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Posted: Nov 3 2010, 11:58 PM
Group: Friend of Ours
Member No.: 13
Joined: 8-April 06
There are plenty of articles in French about the book for those of you who master la langue d'amour.
Book reveals heart of local Mafia
Veteran reporters probe Mob culture
By PAUL CHERRY, Gazette Crime Reporter October 26, 2010
MONTREAL - Vito Rizzuto did not leave quietly.
In August 2006, the reputed head of the Mafia in Montreal opened up to two investigators escorting him in a car to Pierre Elliott Trudeau International Airport, where an airplane was waiting to fly him to New York to face charges in a racketeering case, a new book, Mafia Inc., reveals.
Normally a man of few words, at least publicly, Rizzuto seemed to sense his organization would spiral out of control in his absence after a 30-year reign at the top levels of the city’s underworld.
“Switching from Italian to English as if he were speaking one language, Rizzuto asserted to the two investigators that he was the only person able to maintain a relative peace among the diverse criminal organizations in Montreal, as if he wanted to convince them they were making a serious error in extraditing him to the United States,” authors André Cédilot and André Noël write in the French-language book, an exhaustive examination of Rizzuto’s rise to power and the problems his organization is experiencing.
Rizzuto would end up receiving a 10-year prison sentence after pleading guilty to the racketeering case, which involved the 1981 murders of three mobsters in Brooklyn, N.Y. He is to return to Canada in 2012, but what remains of his organization won’t be the same – and, according to the book, during that car ride in August 2006, Rizzuto seemed to realize this.
He advised the investigators to keep an eye on Montreal street gangs, whose members now appear to be causing the Mafia serious headaches.
The insider’s glance into the trip to the airport is one example of the details Noël, a reporter at La Presse, and Cédilot, who retired from the newspaper this year after 35 years of reporting, use to shed light on the highest levels of the organization.
But during a news conference yesterday to launch Mafia Inc., Cédilot highlighted how the book also examines how the Mob affects everyday life in the city.
“This book is not a crusade against the Mafia. It is the fruit of 35 years of work accumulating information,” Cédilot said. “But it is to open eyes, above all the government’s and the public’s, and say this is what the Mafia is in Montreal.”
Cédilot said the Mafia’s strength in the city comes from an extensive protection racket, referred to as the pizzo, that gets little attention from the police or the media.
“While doing interviews for the book, I was told, and this is a very conservative estimate, there were 600 businesses and merchants that were victims of the protection racket in Montreal,” Cédilot said.
There's a vacuum at the top of Montreal's Mafia
The 2006 extradition of Rizzuto left a hole that has yet to be filled
By HENRY AUBIN, The Gazette November 4, 2010
Aug. 17, 2006, was a watershed day for Montreal's underworld. The Supreme Court of Canada that morning allowed Vito Rizzuto, long the Teflon don of Montreal's Mafia, to be extradited to the U.S. to face trial for the murder of Mafiosi in New York 25 years before.
Within hours, a four-vehicle police convoy was whisking the lanky, 60-year-old Rizzuto from his temporary home, the prison at Ste. Anne des Plaines, to Trudeau airport. An FBI jet was there, waiting to speed him back to the U.S. for trial.
As he sat in the van, the leader of the Sicilian-origin branch of the local Mafia poured out his bitterness to his Montreal police escorts. His absence from Montreal would be bad for the city, he said. The fragile equilibrium that existed among the city's organized-crime groups would be broken. Only he himself, he said, could ensure a relative peace among the groups.
Rizzuto's outburst is one of many insightful anecdotes in a book published last week -Mafia Inc., courageously written by Andre Cedilot and Andre Noel. What the kingpin said has turned out to be no idle boast but an uncannily accurate prophecy.
Many criminal groups - among them the motorcycle gangs, the West End gang, the street gangs, the Cotroniled Calabrian mob -make up Montreal's criminal pyramid. Vito Rizzuto had occupied its summit. His skill was to act as a mediator among groups, convincing them to work in harmony. He'd argue there was enough money out there for everyone.
The large police operation known as Projet Colisee amplified the power void three months after Rizzuto's extradition when it arrested his father, Nicolo, founder of the criminal empire, and some associates. (Nicolo is now 86.)
The void grew further when:
-¦Vito's 42-year-old son, also named Nicolo, was murdered in N.D.G. last December.
-¦ The family's consigliere, Paolo Renda, disappeared in May as the probable victim of a kidnapping.
