tandis que les assaillants filaient dans une autre direction, le chauffeur de la Cadillac, bien que blessé, a réussi à conduire son véhicule jusqu'à la rue René-Masson, à un demi-kilomètre du lieu de l'attaque.
Les deux hommes ont été transportés à l'hôpital où l'on a constaté le décès de Macri.
Domenico Macri, 35 ans, était le fils de Rocco Macri, vieux caïd du clan calabrais. Il a été condamné au début des années 90 dans une affaire de trafic d'héroïne. Depuis ce temps, il était actif dans les cafés de Rivière-des-Prairies, secteur où les gangs de rue prennent de l'influence.
Il s'agit d'une affaire «très importante», assure un policier spécialisé dans la lutte contre le crime organisé. Avec l'extradition de Vito Rizzuto pour les États-Unis le 17 août, l'occasion est propice pour les jeunes criminels de s'imposer davantage, avant que le successeur du réputé chef mafieux n'assoie son autorité. C'est d'autant plus plausible que l'ex-chef guerrier des Hells Angels Nomads, Maurice Boucher, et son dauphin Mario Brouillette, sont eux aussi hors d'état de nuire, derrière les barreaux.
Deuxième incident du genre
C'est le deuxième incident significatif à se produire à Montréal depuis le renvoi de Rizzuto aux États-Unis pour un triple meurtre commis à Brooklyn en 1981 pour le compte de la famille Bonanno. Le 23 août dernier, Lorenzo Giordano, membre en vue du clan sicilien, a ouvert le feu sur une Porsche, devant le restaurant Cavalli, rue Peel, tandis qu'un influent associé des Hells Angels, Charles Huneault, se trouvait à l'intérieur. Il n'y a pas eu de blessé mais la police a longuement interrogé un des suspects, qui a été ensuite relâché, faute de plainte.
Ça bouge dans le milieu
Tout comme pour le meurtre de Macri, on ignore les motifs de cette attaque inattendue. On sait par contre que Giordano est un lieutenant de Francesco Arcadi, le candidat le plus sérieux à la succession de Vito Rizzuto. Bref, l'heure est à la transition dans le milieu criminel de la métropole.
Laurentian - September 1, 2006 12:27 PM (GMT)
Peter - September 21, 2006 01:31 PM (GMT)
Accused mobsters in GTA
Sep. 21, 2006
PETER EDWARDS AND RICHARD BRENNAN
Six men identified by prosecutors investigating the Mafia in Southern Italy are living openly in the Greater Toronto Area, undisturbed by Canadian authorities, the Toronto Star has learned.
Identified by Italian authorities as fugitives, the men face a range of charges in Italy, including heroin trafficking, gun running and extortion.
The six are under surveillance by Canadian police, but York Regional Police Chief Armand La Barge said there's little else his force can do until the federal government and Italian authorities move to have them extradited or deported.
"It's frustrating for us, the incredible time it takes for these processes to be decided," La Barge said.
The presence of the men in Canada raises questions about how hard Canadian and Italian authorities are pushing to bring accused organized criminals to justice and whether criminals can count on lax enforcement of Canadian immigration laws and procedures to remain in the country for decades.
It remains unclear how vigorously the Italian authorities have pursued extradition cases but, with the alleged Mafia members no longer in Italian jurisdiction, their cases are now primarily the concern of Canadian police — who must rely on federal immigration authorities to take action now that the alleged fugitives have settled in the Greater Toronto Area.
Despite the ongoing surveillance, the alleged fugitives say they have nothing to hide — and insist they are innocent victims of mistaken identity.
One of the six men, Cosimo D'Agostino, 68, of Woodbridge, says he can't understand why he might be described as a fugitive Mafia heroin trafficker.
"What are you talking about?" D'Agostino asked when contacted by the Star.
"I'm an old man, having a pension," D'Agostino said. "I don't know nothing about that."
Immigration Canada officials couldn't explain the apparent lack of action in moving against the alleged fugitives. D'Agostino became a Canadian citizen in September 1971, before he was charged with heroin trafficking.
Italian authorities say D'Agostino fled to Canada in the late 1970s after being sentenced to 10 years in prison because he was caught carrying 4.5 kilos of heroin in a false bottom of his suitcase at Fiumincino Airport in Rome.
