Mafia Inc.: The Long, Bloody Reign of Canada's Sicilian Clan - André Cédilot, André Noël (2011)

CHRONOLOGY

OCTOBER 16, 1828: The chief prosecutor in the province of Agrigento, Sicily, files a report with the Ministry of Justice describing the illicit activities of approximately one hundred criminals. All are related in some way, making the group a forerunner of the modern Sicilian Mafia.

OCTOBER 20, 1925: The Fascist dictator Benito Mussolini, in a bid to rid Italy of the Mafia, appoints Cesare Mori Prefect of Palermo.

1931: Commission established in New York City; Five Families begin to develop.

1945: Nicolò Rizzuto marries into the mob by wedding Libertina Manno, daughter of the local Mafia boss in the town of Cattolica Eraclea, Sicily.

FEBRUARY 21, 1946: Vito Rizzuto is born in Cattolica Eraclea.

1953: The Bonanno crime family of New York City delegates Carmine Galante to Montreal with the mission of organizing the city’s Mafia.

DECEMBER 19, 1953: Leonardo Caruana and Pasquale Cuntrera are charged with a double murder and theft of cattle in Trapani, Sicily. They are freed a month later for lack of evidence. Around the same time, Giuseppe Cuffaro of Montallegro, Sicily, and members of the Cuntrera family from Siculiana, Sicily, immigrate to Montreal.

FEBRUARY 21, 1954: Vito Rizzuto arrives in Canada on his eighth birthday along with his father, Nicolò, aged twenty-nine, his mother Libertina, twenty-seven, and his sister Maria, seven.

OCTOBER 12–16, 1957: Senior members of the Sicilian Mafia meet at the so-called Palermo Summit and restructure their organization. After the fashion of the American Cosa Nostra, they decide to create provincial and regional commissions. The era of large-scale narcotics trafficking and moneylaundering begins.

NOVEMBER 14, 1957: The “Apalachin Summit,” in Upstate New York, is broken up by police. Working closely with their Old World counterparts, North American mafiosi map out new drug trafficking routes. Although no official documents exist to prove it, some have claimed that Montreal was represented at the meeting by Giuseppe Cotroni and Luigi Greco.

1959: Nicolò Rizzuto becomes a Canadian citizen.

JUNE 30, 1963: Seven carabinieri are killed when a car bomb explodes in Ciaculli, Sicily. The Italian government strikes back. Many mafiosi flee, settling in Brazil and Canada, among other countries.

1964: Nicolò Rizzuto’s father-in-law, Antonino Manno, leaves Sicily. The clan chief’s immigration to Montreal is facilitated through a political contact.

SEPTEMBER 27, 1966: Vito Rizzuto becomes a Canadian citizen.

DECEMBER 1969: Influential Sicilian godfather Tommaso Buscetta, exiled in Brazil, makes a brief visit to Montreal.

1971: From their principal base in Venezuela, the Caruana, Cuntrera and Rizzuto families, closely knit by blood and marital ties, set up the organization that, over the next thirty years, will flood North America and Europe with heroin, cocaine and hashish, as well as launder colossal amounts of money. Montreal is their second most important base of operations. Today, the group boasts dozens of partners in North and South America, Sicily, Europe, Canada and even Africa and the Middle East.

JANUARY 29, 1972: Along with his brother-in-law, Paolo Renda, Vito Rizzuto is convicted of setting a fire in a strip mall on Montreal’s South Shore four years earlier. He is sentenced to two years in prison.

MAY 1972: Tension begins to mount between the Calabrian and Sicilian factions of the Montreal Mafia. Mindful of maintaining authority, Calabrian mob boss Paolo Violi criticizes Nicolò Rizzuto for his “lone wolf” behaviour. Mafia leaders in Sicily dispatch Giuseppe Settecasi to Montreal to mediate the conflict.

FALL 1976: After two years of hearings, the Quebec Police Commission on organized crime (known by the French acronym CECO), which investigated the Cotroni clan’s activities, issues its report. Vincenzo “Vic” Cotroni and Paolo Violi are identified as the godfathers of the Montreal Mafia. Nicolò Rizzuto’s name barely rates a mention, much less Vito’s.

JANUARY 21, 1978: Paolo Violi is murdered in the bar that he used to own on Jean-Talon St. in Montreal.

JULY 12, 1979: Carmine Galante is executed in Brooklyn, New York.

