Updated news on the Gambino, Genovese, Bonanno, Lucchese and Colombo Organized Crime Families of New York City.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Rise of Rizzuto Crime Family Echoed In Their Fall

Relatives of Nicolo Rizzuto, who was killed on Wednesday, seen after confronting photographers taking pictures near their homes in Montreal on Thursday

When a single bullet from a sniper’s rifle punched through two layers of glass in the rear patio doors of his Montreal mansion, striking Nicolò Rizzuto in the neck as he sat at his kitchen table with his wife and daughter nearby, killing him instantly, it was a hugely symbolic assassination.
And although the Mafia is an organization of such tradition that all cataclysmic events — such as Wednesday’s sniper attack on the 86-year-old godfather — are scrutinized for hidden meaning, the stunning similarities between this attack and the historical murder that brought Mr. Rizzuto to power are impossible to ignore.
Especially given how rare sniper attacks are within the traditional Italian Mafia.
In fact, each of the four murders that have recently cut the Rizzuto family to its core, are so remarkably like each of their antecedents that ushered the family to the throne, that police investigators are now pulling out their old files in their search for answers.
Police have confirmed that the gunman waited in the wooded area behind Mr. Rizzuto’s home in the well-heeled Cartierville neighbourhood of Montreal for an opportunity to shoot. It is no more than 25 metres from the window to a high cedar hedge that separates the yard from a large undeveloped wooded plot of private property.
Mr. Rizzuto’s history has become well known: born in Sicily he immigrated with his family to Montreal in 1954. Here he fought against the established Mafia power, an organization firmly led by Paolo Violi and his brothers. The Violis were from Calabria, a region in southern Italy just across a narrow strait from Sicily.
Mr. Rizzuto was uncontrollable and Mr. Violi immovable.
After years of friction and negotiation, members of the Sicilian faction turned from words to bullets in a war from 1976 to 1980. When it ended, all of the Violi brothers lay buried together at the Notre-Dame-des-Neiges cemetery on the heights of Montreal’s Mount Royal.
Mr. Rizzuto then grabbed the reins and turned the Montreal Mafia into the most successful criminal organization this country has known.
Since 2004, the Rizzutos have been weakened by a series of arrests. And in recent months, police investigators say, it appears a new war for control of Montreal’s lucrative underworld erupted.
Examining the four murders that pushed the Rizzuto organization onto the throne and the four recent murders that may have toppled them have much in common.
It leads to the question of whether the Calabrian faction remembered well the sting of their loss and are only now looking to share it:

• The old war in Montreal started on Valentine’s Day in 1976 with a gun blast killing Pietro Sciara, above left, considered to be Violi’s consigliere. His body was left in the street after he left a movie theatre where he had seen The Godfather II with his wife.
The new war in Montreal started three days after Christmas in 2009 with a gun blast killing Nick Rizzuto Jr., above right, Vito’s eldest son who was considered a Rizzuto family street boss. His body was also left in the street to be found.
Both opening shots were public declarations, hurtful to the enemy and removed a target of strong strategic value.

The next murder in the old war came on Feb. 8, 1977 when at least two men boldly burst into the family business and murdered Francesco Violi, above left, the younger brother. He was the family muscleman and his body was mutilated with several shotgun and pistol wounds.
The new war was next advanced on May 20, 2010, when at least two men boldly stopped a car near the Rizzutos’ family homes and apparently kidnapped Paolo Renda, above right, Vito’s brother-in-law. He was believed to be the family moneyman and he has not been heard from since.

In the old war, Paolo Violi, above left, the powerful boss of the Calabrian faction was killed on Jan. 22, 1978, in his old café, shot in the head at close range with a shotgun.
The new war next saw Agostino Cuntrera, above right, a powerful figure believed to have sat as interim boss of the Sicilian faction, was killed on June 29, 2010, outside his food-distribution business, shot in the head at close range with a shotgun.

Finally, the old war ended on Oct. 17, 1980, when Rocco Violi, above left, the last of the Violi brothers, was seated at his kitchen table in his Montreal home for a meal with family and a single bullet from a sniper’s rifle crashed through a window and struck him dead. The war was over. The Rizzuto organization moved to fill the vacuum.
In the new war, on Wednesday, Nicolò Rizzuto, above right, the family patriarch, was seated at his kitchen table in his Montreal home for a meal with family when a single bullet from a sniper’s rifle punched through a window and struck him dead.
Is the war over? And who will fill the vacuum?



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