His trial heard that the heroin was bound for Toronto and members of the Siderno organized crime group. D'Agostino, who now lives in a ranch-style semi-detached brick home on a Woodbridge cul-de-sac, has been unlawfully at large since bolting from Italy after escaping from a hospital, where he was undergoing treatment after his conviction, Italian authorities say.
D'Agostino said he came to Canada about a decade ago, and that he's baffled by the suggestion that he is well connected to high-level Mafiosi in Italy and Canada.
But Italian judicial authorities have been in contact with Canadian authorities to discuss extradition.
Italian prosecutor Nicola Gratteri, who has pursued almost 1,000 members of the Calabrian Mafia over the past 20 years, declined to comment on individual cases involving fugitives who have bolted to Canada.
However, he did say that Europe moves more quickly in extraditing mobsters wanted on anti-Mafia warrants than Canada or the United States.
"In Canada, it's a little bit harder," Gratteri said in a telephone interview from Reggio Calabria, in southern Italy.
"The U.S. and Canada require more paperwork and more evidence than other countries in Europe," Gratteri said through an interpreter.
Only homicide charges have no statute of limitations in Italy, he said, adding that charges for Mafia associations expire after 7 1/2 years.
"Canada is a good country to hide in because they can hide themselves in the larger, law-abiding Italian population, and it's a big country," Gratteri said. "They can go almost anywhere.
"It's a good place to hide."
According to Canada's immigration department, if anyone is found to have provided misleading information in their application for Canadian citizenship, steps can be taken to have it revoked and the person deported.
"You can't become a Canadian citizen, you can't get a visa to get into the country if you have been charged in another country for something that is against the law in Canada," said Melanie Carkner of Citizenship and Immigration Canada.
However, Immigration Minister Monte Solberg's office refused to comment on the alleged mobsters living openly in the GTA, and could not say if there is any ongoing investigation.
Two of the men are Canadian citizens, two have permanent resident status and two are here illegally.
Officials could not explain how alleged Mafia fugitives could have obtained citizenship if they had prior criminal records or had been charged with crimes, since all applicants must first undergo security checks.
Any of the men who obtained Canadian citizenship before committing any crimes cannot now be forced to leave the country without a foreign government launching extradition proceedings and presenting evidence to back up its case, according to Anna Pape of the Canada Border Services Agency.
"If they (Italian authorities) have evidence that they want to share with us, then we can proceed," Pape said.
La Barge said the York police force is aware that fugitives wanted overseas for crimes including extortion, drug trafficking and Mafia associations have settled in his jurisdiction, but there's not much his officers can do besides monitor the situation until governments move to have them extradited or deported.
Even if charges are laid eventually, it's not unusual for fugitives to have another two or three years of freedom as their cases go through the courts, La Barge said.
"It's frustrating for us, the incredible time it takes for these processes to be decided," La Barge said.
Keeping track of the six fugitives has placed extra pressure on the force, but the men are living openly in the GTA.
Angelino (Angelo) Figliomeni, 43, who frequents a private social club in a Vaughan strip mall on Woodstream Blvd., served eight years in prison in Italy for weapons charges and Mafia association.
He is wanted in Italy for weapons and criminal conspiracy charges and Mafia membership, Italian authorities say.
Angelino Figliomeni declined to comment on whether he's a fugitive from Mafia prosecutors.
"I have nothing to answer that for," he said in a brief interview.
Italian authorities say another wanted man, Cosimo Triumbari, 56, fled Siderno in 1988, after surviving a shotgun blast to his arm from a local mafioso. The Italians say they have issued warrants against him for extortion, loansharking, money laundering and Mafia conspiracy.
Triumbari deferred questions to his son, saying his English wasn't strong.
Told of the charges, Tony Triumbari said his father isn't hiding anywhere, and can be found daily behind the counter of his family restaurant in an industrial section of Woodbridge.
"I think you've got the wrong information, my friend," Tony Triumbari said, adding that it's odd to think of his father as a fugitive since he hasn't changed his name or gone into hiding.
"He wouldn't be here," Tony Triumbari said, gesturing to his father serving customers in Lanterna Ristorante on Edgeley Blvd. in Concord, which specializes in wood-oven pizza.
