Rizzuto crime family

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Rizzuto crime family
Founded byNicolo Rizzuto
Founding locationMontreal, Quebec, Canada
Years active1970s–present
TerritoryGreater Montreal and the province of Quebec and Ontario; Venezuela; Sicily
EthnicityPeople of Italian descent as "made men", and other ethnicities as "associates"
Criminal activitiesDrug trafficking, gambling, murder, loan sharking, extortion, racketeering
AlliesBonanno crime family
Cuntrera-Caruana Mafia clan
West End Gang
Hells Angels
Musitano crime family
RivalsSiderno Group
Cotroni crime family
Commisso 'ndrina

The Rizzuto crime family (Italian: [ritˈtsuːto]) is an organized crime family based in Montreal, Quebec. The family territory covers most of southern Quebec and Ontario.[1] The FBI considers the family to be connected to the Bonanno crime family,[1] but Canadian law enforcement considers it to be a separate crime family. It is sometimes referred to as the Sixth Family.[2]

The Rizzuto family was founded by Nicolo Rizzuto, a Sicilian immigrant, in the 1970s as part of the Sicilian faction of the Montreal Cotroni crime family. An internal war broke out by the late 1970s which resulted in the death of acting captain Paolo Violi and his brothers, allowing the Rizzutos to overtake the Cotronis as the preeminent crime family in Montreal. The indictment of Vito Rizzuto, son of Nicolo, in 2004, and subsequent imprisonment in 2007 until 2012 for murders he participated in 1981, caused a power struggle in organized crime in Montreal. During Vito's imprisonment, his son, Nicolo Jr. was killed in 2009, followed by his father by a sniper rife while in his home in 2010. Upon Vito's release, several people were killed in what was suspected to be retaliation for the hits on his family. Vito died of natural causes shortly after in 2013, and the head of the Montreal Mafia is now assumed to be his son Leonardo.[3]


Nicolo Rizzuto married into the mob by marrying Libertina Manno during the early 1940s, the daughter of Antonio Manno, a local Mafia leader in Italy.[4] Rizzuto immigrated with his family to Montreal in 1954.[5]

In the 1970s an internal war broke out in the Cotroni family between the Sicilian and Calabrian factions.[6] The Sicilian faction was led by Nicolo Rizzuto and the Calabrian faction was led by family boss Vincenzo Cotroni through his right-hand man Paolo Violi. This led to a violent Mafia war of power struggle in Montreal leading to the deaths of Violi (who was acting capo and underboss for Cotroni) and his brothers, along with others, spanning the mid 1970s to the early 1980s until the war ceased.[7] Domenico Manno, Antonio Manno's son, was also instrumental in Violi's murder.[8] Manno received a seven-year sentence after pleading guilty to conspiring to kill Violi,[8] as well as Rizzuto confidant Agostino Cuntrera, who received a five-year sentence in relation to Violi's murder.[9]

Vito Rizzuto's leadership[edit]

Vito Rizzuto's style of business was a striking contrast to flamboyant American mobsters like John Gotti. He remained at the top of Canada's criminal underworld by keeping a low profile, working only with trusted people close to the family. The Rizzutos worked with both Sicilian Mafia and Calabrian ‘Ndrangheta families, the Cuntrera-Caruana Mafia clan (which branched out from Sicily to Canada and South America), Colombian and Venezuelan drug cartels, and the five Mafia families of New York, in particular the Bonannos and Gambinos. Rizzuto was the mediator who oversaw the peace with the Hells Angels, the Mafia, street gangs, Colombian cartels and the Irish mobs such as the West End Gang.[10][11]

Later events and power vacuum[edit]

After consolidation of their power in the 1990s, the Rizzutos became over-exposed and over-extended. Vito Rizzuto was arrested on January 20, 2004 for his involvement in the May 5, 1981 gangland killings of three rival Bonanno crime family captains (Alphonse Indelicato, Philip Giaccone and Dominick Trinchera) and was sentenced to a 10-year prison sentence on May 4, 2007.[12] In 2005, a 300 kilogram shipment of a total 1,300 kilograms of cocaine, co-organized by Rizzuto family confidant, Francesco Del Balso and West End Gang member, Richard Griffin, was intercepted in Boucherville, Quebec by police. After Griffin invested $1.5 million in the purchase and transportation of the cocaine, he demanded $350,000 from the Rizzutos for not taking preventative measures in transporting the drugs. After arguments about the debts, Griffin was riddled with gunfire outside his home in Notre-Dame-de-Grâce on July 12, 2006.[13] On November 22, 2006, the senior leadership of the criminal organization was hit by the largest RCMP operation in Canadian history, named Project Colisée, lasting four years; the RCMP had fitted the Rizzutos' headquarters, the Consenza Social Club, with microphones and cameras to amass sufficient evidence against the organization.[14] Among the 90 people arrested were Nicolo Rizzuto, father of Vito Rizzuto, Paolo Renda, Vito Rizzuto's brother-in-law, Rocco Sollecito, Francesco Arcadi, Lorenzo Giordano and Francesco Del Balso.[15][14]

