Tag: Canadian Mafia
A rogues’-gallery alliance among the Canadian Mafia, outlaw bikers and a Mexican drug cartel supplied New York City with nearly a billion dollars in marijuana until the feds crashed the party, according to authorities and new court documents.
And what a party it was.
French Canadian drug kingpin Jimmy “Cosmo” Cournoyer made enough dough for a jet-set lifestyle, complete with a stunning model girlfriend and parties that drew unwitting stars, including Leonardo DiCaprio, sources told The Post.
A five-year probe by the DEA and police from Laval, Quebec, where Cournoyer once lived, revealed that his network allegedly specialized in growing and distributing potent hydroponic marijuana cultivated in British Columbia.
Cournoyer, now awaiting trial in Brooklyn federal court, organized the “vast international drug-trafficking enterprise that has been in existence for more than a decade,’’ prosecutor Steven Tiscione wrote in recent court papers.
“The illegal narcotics distributed worldwide by members of the criminal enterprise have a retail value of more than $1 billion, conservatively,” Tiscione wrote to a federal judge.
Until his recent bust, Cournoyer, 33, tried to stay one step ahead of the law in Quebec by garaging his astronomically expensive Bugatti Veyron and instead tooling around town in a Porsche Cayenne to throw off Canadian police surveillance teams, sources said.
The Porsche belonged to the slick drug lord’s catwalk gal pal, Amelia Racine, a willowy Canadian-Brazilian brunette who has modeled in Europe, sources said.
Her jailed brother, Mario Racine, was allegedly the gang’s trusted lieutenant. He is now awaiting extradition to stand trial along with Cournoyer in Brooklyn, officials said.
One of Cournoyer’s biggest customers in New York City was reputed Bonanno crime-family associate John “Big Man” Venizelos, who is currently out on bail in the case, according to sources and the documents.
Looking less like an alleged mobster and more like a day trader with his Ralph Lauren pastels, nautical-flag belts, Polo loafers and horn-rimmed glasses, Venizelos keeps a downtown Manhattan pad and holds a “straight job” managing “Jaguars 3,”a Brooklyn nightspot, sources said.The club is overseen by Vincent “Vinny Green” Faraci, a reputed Bonanno soldier who formerly managed the “Crazy Horse Too” strip club in Las Vegas, the sources added.
Cournoyer was nabbed last spring after stepping off a jet in Mexico as a wanted man.
At the time, he refused to board a US-bound commercial plane to the States, throwing a series of tantrums right out of the Robert De Niro comedy “Midnight Run,” in which the main character fakes a panic attack.
Cornoyer’s antics forced a total of four plane changes over two days before he was eventually flown to New York City to await trial.
The pot supply under his domain was transported in motor homes and trucks across Canada with the help of the Hells Angels, officials said. The motorcycle gang and the Montreal mob then smuggled the pot from Quebec into upstate New York, authorities said. Trucks delivered it to a warehouse in Brooklyn, sources said.
Millions of dollars generated by the marijuana sales were eventually used to buy cocaine from Joaquin Guzmán Loera, the leader of the notorious Sinaloa drug cartel — with the sale of the coke further financing the marijuana operation in Canada, feds say.
That coke was smuggled north into Canada where it was resold — with part of the profits underwriting the massive marijuana pipeline supplying New York City, according to sources and court documents.The enterprise relied on blood relations: Luc Cournoyer, Jimmy’s cousin, is now serving time after he was caught driving a motor home filled with pot, officials and sources said. Jimmy’s brother, Joey Cournoyer — seen in a Facebook photo partying with the unwitting DiCaprio in a bar in Europe — was a crew member who has not been charged yet, although the probe is ongoing, sources said. Also in the photo was Jimmy’s close pal, Ultimate Fighting world champ Georges St-Pierre.
Jimmy Cournoyer’s lawyer, Gerald McMahon, promises a vigorous court battle. Venizelos’ lawyer, John Meringolo insisted that $100,000-plus found in his house by DEA agents isn’t drug cash.
‘Don Corleone’ figure who helped install Rizzuto family to top of Canadian Mafia released from U.S. prisonDomenico Manno, the uncle of Mafia boss Vito Rizzuto, was released from a U.S. prison Thursday and returned to his former city of Montreal, where the elderly mobster will be reunited in grief, and unease, with a family under attack.
Mr. Manno, 79, was instrumental in propelling the Rizzuto clan to the top of Canada’s underworld in 1978, when he helped in the slaying of Paolo Violi, the reigning Mafia chieftain at the time.