Tony Triumbari said his father hasn't been in Italy for 18 years.
Like Cosimo Triumbari, none of the alleged fugitives have tried to conceal their identities.
Some of the men are considered leaders of what Italian prosecutors call "the Siderno group" of Mafia, named for a city in the district of Reggio Calabria, Italy.
Others wanted by Italian prosecutors say they're victims of some bureaucratic mix-up.
Police say the Siderno group has been long involved in international drug and weapons trafficking, kidnapping, counterfeiting and murder.
The Siderno group has been active in the Toronto area for a half-century and all of the fugitives have friends and family in the area.
Five of the men live in York Region and one has settled in Toronto.
Federal authorities in Canada know that the men are wanted by Italian authorities, the Star has learned.
Salvatore Agostino, 38, whom Italian police say is wanted in Italy for large-scale fraud, has no legal status in Canada.
Asked if he has heard of these charges, Agostino, replied, "No, really no."
He deferred other questions to his brother, who declined to identify himself.
"I don't know what you're talking about," Agostino's brother said.
It's illegal in Italy to be a member of the criminal organization known as the Mafia, or to plot crimes with members of the Mafia.
There are no anti-Mafia laws in Canada.
Carlo Figliomeni, 38, of Woodbridge, is also wanted on Mafia-related charges. Italian authorities say he served jail time in Italy for Mafia association and weapons charges.
However, his wife said there must be some kind of mistake.
"He's not hiding from anything," she said. "Immigration knows about the situation.
"Nothing is pending in Italy. Nobody is looking for him in Italy. ... He's innocent."
Another man sought by Italian authorities is Salvatore Coluccio, 39, who is wanted on an Interpol warrant issued from Turin, Italy, for cocaine trafficking charges. He didn't return requests for an interview left at his upscale Richmond Hill home.
Laurentian - September 23, 2006 02:03 PM (GMT)
Laurentian - September 25, 2006 12:49 PM (GMT)
GangstersInc - September 26, 2006 05:36 PM (GMT)
26 October 1969 met about 130 n'dranghisti in Montalto
presided by San Martino di Taurianova boss Giuseppe
Zappia (was in the 50 ties and 60 ties head of the
socalled n'drangheta commission, any one knwos some on
the 50 and 60ties n'drangehta commission???)
Seems police came in and arrested them . Under the
attendants were Antonio and Giuseppe Nirta, Antonino
Macri and Domenico Tripodo (anyone knows more on the
Siderno's Il Gourmet restaurant induction and
murdercase Michele Alberti
21 July 1982 there is a meeting of 27 mobsters at Il
Gourmet restaurant (including nine residnets of the
Toronto area under whom Domenico Racco (brother of
Michele), Cosimo Stalteri and Vincenzo Deleo) and the
Siderno citizens Vincenzo Figliomeni (killed in 1986
or 1988) and Francesco Marzano (think he became
pentito and told this??) It was an induction ceremony
for the canadians into the n'drangheta and after
dinner as a lesson in front opf them was killed
Michele Alberti (suspected of the murder of the
Commisso father in 1949) Anyone know more on the
attendants of the meeting or other news??
Does anyone know something about :
The Commisso brothers from Toronto revenge the attack
at their uncle that same year (1975) when they kill a
whole family of the rival clan in their own house
including the baby in the crib. Anyone would know who
this family would be???????
i never found out
GangstersInc - September 26, 2006 05:45 PM (GMT)
Pup in the book "Deadly Silence" it says there were 23 guests (including Alberti) and no mention of a making ceremony. It says it was a peace making gesture towards Alberti who had been living in Argentina and came back in 1982 because he was told things had calmed down.
From the book:
"Two unmasked men walked onto the restaurant patio, up to Alberti, shot him several times, then strolled away. It was in broad daylight, on a patio facing a street in a suburb of the city, and the table was crowded. However Italian police could not find any witnesses to the murder."
GangstersInc - September 29, 2006 08:36 AM (GMT)
|QUOTE (Laurentian @ Sep 25 2006, 01:49 PM)|
| Mobsters settle in the burbs|
At least 12 underworld fugitives are thought to be living in 905 area
According to reports there are thousands of Sicilian and Calabrian mobsters in the US, yet we don't here a lot about them anymore (since the Pizza Connection.) Why is that?