On August 21, 2009, family associate, Federico del Peschio was killed behind La Cantina restaurant in Ahuntsic.[16] On December 28, 2009, Nick Rizzuto Jr., son of Vito Rizzuto, was shot and killed near his car in Notre-Dame-de-Grâce, a borough in Montreal.[17][18] The killing of Nick Jr. – the face of the organization on the street – illustrated the power vacuum within the upper ranks of Montreal organized crime.[19][20] Since the slaying of Vito Rizzuto's son, the organization suffered other major setbacks. Paolo Renda disappeared on May 20, 2010.[21] A month later Agostino Cuntrera, the presumed acting boss who is believed to have taken control of the family, was killed together with his bodyguard on June 30, 2010.[22] After three decades of relative stability, the face of the city's Mafia hierarchy was subject to a major management shuffle.[22][23] On November 10, 2010, Nicolo Rizzuto was killed at his residence in the Cartierville borough of Montreal when a single bullet from a sniper's rifle punched through double-paned glass of the rear patio doors of his mansion; he was 86.[24] His death is believed to be the final blow against the Rizzuto crime family.[25][26]

Calabrese mobsters led by the old Cotroni family were among the suspects for the murders of Rizzuto crime family members.[27] The Rizzutos have dominated organized crime activities in Montreal since its inception and now their weakened organization is being challenged for control of rackets in the area, most notably the drug trade.[28] Salvatore Montagna, the acting boss of the Bonanno family until his deportation to Canada in 2009, was believed to be attempting to reorganize both families under his control;[29] however, he was murdered in November 2011.[30] Vito Rizzuto was released on October 5, 2012.[31] On November 5, 2012, Rizzuto family associate Joseph Di Maulo was executed outside his Montreal home.[32] In December 2016, Di Maulo's brother-in-law Raynald Desjardins received a 14-year prison sentence, including time served, for connection to the murder of Salvatore Montagna.[33]

On November 11, 2013, Moreno Gallo, a once-influential member of the crime family, was killed by a gunman inside an Italian restaurant in the Mexican city of Acapulco. He had lived in Canada throughout the 1950s but was deported in January 2013 after the Canadian government formally accused him of murder and organized crime charges.[34]

Vito Rizzuto died of natural causes on December 23, 2013.[35] After his release from prison, Rizzuto had been on a revenge campaign which the Rizzuto crime family continued after his death.[36] Several members and associates of the Cotroni family were murdered as a result.[37]

Daniele Ranieri was believed by police to take over Rizzuto's Greater Toronto Area operations after the April 2013 murder of Juan Ramon Fernandez;. Ranieri was later found dead in Mexico, in March 2018.[38]

In November 2015, Vito Rizzuto's son, Leonardo Rizzuto, along with Rocco Sollecito's son, Stefano Sollecito, believed to be the heads of the Mafia in Montreal, were arrested along with more than 40 other people, and were charged with taking part in a conspiracy to traffic in drugs between January 1, 2013 and November 16, 2015. They were also charged with committing a crime "for the benefit of, at the direction of, or in association with, a criminal organization."[39][40] As part of the same operation, the police charged Maurice Boucher with ordering the failed assassination plot on Desjardins from his prison cell.[41]

On March 1, 2016, Rizzuto confidant, Lorenzo Giordano, was shot to death in a Chomedey, Quebec parking lot.[42] Rocco Sollecito was shot to death in the morning on 27 May 2016 in Laval, Quebec, while driving a white BMW SUV. Sollecito was an underboss of the family and his death was believed to be part of a dismantling of the older generation of the family.[43]

On February 19, 2018, Leonardo Rizzuto and Stefano Sollecito were released from prison since their November 2015 arrest, and acquitted of charges of gangsterism and conspiracy to traffic cocaine. The wiretap evidence that was gathered by a joint police task force in 2015 was excluded as a violation of the constitutional right to solicitor-client privilege.[44]

In popular culture[edit]

Writers Antonio Nicaso and Peter Edwards published Business or Blood, a history of the family, in 2015. The book was adapted into the television drama series Bad Blood, which debuted on Citytv in 2017.[45]


