Rival groups lining up to replace leaderless Montreal Mafia: experts

MONTREAL — How Montreal’s Italian Mafia reacts to the brazen slaying of the first-born of its jailed leader Vito Rizzuto will reveal whether the once powerful operation is truly in shambles, experts say.

MONTREAL — How Montreal’s Italian Mafia reacts to the brazen slaying of the first-born of its jailed leader Vito Rizzuto will reveal whether the once powerful operation is truly in shambles, experts say.

As homicide detectives continued their probe into the slaying of Nick Rizzuto, 42, in a gritty west-end neighbourhood, the aftermath of an unprecedented and violent message sent to the leadership of the Canada’s most powerful Mafia clan will be telling.

With most of the clan’s top lieutenants behind bars, and Vito Rizzuto himself serving out a prison term in the United States until 2012, there appears to be a takeover attempt by rival groups.

Opinion is divided as to whether it is strictly the work of street gangs trying to take advantage of a destabilized Mafia, or if the gangs are working in tandem with another Mafia family at a time when the ruling clan is at its weakest.

“There is no one accepted by all remaining members of the Mafia, no one that can call the shots,” said Antonio Nicaso, an author and journalist who specializes in the Mafia.

Vito Rizzuto, the reputed head of the Montreal Mafia, is in a medium-security prison in Colorado serving a 10-year sentence for racketeering, relating to three underworld murders in Brooklyn in 1981.

A spokeswoman with the U.S. Federal Bureau of Prisons said Tuesday that Rizzuto could request to attend his son’s funeral.

Spokeswoman Felicia Ponce said the warden at the Colorado facility where he’s housed would have to authorize the request.

“If he’s allowed, he would have to incur the costs associated with it,” Ponce said, adding that such requests are confidential.

Rizzuto, 63, is scheduled to be released on Oct. 6, 2012.

Many of his closest associates were rounded up during the RCMP’s Operation Colisee and are still behind bars. And at least two people with ties to the clan were killed earlier this year.

On Tuesday, Montreal police were still looking for a suspect in the shooting death of Nick Rizzuto.

On several news websites, people claiming to be friends and acquaintances wrote messages of condolence for Nick Rizzuto, a father of two.

“He was involved in investment, he was not a boss or acting boss, but he was the eldest son of Vito, so this is an unprecedented challenge to his authority or his power,” Nicaso said.

The Rizzuto family has been firmly entrenched since taking power in 1978 with Vito Rizzuto acting as a sort of underworld power broker.

“Vito Rizzuto was the mediator who was the architect of the consortium, the strategic alliance between the Hells Angels, the Mafia, street gangs, Colombian cartels and the Irish Mafia when the order of the day was co-operation,” Nicaso said.

But sources say that alliance between street gangs and the Mafia has began to fall apart in recent years, with neither one wanting to work with the other.

Julian Sher, investigative journalist and author of books on the Hells Angels and organized crime, said the loss of charismatic leaders like Hells Angels boss Maurice (Mom) Boucher and Vito Rizzuto can be devastating to criminal organizations.

“That can lead to instability because you don’t have clear leadership patterns, you don’t have people to settle disputes,” Sher said.

“It’s not just the power to command but it’s the star power, the stature, the ability to not only declare war but to negotiate peace.”

In recent weeks, there was a spate of Molotov-cocktail attacks against mostly Italian-style cafes in Montreal, which police said was authored by street gangs.

But one expert said these attacks don’t appear to be the work of street gangs acting on their own, since they tend to operate more recklessly and with less regard for innocent victims.

Bloc Quebecois MP Maria Mourani, an expert on street gangs, said she thinks there could be an alliance between street-gang members and disgruntled Mafiosi.

“It’s just too well organized, almost surgical precision and not impulsive,” Mourani said.

“I think there is a conflict within the Mafia, but that clan is allied with a street gang.”

Just Posted

Several Red Deer businesses’ phone/fax lines taken over by ‘spoofers’

Same ‘prank’ calls were made as happened with RedCliff RCMP

Red Deer apartment project opposed by some neighbours

Two buildings proposed for a site in Normandeau with existing four apartment complexes

Red Deer’s osprey cam celebrities are back

FortisAlberta has webcam set up at nest created as part of avian protection program

Red Deer PCN Women’s Fun Run introduces Community Diaper Dash

Central Albertans will make a dash in diapers to bring lunches to… Continue reading

Cast your votes for the Best of Red Deer

Nominations for the Best of Red Deer Readers’ Choice Awards are officially… Continue reading

Opinion: Schools can’t be exempt from scrutiny

This weekend’s meeting of the Alberta School Councils’ Association promises to be… Continue reading

Bishop now the Stars goalie trying to beat Blues in playoffs

Ben Bishop grew up rooting for the St. Louis Blues before being… Continue reading

Nashville gets its chance to step up for NFL draft

NASHVILLE — Broadway in downtown Nashville is as lively a place as… Continue reading

The Cranberries, still in mourning, return for the last time

NEW YORK — Whether or not there would be a final Cranberries’… Continue reading

Dance studio owner in dispute with Burton Cummings fined for noise ticket

MOOSE JAW, Sask. — The owner of a dance fitness studio who… Continue reading

Gardening: Time and effort key to buying garden plants

Greenhouses, garden centers and box stores are set to start selling bedding… Continue reading

Montreal native Nicholas Latifi off to solid start on Formula 2 race circuit

Practice makes perfect for Canadian Nicholas Latifi. The 23-year-old Montreal auto racer… Continue reading

Most Read