Laurentian - September 29, 2006 12:51 PM (GMT)
GangstersInc - September 29, 2006 02:43 PM (GMT)
|QUOTE (Laurentian @ Sep 29 2006, 01:51 PM)|
| I find the figure "thousands" of Sicilian and Calabrians fugitives a bit far exagerated in my opinion. At any event, like fugitive mobsters in Canada, those in USA who have succeeded to remain in the shadows, thanks to the complicity and protection of fellow Sicilians and Calabrians residents and to the lack of will of US government agencies (immigration) to track down and deport these illegal alliens. |
Not nessecarily fugitives. I too find the number high and if the number is correct find it weird there has been so little news or arrests. So that number is probably way off. In an interview with this site Joseph Pistone confirmed there were 10.000 Sicilian people connected to/involved with the Mafia in the US. It keeps me wondering.
And do you have an answer for Pup? Regarding his Ndrangheta post (I posted an answer above.)
Laurentian - October 4, 2006 05:06 PM (GMT)
Laurentian - October 4, 2006 05:15 PM (GMT)
Laurentian - October 5, 2006 12:53 PM (GMT)
Hollander - October 11, 2006 11:45 PM (GMT)
Trial date set for elder Rizzuto
Published: Wednesday, October 11, 2006
A Feb. 5 court hearing could determine a trial date on an impaired-driving charge against Nicolo (Nick) Rizzuto - father of Vito Rizzuto, reputed head of the Mafia in Canada.
The elder Rizzuto, 82, also alleged to be a mob kingpin, was arrested Dec. 31 and held for several hours after an accident involving his Mercedes Benz and a fire truck near the corner of Marcel Laurin Blvd. and Poirier St. in St. Laurent.
Through his lawyer Loris Cavaliere, Rizzuto pleaded not guilty to the charge March 2 in Montreal Municipal Court.
Nicolo Rizzuto fled Montreal for Venezuela in 1974 after a contract was reportedly put on his life by Paolo Violi, then head of the Cotroni family.
Violi was killed gangland-style in 1978.
After five years in prison on a cocaine-possession charge in Venezuela, Nicolo Rizzuto was paroled in 1993 and returned to Canada.
Despite a protracted legal battle that went all the way to the Supreme Court of Canada, Vito Rizzuto was arrested in January 2004 and extradited to the U.S. on Aug. 17 to face a racketeering charge in the 1981 murders of three New York mobsters.
He has pleaded not guilty in United States District Court in Brooklyn, N.Y. The next hearing in his case is to take place Oct. 18.
antimafia - October 19, 2006 09:45 PM (GMT)
The Origins of the Rizzutos
In my thread about the murder of the mayor of Cattolica Eraclea, Agrigento (the hometown of the Rizzutos), forum member Felice had mentioned another video link that he was unable to find at the time. I found that link. First go to the address below:http://theblogtv.ilcannocchiale.it/?id_blogdoc=1170749
Then scroll down to the hyperlink that reads "Le origini dei Rizzuto - 2."
If you want the video to open up immediately in Windows Media Player, copy and paste the link below into your browser:http://www.ilcannocchiale.it/multimedia/Co...ideirizzuto.wmv
Please note the video is over 10 minutes long, so loading may cause havoc with your computer.
Laurentian - October 20, 2006 04:35 PM (GMT)
antimafia - October 24, 2006 01:33 PM (GMT)
When the Mob and Hells Angels Are After You
Online article below, from today's Globe and Mail,
can be found at http://www.theglobeandmail.com/servlet/sto...=all&print=true
Note: The persons discussed in this article are described further, after the end of the article.
Background (according to me):
Pietro "Peter" Scarcella was one of the last people known to have seen Toronto mobster Paul Volpe, a captain in the Buffalo Family, alive in 1983. Although Scarcella was in his crew and although Volpe's two brothers were engaged in organized crime after Volpe's murder, Scarcella probably did not remain a member of the Buffalo Family (if he was ever made) since the Volpe crew seemed to implode a few years after Volpe's death. Scarcella appears to have allied himself with Vito Rizzuto in the late 1980s or early 1990s.