That dramatic murder in a Montreal ice cream parlour signalled the changing of the guard for organized crime, from the Calabrian-led Mafia faction to a Sicilian-led faction led by Nicolo Rizzuto, Vito Rizzuto’s father.
“Domenico Manno was turned over to the custody of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement [Thursday] morning,” said Ross Feinstein, a Department of Homeland Security spokesman, on Thursday. Officials “successfully removed Domenico Manno to Montreal, Canada, this afternoon.”
Mr. Manno, who was serving his sentence at Fort Dix correctional institution in New Jersey, was charged in the U.S. in 1994 for a drug trafficking conspiracy that brought heroin and cocaine from South America into Canada through the U.S. After an extradition battle, he pleaded guilty in 1998.
His own lawyer, at the time, referred to him as the “Don Corleone” figure in the conspiracy, a reference to the Mafia boss in The Godfather movie.
“Manno is acting throughout this whole conspiracy, and there’s a guy named Rizzuto who’s on top of Manno,” court was told.As part of his plea agreement, Mr. Manno agreed to forfeit $250,000. He later complained that he never planned to pay the fine because he expected to be transferred to Canada for his sentence. When a transfer never came, he appealed to have the fine reduced, claiming he was broke. His appeal was denied.
He has since quietly done his time.
Previously, Mr. Manno had received a seven-year sentence after pleading guilty to conspiring to kill Paolo Violi, a defining event in mob history.
Mr. Manno was born into Mafia royalty in Cattolica Eraclea, the same village in Sicily where the Rizzuto family came from; he is the son of Antonino Manno, who was the recognized Mafia boss of a large area of Sicily’s southwest.
The Manno and Rizzuto families have been entwined for generations. Mr. Manno’s sister, Libertina, married Nicolo Rizzuto. Vito Rizzuto’s sister, Maria, later married Mr. Manno’s cousin, Paolo Renda.
Mr. Manno first tried to emigrate from Italy to the United States, arriving in New York in 1951 but was expelled, according to U.S. immigration files. He later came to Canada, settling in Montreal.
Stocky, strong and steeped in the Mafia tradition, he was a mainstay of the Sicilian mob faction as it fought to establish a strong presence in Montreal. Police long considered him a key player in underworld intrigue.
Despite being the son of the old Mafia boss in Sicily, and being older than Vito Rizzuto, he appeared to graciously accept being passed over for the top leadership position, when it was handed from Nicolo to Vito.
In October, Vito Rizzuto was released from a U.S. prison where he had served a sentence for a gangland triple murder. In Mr. Rizzuto’s absence, the family had been under unprecedented attack.
Nicolo Rizzuto was shot dead in 2010, the same year Paolo Renda was kidnapped and, then, presumed dead. Also killed have been Vito Rizzuto’s eldest son, Nick, and others close to Mr. Rizzuto.
What happens to Mr. Manno in Canada remains in question.
Although he was a longtime resident of Canada, he never became a Canadian citizen, according to U.S. court documents.
“Manno is not a Canadian citizen, but rather merely a “landed resident,’” a government memo entered into court says.
Further, he could well become entangled in the continuing underworld power struggle in Montreal, suggested Pierre de Champlain, a former RCMP intelligence analyst and author of books on organized crime.
Mr. Manno might well be fearful: He had plotted the Violi murder alongside Agostino Cuntrera, who in 2010 was shot down in broad Montreal daylight. Although no charges have been laid, police believe the attacks on Mr. Renda, Mr. Cuntrera and Nicolo Rizzuto were cold revenge for the Violi slaying.
“Will Domenico Manno suffer the same fate?” asked Mr. de Champlain.
The Long, Bloody Reign of Canada’s Sicilian Clan
By Andre Cedilot and Andre Noel,
Translated from the French by
Random House, 533 pages, $33
Thugs and buffoons they may be, but Canadian Mafia members and their associates exert unexpected influence in the nation’s social, economic and political matters, this frightening book asserts.
Decades of undercover police work in Quebec and Ontario have sent many leading mobsters to jail, particularly in a big roundup in 2006. Their volatile comrades have dispatched many others to the grave.
But this detailed and convincing volume demonstrates that gangsters from traditional Italian crime families still have their hands on many daily activities, some of them legal, more of them illegal.
Quebec journalists Andre Cedilot and Andre Noel outline the blood-soaked history of the Mafia from its origins in early 19th century Sicily.
