Rizzuto crime family
|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||30 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, Musitanio Crime Family|
|Rivals||Siderno Group, Calabrese faction|
The Rizzuto family is a crime syndicate based in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. 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 decina until an internal war broke out and the Rizzutos formed their own organization.
In the 1970s an internal war broke out in the Cotroni crime family between the Sicilian and Calabrian factions. The Sicilian faction was led by Nicolo Rizzuto and the Calabrian faction was led by family boss Vic Cotroni through his right-hand man Paolo Violi. This led to a violent Mafia war in Montreal leading to the deaths of Paolo Violi (who was acting capo and underboss for Vic Cotroni) and others in the late 1970s. The war ended when the Sicilian faction took control over the Montreal underworld with the blessing of the Bonanno crime family. Until recently, the family was considered the strongest crime family in Canada. Their leader was Vito Rizzuto, the son of Nicolo Rizzuto.
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, and spreading the wealth around. He is credited with playing a major role in bringing a truce in the deadly war between the Hells Angels and the Rock Machine in Quebec. 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 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 when the order of the day was co-operation.
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 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, and Francesco Arcadi.
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 is 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. If so, he was unsuccessful and 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. Di Maulo's brother-in-law Raynald Desjardins is currently awaiting trial for 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, Guerrero. 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 on of natural causes on December 23, 2013. Since his release from prison, Rizzuto was on a revenge campaign that the Rizzuto crime family continued after his death. Several members and associates of the Cotroni family have been murdered as a result.
- Humphreys & Lamothe, The Sixth Family, p.308
- Organized Crime in The Canadian Encyclopedia
- A humble beginning, National Post, November 23, 2006
- The man they call the Canadian Godfather, National Post, February 26, 2001
- Reorganized crime, The Globe and Mail, September 26, 2008
- Rizzuto pleads guilty to racketeering charge, National Post, May 4, 2007
- Mob takes a hit, The Montreal Gazette, November 23, 2006
- "Mobster's son slain in street", National Post, December 29, 2009 (accessed December 29, 2009)
- "Who was Nick Rizzuto Jr.?", The Montreal Gazette, December 28, 2009 (accessed December 29, 2009)
- Slaying sends chilling signal, The Montreal Gazette, December 29, 2009
- Slaying hits at heart of Canada's mob, National Post, December 30, 2009
- Kiss of death for Montreal's Rizzuto clan?, The Montreal Gazette, May 22, 2010
- Two slain in St. Leonard shootout, The Montreal Gazette, June 30, 2010
- Major change in Montreal Mafia: Experts, The Montreal Gazette, June 30, 2010
- (French) Nicolo Rizzuto assasiné
- (French) Nicolo Rizzuto assasiné (Radio-Canada)
- Hit 'signals war', National Post, November 9, 2010
- Full-out war for supremacy in Montreal’s underworld, Tandem, January 1, 2011. Retrieved November 25, 2011.
- Billions at stake in Montreal Mafia struggle, Toronto Sun, November 20, 2010. Retrieved November 25, 2011
- Shot down in a ‘sloppy’ hit, another Montreal mobster dies, The Globe and Mail, November 25, 2011. Retrieved November 26, 2011.
- Reputed Montreal mob boss killed, QMI Agency, November 25, 2011
- 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.
- "Moreno Gallo, Ex-Montreal Mafia, Killed In Mexico". The Huffington Post. 12 November 2013. Retrieved 12 November 2013.
- Slotnik, Daniel (December 29, 2013). "“Vito Rizzuto, Reputed Mafia Boss of Canada, Dies at 67". The New York Times. Retrieved June 14, 2014.
- Lamothe, Lee and Adrian Humphreys (2008). The Sixth Family: The Collapse of the New York Mafia and the Rise of Vito Rizzuto, Toronto: John Wiley & Sons Canada Ltd., ISBN 0-470-15445-4 (revised edition)
- Rizzuto, l'ascension et la chute d'un parrain