The name of Sicilian-born mobster Michele Modica may be familiar to those of you who have followed US heroin and cocaine investigatations in the latter part of the 1980s: He was a major target of those investigations.
The turf war that took place between Scarcella and Modica in Woodbridge (a suburb immediately north of Toronto that constitutes another Little Italy in addition to the two already in the city of Toronto) may never have happened had Rizzuto not been imprisoned in 2004.
Prisoner of conscience
Raffaele Delle Donne couldn't stomach the shooting of Toronto mother Louise Russo, so he gave up some very dangerous men. Now the mob wants to kill him. So do the Hells Angels.
From Tuesday's Globe and Mail
TORONTO — Raffaele Delle Donne is surprisingly relaxed, considering the mob and the Hells Angels want to kill him.
He's sitting at a small table in a motel room with the blinds pulled down, sipping black coffee. A stocky man wearing a baseball cap, polo shirt and designer jeans, he might be a nightclub DJ -- not a gangster, or a police agent. Both of which he was.
In April of 2004, Mr. Delle Donne was a willing participant in an infamous botched mob hit: a Toronto restaurant shooting that paralyzed innocent bystander Louise Russo.
The bullets that shattered Mrs. Russo's life narrowly missed Mr. Delle Donne. That night he turned to police and, in an undercover operation that stretched over a year, betrayed four members of Toronto's most fearsome gangs to win justice for their victim. "I had to make them pay," he says.
He refused to accept government money, or protection, in return.
He has agreed to meet a Globe and Mail reporter at this remote Canadian location, on a sunny morning in early October, after an exchange of messages through an intermediary. Now, as he sits in the shadows of Room 112, his criminal past comes rushing out: most of it street hustles, rather than organized crime. It wasn't until he bought a new house in the wrong neighbourhood -- a quiet street in the predominantly Italian suburb of Woodbridge, where a mob boss happened to live around the corner-- that he was finally drawn into the underworld he had tried to rise above.
"Then the trouble started," he says. "You know, once you get in, you can't get out."
But Mr. Delle Donne did escape, guided by a personal code of ethics that nobody -- not even the mob -- predicted.
He is running for his life now, and has not seen his wife and two sons for more than a year. He shuns his friends and siblings for fear of leading them into crossfire, and so he leads a life of isolation, a 36-year-old man with survival on his mind.
He has surfaced now, he says, for one reason: To tell his family, and the families of the gangsters he betrayed, why he ruined their lives in order to help a stranger.
"I'm a bad person, okay. That's not going to change now because of what I did," he says. "I just did the right thing at the right moment. And that's all I want people to know: Why I did it."
"I don't want no medal for it. I don't want no awards. And I don't want people to think I'm a hero, because heroes are only a few people in this world, and one of them is that lady in the wheelchair."
As a boy, Raffaele Delle Donne raced his moped through the narrow streets of Naples, hawking fake $2 Gucci belts for 25 times their worth in order to buy fuel. Even as a child, shootings and beatings seemed normal sights, he says, in a city where "basically, the government and the cops work for the mob."
In 1980, the year he turned 12, a massive earthquake killed more than 2,500 people and flattened 30,000 homes, including the seventh-floor apartment where he lived with his parents and four siblings. In the winter of 1981, the family landed in Toronto.
In Grade 8, after his parents split, the boy quit school to work in a glass factory. By his late teens, he was making $10,000 every couple of weeks selling fake Armani suits from the trunk of his car. "It's a survival thing. You hustle. Instead of selling drugs, you sell clothes, and you don't get caught," he says.
At the age of 21, he married an Italian-Canadian girl and soon they had two sons. His wife, a primary-school teacher, hated his criminal income. "So I got a job at the post office," he says, and delivered mail in the St. Clair Avenue West area, Toronto's Corso Italia neighbourhood, for 10 years.
But the straight life was an uncomfortable fit. And by the time he was 28, Mr. Delle Donne was snorting an ounce of cocaine every couple of days -- a habit that lasted eight months, but took even longer in rehab to kick.
The Italian community, Mr. Delle Donne says, labelled him a "junkie." He was so angry at the dealer who supplied him that he eventually went to Toronto police and turned informant in order to bring him down. "He got two years -- it was nothing," he says.