-¦Agostino Cuntrera, a possible successor to Vito as godfather of the Montreal Mafia, was murdered in June.
In a parallel development, the Hells Angels are also reeling, thanks to police.
As The Gazette's Paul Cherry wrote last spring, never in 30 years has Montreal's underworld seen such a leadership vacuum. It was about three decades ago that the Rizzutos, who hail from Sicily, ordered the killing of the Violi brothers, from Calabria on Italy's mainland, wresting from them control of the local Mafia. Now, it's the Rizzuto group's turn to be too weak to retaliate against predators.
You don't have to look far for the discord that Vito Rizzuto predicted. Yesterday, two pizzerias in Montreal North were firebombed. Last weekend, arsonists also hit two cafe-bars. In the past year, they've torched (or tried to torch) some 20 other enterprises, mostly cafes. Mafia Inc. speculates that Ontariobased Calabrians, together with some young Montreal Sicilians who've parted ways with the Rizzutos, are getting members of street gangs to set the fires in an attempt to take over Rizzuto turf.
The Rizzuto clan has been the biggest branch of the New York Mafia (which prizes this city as a port of entry for drugs). And it enjoys ties with the Mafia in Italy: In a stunning move several years ago, it tried to enter a public-private partnership to build of the world's biggest construction projects, a 3.7-km, $7-billion bridge between Sicily and Italy's mainland. (The project is on the shelf.)
At home, Montreal's Mafia works less spectacularly but more successfully. The French-language book says that about 600 retailers, most of theminSt. Leonard, pay it "pizzo," extortion money. It also reports that an RCMP sergeant testified in Italy this year that many non-Mafia construction companies here must pay their pizzo, too -five per cent of their public-works contracts.
Other tentacles reach into food retailing, real-estate development, coffee distribution, mortgage finance, and, of course, drugs, loansharking, and, construction firms.
The top of the pyramid might be gone but corruption and collusion slither on. They claim many hundreds of millions of taxpayers' dollars (if not billions). Don't expect the police probe, Operation Marteau, to make much of a dent.
No one knows who'll fill the void left by Rizzuto. But coauthor Cedilot, a retired La Presse police reporter, told me it can't be a member of a motorcycle gang or any non-Mafia group. Only a Mafiosi would enjoy an international network that includes politicians and so-called respectable businesspeople.
Who knows, Cedilot suggested, it could even be Vito Rizzuto himself. He could get out of his Colorado cell as early as a year from now.
He'd have some scores to settle.
Posted: Nov 25 2011, 12:49 AM
Group: Friend of Ours
Member No.: 13
Joined: 8-April 06
The book is in english now.
REVIEW: Mafia Inc.: The Long, Bloody Reign of Canada’s Sicilian Clan
Book by André Cédilot and André Noël
by Martin Patriquin on Wednesday, November 9, 2011
As with its actors and professional football players, Canada’s Mafia families were long considered to be little more than farm teams for their many big brothers to the south. Montreal journalists André Cédilot and André Noël turn this notion on its ear to show that, perversely, this country’s organized crime underworld is arguably deeper, darker and more violent than the goings-on in New York’s five boroughs or elsewhere.
Cédilot and Noël, veteran crime reporters for La Presse, spin an exhaustive and compelling read. Much like the mob itself, Mafia Inc.’s narrative tendrils are long and widespread, and converge on an imposing subject: Montreal’s Rizzuto clan. Hailing from Sicily, Nick Rizzuto arrived in Montreal and in short order usurped the Cotroni clan to become patriarch of the country’s most important crime family. His son Vito, who helped cement the deal with bullets pumped into the bodies of rivals, eventually took over.
For whatever reason—luck of the devil, the RCMP’s zealous ineptitude, or what Cédilot and Noël call “Canadian judicial authorities’ incomprehensible indolence” toward the mob—Vito stayed out of jail, and his decades-long reign expanded the family’s influence to New York, Italy and beyond. The book is larded with keen details. For example: who knew that the Lebanese civil war was the reason why Montreal organized crime moved from hashish to cocaine, or that leaders of Quebec’s biker gangs had a childlike adoration of Montreal’s Mafia types?
The genius of Mafia Inc. is its all-important connections between organized crime, legitimate business and government. The chapter on the alleged cozy relationship between former Liberal minister Alfonso Gagliano and the Rizzuto clan (Gagliano denies any Mafia ties) is alone worth the price of admission. And the authors show how the Rizzutos, like any big and violent Mafia clan worth its salt, were crippled much as they started: with hubris and a hail of bullets.