Police raids net dozens of suspected mobsters
Hundreds of police rounded up dozens of people, including a man reputed to be the former Mafia godfather of Canada, in a series of raids Wednesday targeting organized crime across the Montreal area.
Police arrested 69 people â€” including Nicolo Rizzuto, 82 â€” after executing more than 80 arrest warrants in the culmination of the so-called Project Colisee. The operation began two years ago.
More than 700 RCMP, municipal and provincial police officers fanned out across Laval and Montreal North in the early morning, armed with search warrants for dozens of homes, businesses and bank accounts.
Police expect to lay more than 1,300 charges, including attempted murder, drug dealing, gangsterism, extortion, bookmaking and possession of restricted weapons.
RCMP Cpl. Luc Bessette said that among those alleged to have been involved are 10 employees at Montreal's Pierre Trudeau airport, including two Canadian customs service agents. One of the agents has been arrested and police are searching for the other, he said.
The corporal said some of those employees were involved in food services and cargo handling.
Bessette also alleged the suspects were involved in online sports betting, importing cocaine through the airport and trafficking it in Canada. He also alleged the suspects were linked to another criminal organization that was exporting marijuana to the U.S. through a native reserve. But police added that no one on the reserve was involved.
Police claim major score against mob
Montreal police said Rizzuto and Francesco Arcadi were among the suspected organized crime figures arrested.
Rizzuto is the father of Vito Rizzuto, the reputed Mafia boss deported to the United States to face racketeering charges in connection with the 1981 murders of three high-ranked New York mobsters from the Bonnano crime family.
Arcadi is an alleged associate of the younger Rizzuto, and is believed to have taken his place since the extradition.
The suspects are being held in four police stations and will appear in court throughout the day, either in person or by video link, to be arraigned, police said.
The arrests cap a two-year police probe into Montreal's organized crime scene considered a major hit on the city's underworld.
But one expert on the Mafia expressed reservations about the long-term impact of the police raids.
"This will be a significant blow to the Rizzuto family, but not necessarily to Mafia in Quebec in Canada," said Antonio Nicaso, author of several books on the Mafia.