Looking for a fresh start, his wife found a newly built, two-storey brick house in Woodbridge. "We're moving up from the city to the suburbs. Supposedly no trouble around," he says. "Little did I know that I move onto the street where the sister of the gangster is there. Behind my house there's a hit man."
Woodbridge, he says, has another name: Little Naples. He kept his distance for two years, refusing dinner invitations from the major mob players. "You're a hustler. You don't live by the laws, so they're going to recruit you. They're going to make it easier to say yes," he says.
In 2002, he cracked, for the same reason so many others do: money.
A mob-affiliated fraudster named Michael Marrese, who had a reputation as the king of mortgage frauds, took Mr. Delle Donne under his wing. Mr. Marrese, who was recently released from jail after serving time for a fraud conviction, used him as a chauffeur, errand boy and scout for potential properties. Helping on his first fraud, he made $2,000, and $50,000 on the second.
(Court documents from March of 2006 say Mr. Marrese "has been, and continues to be involved in fraudulent land and mortgage transactions.")
"It was easy," Mr. Delle Donne says of their work. "I figured we were just doing deals. Paperwork. Nobody gets hurt."
In January of 2004, a turf war erupted in Woodbridge, forcing members of the "family," as Mr. Delle Donne calls it, to divide their loyalties.
In one camp was Peter Scarcella, the blue-eyed father of three who police say is one of Toronto's top mob figures.
Undermining him was Michele Modica, now 51, a Sicilian mobster with a long history of drug-running convictions, who had slithered into Canada illegally a year before.
Mr. Delle Donne's boss, Mr. Marrese, sided with the newcomer.
Hoping to avoid the conflict, Mr. Delle Donne spent a few weeks in Montreal. But soon after returning to Woodbridge, Antonio Borrelli, a childhood friend, asked to meet at a Coffee Time in north Toronto. As they were speaking, a third man sat down at the table: Mr. Borrelli's uncle, Peter Scarcella.
He had a question for Mr. Delle Donne: Will you spy on Mr. Marrese and Mr. Modica?
"He says that you're the only person that's going to help. They trust you. And you're going to bring them out for us," Mr. Delle Donne recalls.
"I didn't like that idea, and I told him, I don't like betraying my friends, because you're going to think one day that I'm going to back-stab you."
"That's when he says: 'Think about your family.' "
Mr. Delle Donne understood. "So I became the inside man. Snitching. Double-playing. Risking my life already," he says.
It lasted two months, until Mr. Modica enraged yet another gang by cheating a couple of Hells Angels out of a $130,000 gambling debt.
Mr. Modica went into hiding, fearing for his life. But the bikers, who were friendly with Mr. Scarcella, knew just the man to flush him out.
At 10 o'clock on the night of April 21, 2004, Mr. Delle Donne pulled open the glass door of California Sandwiches, a North York restaurant, and walked toward the man he'd set up for death.
You're late, Mr. Modica said. Also at the table were Mr. Marrese and two associates.
Outside, hiding in a blue minivan in the dark parking lot, packing four handguns and an automatic rifle, were Mr. Borrelli and bikers Mark Peretz, 36, and Paris Christoforou, 32. Mr. Delle Donne had led them there after setting up a meeting with Mr. Modica.
The plan was for the trio to wait for Mr. Modica to leave in his Ford Escape, trail him to a nearby industrial area, and blast him. At least, Mr. Delle Donne thought so. "I didn't even walk in two minutes and they started shooting," he says.
(Police say the gangsters mistook four Italian men smoking outside the restaurant for Mr. Modica and his three associates.)
With the van cruising slowly past the restaurant, Mr. Borrelli, seated in the back, unleashed a spray of bullets in a wide arc, terrorizing nine people trapped inside.
". . . I saw the lady jump up and then just fall on her face. I thought she was dead," Mr. Delle Donne recalls.
She was Louise Russo, a 45-year-old mother of three, who had been ordering a veal sandwich for her daughter, Krista, 15, who was waiting outside in the car.
Mr. Delle Donne took cover in a nearby storage closet. When the gun blasts stopped he came out, then rushed to Mrs. Russo's side.
"She was saying 'my daughter, my daughter' . . . she was worrying about her daughter," he says. "She kept telling me, I can't move my legs. As soon as she said that, I knew her legs were gone."