Mafia Inc. was a hit (the good kind) in Quebec when it was published in French a year ago.
It focuses on the Rizzuto family and its associates the Caruanas and the Cuntreras. This edition updates the action to include the 2010 slaying of Nicolo Rizzuto Sr., 86, shot while dining at home with his family.
The fluid and idiomatic English translation by Michael Gilson propels the story through the web of family and criminal connections that the authors admit is dizzying.
The book is careful not to tar all Canadians of Italian origin with the Mafia brush, but it does not shrink from calling out the guilty minority.
These folks may not be household names in most of Canada, but they should be.
Not only have they run gambling and prostitution and imported stupefying amounts of illegal drugs into Canada, but they have extended their influence to elected civic and provincial governments, and to Liberal and Conservative federal governments through bribery and other “illustrious relations.”
Although Mafia Inc. clearly sides with the police against the bad guys and also sometimes against their foot-dragging political masters, it is refreshingly free of the cop-talk that deadens many true-crime books.
The book quotes extensively from court documents and, chillingly, from wiretaps of the Mafiosi themselves.
The writing is frequently spirited.
When mobster Paolo Violi declines to accept his boss’s advice to step aside, the authors comment, “His hubris and sense of Mafia honour apparently trumped his will to live.”
Describing one of the many goodfellas who sport Damon Runyon-style monikers, they write, “The ‘Discount Coffin Guy’ was built like a linebacker but had scarcely more judgment than a teenager, and working closely with the powerful Montreal godfather gave him a sense of impunity.”
To guide readers the book includes not only an index but a chronology, glossary and bibliography.
Four pages of Mafia family trees include such notations as “is the cousin and became the son-in-law of …” and “married to his cousin.”
The authors’ acknowledgements section thanks colleagues at the Montreal newspaper La Presse and contains a curious statement: “We trust that none of them will be too taken aback when they notice the many passages in the book that are directly inspired by their writings.”
Bearing out the book’s assertions of Mafia influence, the Quebec government has just launched a public inquiry into corrupt practices in the construction industry and the awarding of public contracts.
As if to corroborate the authors’ accusation that Canadian authorities have displayed “incomprehensible indolence” toward the true nature of the Mafia, Premier Jean Charest resisted granting this commission subpoena powers until public protests shamed him into doing so.
Mafia Inc. should be the first exhibit at this inquiry.
Shares of Infinex Ventures Inc., a U.S.-based mining company, were manipulated by Italians working for an organized-crime family, netting them 15 million euros ($21 million), Milan’s financial police said.
The stock was manipulated in U.S. trading from 2004 to 2008, according to an e-mail distributed today by the financial police, which conducted the investigation. The shares are also traded in Germany.
While none of the 18 Italians in the probe are facing charges for involvement in organized crime, the Infinex shareholders who benefitted from the fraud were members of the Canadian Mafia clan allegedly led by Vito Rizzuto, police said. The suspects were probed for conspiracy to manipulate the market and insider trading. Police said the case is related to a 2007 investigation in which two brothers were identified as suspected members of the Rizzuto clan.
Rizzuto, referred to by Canadian police as the “godfather” of the Montreal Mafia, is currently in prison in the U.S., and he may face extradition to Italy to face charges, the Milan financial police said.
Michael De Rosa, Infinex’s president and controlling shareholder, said his company has no connection to the Mafia, and he has paid a high price for agreeing to explore a property owned by the brothers.
‘I’m Not Mafia’
Now he has trouble attracting investors and board members to the company, he said in a telephone interview from Montreal. Two years ago, he answered questions by the British Columbia Securities Commission about his business dealings, De Rosa said.
“I’m not Mafia,” De Rosa said he told the commission. “If a rabbi sits down with the pope, does that make him Catholic?”
De Rosa isn’t under investigation, the financial police in Milan said.
Organized crime flourished during the economic crisis in Italy, according to a report published last month. The country’s main crime groups boosted profit by 12 percent to more than 78 billion euros from 2008 to 2009, according to Rome-based anti- racketeering group SOS Impresa’s annual report.
The Infinex case is an example of “Mafia infiltration of the real economy,” according to the police statement.
Infinex, based in Las Vegas, is a mineral exploration company. Infinex gave one of the brothers 100,000 shares in exchange for the rights to explore for gold on Texada Island, British Columbia, De Rosa said. No gold was found. The shares were last traded at less than one cent a share.
