Quebec man convicted in Mafia-linked conspiracy deported to Italy

MONTREAL — Michele Torre, a Quebec man convicted in 1996 for his role in a Mafia-linked conspiracy, finally ran out of options to stay in Canada and boarded a plane Friday night to his native Italy, his lawyer said.

Stephane Handfield said his client — along with an escort of two Canada Border Services agents — boarded an 8 p.m. flight bound for Italy at Montreal-Pierre Elliott Trudeau International Airport.

Canada’s public safety minister intervened at least four times in Torre’s case to stop his deportation, Handfield said. But this time, Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale did not grant Torre’s request. Handfield said he emailed Goodale’s office Friday morning but “received no response” from the minister or his aides.

Torre, 66, was granted permanent residency to Canada in 1967. He was convicted in 1996 in a cocaine-importation conspiracy linked to the Cotroni crime family and served part of a nearly nine-year prison sentence.

In 2006, Torre again found himself swept up by police during a massive operation aimed at dismantling Montreal’s powerful Mafia. He spent nearly three years in custody but was ultimately acquitted. Since 2013, federal authorities have sought to remove Torre for “serious criminality and organized criminality.”

Torre and his family claimed it was unfair to deport him so long after his last conviction, which now dates back 23 years. They argued he should have been allowed to stay on humanitarian grounds since he had lived in Canada so long and his wife, children and grandchildren are here.

He was on the verge of being deported in 2016 before a ministerial reprieve arrived 90 minutes before his flight. He was then given a two-year temporary residence permit. After that expired, the Canada Border Services Agency scheduled a deportation date, this time for Feb. 28, but Goodale’s office intervened again — on the morning of Torre’s scheduled flight — and granted a reprieve.

Handfield said that on March 11 the CBSA gave Torre another deportation date, scheduled for March 22.

The lawyer decried the plan to have his client accompanied by CBSA agents on the flight to Italy, which he said will single him out for interrogation by authorities upon arrival.

“We worry about his arrival. What will be the attitude of the Italian customs officials?” Handfield said.

A spokesman for Goodale’s office said the minister cannot comment on an individual case.

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