Mr. Delle Donne seethed. In his mind, his accomplices had fired without regard for him -- and now this. "No innocent people were supposed to get hurt. That was not supposed to happen," he says.
He vowed revenge. "I wanted to go whack the guy who did it," he says. But he's not a killer, he says.
Before leaving the restaurant, Mr. Delle Donne grabbed a notebook from a police officer. He scribbled down his name, and the name of the police detective who was his handler when he informed on the drug dealer.
"Tell him to call me," he said, then left the scene.
Mr. Delle Donne was a dream for the Toronto police and RCMP officers assigned to Project OTIS: the Russo shooting investigation.
He led them to bullet casings, delivered a gunpowder-laced tracksuit worn by one of the shooters, and took careful notes after every late-night telephone call.
He wore a body pack at all times, goading the gangsters to talk about the shooting at every opportunity. "I was good at it," he says.
Sometimes, he would hold up newspaper articles about Mrs. Russo's months of painful recovery. "Look at what you did!" he would say. For Mr. Borrelli, it worked like a charm. He cried.
To gain Mr. Scarcella's trust, Mr. Delle Donne became one of his debt collectors, using every envelope stuffed with loan payments as an opportunity to chat.
When Mr. Scarcella said he put out a hit on Mr. Modica, who by then had been deported back to Italy on immigration charges, Mr. Delle Donne was there with his body pack. When he said he wanted Mr. Marrese bashed with a two-by-four, the tape was running, too.
As months passed, Mr. Delle Donne secretly raged.
"I had to swallow my pride and keep my head down. I had to wait and be patient," he says. "Eating at the same table as them during the investigations . . . it was the hardest thing to look them in the eyes and pretend that I was okay with it. Because I wasn't. I had the devil inside of me. I wanted to kill them."
On April 14, 2005 -- 11 months after Mr. Delle Donne became an official agent -- police descended on the homes of Mr. Scarcella, Mr. Borrelli and the two bikers and arrested them for the shooting and the ensuing conspiracy (Mr. Scarcella was not charged in the shooting.)
Mr. Delle Donne was cloistered in an Ottawa hotel, waiting to become a star witness for the prosecution.
But in March of 2006, all four men pleaded guilty in a controversial deal that took months for police, prosecutors and defence lawyers to negotiate. Of a maximum 25-year sentence, three of the accused -- Mr. Scarcella and the two bikers -- received 11 years. Mr. Borrelli, the shooter, got 12.
"I'd give them 25," Mr. Delle Donne says.
The deal also paid $2-million to Mrs. Russo -- compensation cobbled together from the gangsters' bank accounts.
Investigators say they couldn't have done it without their agent.
But in the end, there were two areas where Mr. Delle Donne never co-operated. Police offered him up to $500,000 for his work (pay is standard practice for police agents), but he refused, a move so rare that the investigators, who confirmed his refusal to take the money, still marvel over it.
"You don't sell out your friends for money," Mr. Delle Donne says. But more than that, he says he's torn by what happened to Mrs. Russo. "I didn't want anything, because I was just as guilty as them," he says.
He has refused to enter Canada's federal witness protection program. He says no one can protect him better than himself.
After the shooting, his wife left with their sons. He's back to hustling again to make ends meet. His life is worse than any prison sentence, he says, but adds that he has no regrets.
"Yeah, I have to walk away for the rest of my life knowing they're going to come after me," he says, smiling.
"But they've got to find me first."
A married mother of three, she cared full-time for her severely disabled daughter. Paralyzed by a stray bullet at the age of 45, Mrs. Russo has become a spokeswoman for victims' rights.
A Sicilian mobster living in Canada illegally, he triggered a turf war with Toronto mob boss Peter Scarcella, then cheated the Hells Angels out of $130,000. Both wanted him dead.
THE MOB BOSS
PETER (TRUMP) SCARCELLA
This soft-spoken, blue-eyed father of three, who police say ruled a Sicilian mob faction in Toronto, conspired to kill his rival (and former best friend) Mr. Modica in the months following the botched shooting.
Driving the van was a 36-year-old, BlackBerry-toting Hells Angels affiliate who was the brains behind a lucrative on-line gambling scheme. Mr. Modica owed him money.