  1. ^ a b Humphreys & Lamothe, The Sixth Family, p.308
  2. ^ Lamothe, Lee and Adrian Humphreys (2008). The Sixth Family: The Collapse of the New York Mafia and the Rise of Vito Rizzuto (Revised ed.). Toronto: John Wiley & Sons Canada Ltd. ISBN 0-470-15445-4.CS1 maint: Uses authors parameter (link)
  3. ^ "Rizzuto, l'ascension et la chute d'un parrain". editionaucarre.com.
  4. ^ GYULAI, LINDA. "What becomes of Rizzuto women?".
  5. ^ Lamothe & Humphreys, The Sixth Family (2nd edition), p. 10
  6. ^ Champlain, Pierre De. "Organized Crime".
  7. ^ "The man they call the Canadian Godfather". National Post. February 26, 2001. Retrieved 19 May 2017.
  8. ^ a b "'Don Corleone' figure who helped install Rizzuto family to top of Canadian Mafia released from U.S. prison". December 13, 2012.
  9. ^ "Montreal mobster's death marks a reckoning for the Rizzutos". theglobeandmail.com. 30 June 2010.
  10. ^ The man they call the Canadian Godfather, National Post, February 26, 2001
  11. ^ Reorganized crime, The Globe and Mail, September 26, 2008
  12. ^ "Rizzuto pleads guilty to racketeering charge". National Post. May 4, 2007.
  13. ^ "Key members of Montreal Mafia plead guilty in drugs, extortion case". The Globe and Mail. 18 September 2008.
  14. ^ a b Cédilot, André & and Noël, André. Mafia Inc.: The Long, Bloody Reign of Canada's Sicilian Clan. Les Éditions de l'Homme.CS1 maint: Uses authors parameter (link) Chapter 16.
  15. ^ "Mob takes a hit". The Montreal Gazette. November 23, 2006. Archived from the original on March 23, 2008.
  16. ^ "Man killed in Ahuntsic linked to organized crime". CTV News. Canada. 21 August 2009.
  17. ^ "Mobster's son slain in street". National Post. December 29, 2009. Archived from the original on January 2, 2010.
  18. ^ "Who was Nick Rizzuto Jr.?". The Montreal Gazette. December 28, 2009.
  19. ^ Slaying sends chilling signal, The Montreal Gazette, December 29, 2009
  20. ^ Slaying hits at heart of Canada's mob, National Post, December 30, 2009
  21. ^ Kiss of death for Montreal's Rizzuto clan?, The Montreal Gazette, May 22, 2010
  22. ^ a b Two slain in St. Leonard shootout Archived July 6, 2010, at the Wayback Machine, The Montreal Gazette, June 30, 2010
  23. ^ Major change in Montreal Mafia: Experts Archived July 4, 2010, at the Wayback Machine, The Montreal Gazette, June 30, 2010
  24. ^ "Man who might have murdered Nicolo Rizzuto shot dead in Toronto". ctvnews.ca. 13 July 2013.
  25. ^ Hit 'signals war', National Post, November 9, 2010
  26. ^ ICI.Radio-Canada.ca, Zone Aucun thème sélectionné -. "Vaste enquête pour retrouver l'assassin de Nicolo Rizzuto". Radio-Canada.ca.
  27. ^ Full-out war for supremacy in Montreal’s underworld, Tandem, January 1, 2011. Retrieved November 25, 2011.
  28. ^ Billions at stake in Montreal Mafia struggle, Toronto Sun, November 20, 2010. Retrieved November 25, 2011
  29. ^ Shot down in a ‘sloppy’ hit, another Montreal mobster dies, The Globe and Mail, November 25, 2011. Retrieved November 26, 2011.
  30. ^ Reputed Montreal mob boss killed, QMI Agency, November 25, 2011
  31. ^ "Former Mob boss Rizzuto arrives in Toronto". October 5, 2012.
  32. ^ Banerjee, Sidhartha (November 5, 2012). "Reputed Montreal crime boss Joseph Di Maulo killed in his driveway north of the city". National Post. Retrieved November 6, 2012.
  33. ^ "Quebec mobster Raynald Desjardins gets 14 years in killing of rival". theglobeandmail.com. 19 December 2016. Retrieved 27 May 2017.
  34. ^ "Moreno Gallo, Ex-Montreal Mafia, Killed In Mexico". The Huffington Post. 12 November 2013. Retrieved 12 November 2013.
  35. ^ Slotnik, Daniel (December 29, 2013). "Vito Rizzuto, Reputed Mafia Boss of Canada, Dies at 67". The New York Times. Retrieved June 14, 2014.
  36. ^ "Rizzuto revenge suspected in murder of GTA mobster Carmine Verduci in Woodbridge". thestar.com. April 25, 2014.
  37. ^ "Striking fear in the heart of Ontario's Mob". Toronto Sun.
  38. ^ "Murdered in Mexico: Fourth mobster wanted in Musitano hit is dead, say RCMP". thespec.com. 21 September 2018.
  39. ^ "Montreal Mafia: Judge denies bail for Leonardo Rizzuto, grants it for Sollecito". montrealgazette.com. 15 June 2016.
  40. ^ "Major figure in Montreal Mafia gunned down". The Globe and Mail. 2016-05-27. Retrieved 2016-05-27.
  41. ^ Obendrauf, Pierre (20 November 2015). "A who's who of the Montreal underworld: The Mafiosi, bikers and gangsters swept up in police raids". The National Post. Retrieved 2016-11-30.
  42. ^ "Rizzuto 'underboss' shot dead in Laval". cbc.ca. 1 March 2016.
  43. ^ "Rocco Sollecito's shooting part of 'final cleanup' of Montreal Mafia's old guard". May 27, 2016.
  44. ^ "Mob-linked Leonardo Rizzuto to answer to weapons, drug charges in March". montrealgazette. 23 February 2018.
  45. ^ "Montreal Mafia TV series coming to a screen near you in fall 2017". Montreal Gazette. January 12, 2017.