Rizzuto crime family
|Founded by||Nicolo Rizzuto|
|Founding location||Montreal, Quebec, Canada|
|Territory||Greater Montreal and the province of Québec and Ontario; Venezuela, Sicily Saudi Arabia, Cuba, UAE, England, Switzerland, Bahamas, Haiti, Mexico|
|Membership (est.)||20 made members, 500 associates|
|Criminal activities||Drug trafficking, gambling, murder, loan sharking, extortion, racketeering|
|Allies||Bonanno crime family, Cuntrera-Caruana Mafia clan, West End Gang, Hells Angels, Musitano crime family|
|Rivals||Siderno Group, Cotroni crime family, Commisso 'ndrina|
The Rizzuto family is an Italian-Canadian crime family based in Montreal, Quebec. The family territory covers most of southern Quebec and Ontario. The FBI considers the family to be connected to the Bonanno crime family, but Canadian law enforcement considers it to be a separate crime family. The Rizzuto family was part of the powerful Montreal Cotroni crime family until an internal war broke out and the Rizzutos formed their own organization.
In the 1970s an internal war broke out in the Cotroni family between the Sicilian and Calabrian factions. 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. Domenico Manno, Antonio Manno's son, was also instrumental in Violi's murder. Manno received a seven-year sentence after pleading guilty to conspiring to kill Violi, as well as Rizzuto confident Agostino Cuntrera, who received a five-year sentence.
Vito Rizzuto's leadership
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.
Later events and power vacuum
After consolidation of their power in the 1990s, the Rizzutos became over-exposed and over-extended. Vito Rizzuto was arrested in January 2004 for his involvement in the 1981 gangland killings of three rival Bonanno crime family captains (Alphonse Indelicato, Philip Giaccone and Dominick Trinchera) and was sentenced to ten years in prison in May 2007. In November 2006 the senior leadership of the criminal organization was hit by a police operation, dubbed Project Colisee. Among the 90 people arrested were Nicolo Rizzuto, father of Vito Rizzuto, Paolo Renda, Vito Rizzuto's brother-in-law, Rocco Sollecito, and Francesco Arcadi.
On August 21, 2009, family associate, Federico del Peschio was killed behind La Cantina restaurant in Ahuntsic. 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. 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. Since the slaying of Vito Rizzuto's son, the organisation suffered other major setbacks. Paolo Renda, Vito's brother-in-law disappeared on May 20, 2010. 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. After three decades of relative stability, the face of the city's Mafia hierarchy was subject to a major management shuffle. On November 10, 2010, Nicolo Rizzuto was killed at his residence in the Cartierville borough of Montreal with a single bullet from a sniper's rifle punched through two layers of glass in the rear patio doors of his Montreal mansion.
Calabrese mobsters led by the old Cotroni family are among the suspects for the murders of Rizzuto crime family members. 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. It is unknown if the New York City families, historically aligned with the Rizzutos, are supporting or against the new leadership. 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; however, he was murdered in November 2011. Vito Rizzuto was released on October 6, 2012. On November 4, 2012, Rizzuto family associate Joseph Di Maulo was executed outside his Montreal home. In December 2016, Di Maulo's brother-in-law Raynald Desjardins received a total 14-year prison sentence for connection to the murder of Salvatore Montagna.
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. Though he was not as well known as other mobsters of the Rizzuto crime family, Gallo was nonetheless influential among the Montreal mafia rings. 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.
Vito Rizzuto died of natural causes on December 23, 2013. After his release from prison, Rizzuto had been on a revenge campaign which the Rizzuto crime family continued after his death. Several members and associates of the Cotroni family have been murdered as a result.
In November 2015, Vito Rizzuto's son, Leonardo Rizzuto, along with the son of Rocco Sollecito, Stefano Sollecito, 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." As part of the same operation, the police charged Maurice Boucher with ordering Desjardins to be killed from his prison cell.
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.
In popular culture
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 City in 2017.
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- Rizzuto, l'ascension et la chute d'un parrain