Police say this married Mississauga roofer and Hells Angels enforcer blasted one shot from the van's passenger seat.
ANTONIO (JELLY) BORRELLI
The 28-year-old married father of one riddled the parking lot with bullets from a Colt automatic rifle.
RAFFAELE DELLE DONNE
The son of an Italian car salesman, he hocked fake Armani suits before getting into mob-tied mortgage scams two years before the shooting.
He transformed, in a mix of guilt and rage, from a low-ranking mobster into a self-described "snitch."
x-man - October 24, 2006 10:10 PM (GMT)
is the italian mafia also active in toronto ?
Nav - October 29, 2006 05:48 AM (GMT)
Writer tells tales of mob
Oct. 26, 2006.
Prosecutor Gianrico Carofiglio isn't sure how many Mafia figures he has helped put behind bars in Italy, but estimates the number is somewhere between 600 and 700.
He shrugs when asked about the extent of Mafia influence in the GTA, in the wake of reports that a dozen Italian Mafia fugitives live in York Region.
"For us, Mafia is when they're the owners of a place, like another government," says Carofiglio. "If they don't have this, they're just organized crime."
Nowadays, Carofiglio, 45, spends more time talking about literature than mobsters, and contemplating praise from critics rather than threats from hitmen.
He speaks tomorrow night at the International Festival of Authors at Harbourfront.
He's in demand now in the literary world, particularly after winning the prestigious Bancarella Prize, whose previous winners include Ernest Hemingway for The Old Man and the Sea and Boris Pasternak for Dr. Zhivago.
His first novel, Involuntary Witness, has been translated into more than a dozen languages, hit the top of Italy's bestseller list, and formed the basis for an Italian TV series.
It's pretty heady stuff for someone who hadn't published a novel until six years ago. His claim to fame until then was as the prosecutor who sent mobsters from the Puglia region like Il Cecato (the Blind Man) and Lo Spassino (the Street Cleaner) behind bars and who helped break up an international ring that sold newborn babies for body parts.
Not surprisingly, Carofiglio's three novels deal with good and evil, and flawed characters with the power to make tough choices. "I believe that we can choose," Carofiglio says. "When you do the right thing without expecting anything, to me that's ethics."
The main character, defence lawyer Guido Guerrieri, has quickly become intensely popular in Europe, especially with female readers. In recently translated A Walk in the Dark, Guido continues to wrestle with his mid-life ennui and sense of isolation as he attempts to do the right thing.
In one interview, Carofiglio suggested he might stop writing about Guido, and he quickly received an angry email from a reader, which had the tone of a threat from a mob boss.
`When you do the right thing without expecting anything, to me that's ethics'
Gianrico Carofiglio, novelist
The reader reminded him of an author who is held captive by a crazed reader in Stephen King's novel Misery.
"This girl said, `Be very careful what you do with Guido. Do you remember `Misery?'"
Carofiglio says he always wanted to be an author, and as he approached his 40th birthday, he felt mounting pressure to write. He found time to write in short bursts, around his job as a prosecutor.
Critics have praised Carofiglio's work for its characterization and atmosphere.
The Times Literary Supplement declared that his "work seems not to be constrained by his profession," and The New Yorker raved that, "he writes crisp, ironical novels that are as much love stories and philosophical treatises as they are legal thrillers."
"For me the plot — the legal thriller, the crime story — is just a tool, so I can keep the reader until the end of the story," he says.
What he really wants is to be able to make readers see things with fresh eyes.
"Proust used to say that the real trick is not seeing new places, but having new eyes. Seeing things from a different point of view."
He says that Canadian author Alice Munro is a master of helping readers see the world with fresh eyes. "Tell Alice Munro that an Italian author thinks she's a great writer," Carofiglio said with a smile. "I find her absolutely fantastic."
As the interview winds down, the conversation shifts back to the Mafia. He notes that Canada has been home to some internationally dangerous Mafia families, including members of the Cuntrera-Caruana clan, some of whom lived in York Region.
Maybe, someday in the future, he'll incorporate the Mafia into his fiction.
"I'm a lucky man because I have a lot of stories to tell," Carofiglio says. "The meaning of life is inside us, in how we tell stories."