The company warned shareholders with a release on PR Newswire on Jan. 9, 2006, of a “pump-and-dump” scam that would be of “no benefit to the company’s shareholders other than those unknown individuals attempting to make a personal gain.” False e-mails were being sent “in an attempt to increase the share value, which is totally unwarranted,” according to the release, which cited De Rosa.
A Milan brokerage, which wasn’t named, encouraged about 100 investors to buy the shares based on insider information or false news, police said. Unidentified shareholders would then sell when the stock rose, officials said.
In 2004, investigators revealed that Italian members of the Rizzuto crime family, which has been linked to drug trafficking to North America from South America, were seeking to invest in building a bridge linking Sicily to the Italian mainland. A separate 2007 probe uncovered people tied to the clan operating in Rome, Milan, Vicenza Verona, Bologna, Florence, Bari, Reggio Calabria, Catanzaro and Agrigento, according to a statement from that investigation.
In 2007, police uncovered a plan to launder $600 million in illegal proceeds and sequestered 150 million euros in assets in Italy associated with the crime syndicate.
Source: Business Week
Police have now dedicated a squad of 16 officers to investigating the cases of arson, said Montreal police Const. Christian Émond.
“We can’t afford not to look into that incident to see if it has any connection to the fires we’ve seen,” Émond said.
“The three main leads that we’re looking at right now is either an internal struggle within the Italian Mafia, a possible attempt to take over territory by street gangs or maybe a combination of both,” Émond said.
Officers are also hoping to catch the culprits in the act, Émond said.
“We’ve increased the number of officers on the street in the concerned areas so that we have more eyes out there to help us determine if and when any other place is targeted.”
Nick Rizzuto Jr. was shot several times in broad daylight in the city’s Notre-Dame-de-Grâce neighbourhood on Dec. 28.
Rizzuto, 42, was the son of Vito Rizzuto, who is in a medium-security prison in Colorado, serving a 10-year sentence for racketeering relating to three murders in Brooklyn in 1981.
Attacks date back to November
The shooting came as police continued their investigation into a string of at least 14 Molotov cocktail attacks dating back to November.
The common thread between the targeted locations is that they are cafés owned by people of Italian descent, where police have observed known criminals or criminal activities in the past, Émond said.
Investigators do not believe the two latest attacks are related to the string of incidents, Émond said.
The casket bearing the remains of Nick Rizzuto is carried out of the church following Saturday’s funeral.
Early Thursday morning, a car was set on fire at a dealership in the city’s Hochelaga-Maisonneuve district. Twenty minutes later, a Molotov cocktail was thrown through the window of a La Belle Province restaurant a few blocks away.
The last incident tied to the ongoing investigation was the firebombing of a café in the Saint-Michel neighbourhood Tuesday night, Émond said.
In that incident, officers said the lone employee on site was pistol-whipped and robbed by three men.
The men then poured fuel around the café before tossing Molotov cocktails through the window of the building.
In December 2008, a 46-year-old man was shot dead in the same café.
In early December, police arrested an 18-year-old man in connection with the Nov. 24 firebombing of Café Ferrari on André-Ampère Avenue in Rivière-des-Prairies.
Source: CBC News http://www.cbc.ca/canada/montreal/story/2010/01/08/montreal-firebombings-shooting.html
A man who ordered a hit on a Mafia mobster has lost a bid to have stripped away a prison label describing him as the boss of a crime family.
Peter Scarcella, 59, is serving nine years for a botched hit in April 2004 that left Toronto mom Louise Russo paralyzed from gunshots at California Sandwiches on Chesswood Dr.
The target was Michele Modica, a convicted heroin trafficker linked to the Sicilian Mafia.
Scarcella and three other men were convicted of the high-profile incident that sparked outrage in the city.
Scarcella went to the Federal Court of Canada to remove the Correctional Services Canada designation that he’s the “boss” of the “Scarcella Traditional Organized Crime Group.”
Inmates assessed by Correctional Services to have ties to organized crime are placed in that designated group because they are considered more of a threat inside the prisons.
Without the label, it’s easier for inmates to get prison liberty, transfers and parole, something that Scarcella is now seeking.
“The key argument of Mr. Scarcella is that the designation is based on speculation, allegations and suspicions rather than fact,” Madam Justice Judith Snider said in her decision last week. Scarcella has never been convicted of an organized crime offence.
Snider said Scarcella could have renounced his involvement with organized crime, but didn’t. He came to Canada from Sicily in the ’70s and started off as a driver for Paul Volpe, then considered the “don of Toronto.”