NOVEMBER 16, 1980: Vito Rizzuto attends the New York City wedding of powerful Sicilian Mafia leader Giuseppe Bono.

MAY 5, 1981: Deemed by superiors to be plotting rebellion, three captains in the Bonanno Family, Alphonse Indelicato, Dominick Trinchera and Philip Giaccone, are lured to a meeting at a hangout in Brooklyn and murdered.

FEBRUARY 4, 1984: Vito Rizzuto is named in RCMP drug squad investigative files for the first time.

DECEMBER 10, 1986: Vito Rizzuto is acquitted on charges of having driven a vehicle while impaired in Saint-Laurent, Quebec.

DECEMBER 18, 1989: Vito Rizzuto is acquitted of charges of importing thirty-two tonnes of hashish in Sept-Îles, Quebec.

NOVEMBER 8, 1990: In St. John’s, Newfoundland, further drug charges against Vito Rizzuto are dismissed; the case involved a load of sixteen tonnes of hashish.

AUGUST 30, 1994: Operation Compote, a four-year investigation during which the RCMP operated a covert currency exchange in downtown Montreal, wraps up. Vito Rizzuto narrowly avoids arrest in the largest ever police sweep of drug traffickers in Canada.

SEPTEMBER 1, 1994: Two days after the police operation, Vito Rizzuto’s mother is arrested in Switzerland, where she has gone to empty several bank accounts. She remains in custody for six months before returning to Montreal.

JULY 15, 1998: Project Omertà culminates with the arrest of the Caruana brothers, Alfonso, Gerlando and Pasquale, on cocaine trafficking charges. Nicolò Rizzuto’s name is mentioned during the investigation, but he is never charged. An informant, Oreste Pagano, later tells police that Vito Rizzuto earned commissions on cocaine imported from South America by the Caruana–Cuntrera clan.

AUGUST 2001: Vito Rizzuto settles out of court with Revenue Canada; he stood accused of failing to report income of $1.5 million. The terms of the settlement are never made public.

MAY 30, 2002: In Montreal, Vito Rizzuto is again arrested for impaired driving. He is at the wheel of a Jeep Grand Cherokee registered to the company OMG Media Inc., a supplier of advertising-sponsored garbage and recycling bins to the cities of Montreal and Toronto.

SEPTEMBER 24, 2002: Vito Rizzuto is again named in a police investigation, this time as part of a plot to import cocaine, but is not charged with any crime.

JANUARY 20, 2004: At the request of U.S. authorities, Vito Rizzuto is arrested for his role in the 1981 murders of three Bonanno Family captains in Brooklyn, New York. Despite hiring the best lawyers he can afford, he remains in prison pending extradition

JUNE 2004: Returning to Canada under an assumed name after having been deported to his native Spain, Ramón Fernández is arrested, convicted and sentenced to twelve years in prison on charges of conspiracy to commit murder and drug trafficking. A former Montrealer, he was Vito Rizzuto’s representative in Toronto, Ontario.

AUGUST 17, 2006: The Supreme Court of Canada rejects Vito Rizzuto’s final request for an appeal, and he is extradited to the United States.

NOVEMBER 22, 2006: Another key blow is struck against Montreal’s Sicilian clan: Nicolò Rizzuto, the family patriarch, and his principal associates are arrested as part of a sweep capping Operation Colisée, an anti-Mafia probe of unprecedented scope in Canada.

MAY 4, 2007: In a Brooklyn courtroom, Vito Rizzuto admits he “participated” in the 1981 triple slaying ordered by Bonanno Family leaders. In return, he receives a reduced sentence. Allowing for the three years he has spent in preventive custody, he will be due for release in five-and-a-half years. He begins serving his sentence at the Florence Federal Correctional Complex in Colorado.

DECEMBER 28, 2009: Nicolò Rizzuto, Jr., Vito’s son, is murdered in the Montreal neighbourhood of Notre-Dame-de-Grâce.

MAY 20, 2010: Paolo Renda, son-in-law of Nicolò Rizzuto, Sr., and the family’s consigliere, disappears, and is presumed to have been kidnapped.

JUNE 29, 2010: Agostino Cuntrera, a key member of Montreal’s Sicilian Mafia clan, and his bodyguard Liborio Sciascia are murdered in an industrial park in Saint-Léonard, on the Island of Montreal.

NOVEMBER 10, 2010: While dining with family members, eighty-six-year-old Nicolò Rizzuto, Sr., is killed by a single bullet fired by a sniper hidden in the woods behind his home.