The heads of the most powerful criminal organizations in Montreal were rounded up Thursday as part of a drug trafficking investigation that has shaken up the city’s underworld and uncovered an incredible murder plot.
Leonardo Rizzuto, 46, and his longtime friend Stefano Sollecito, 48, were described as being the new heads of the Mafia in Montreal after more than 200 police officers made 48 arrests as part of two investigations — Projects Magot and Mastiff — that were joined together and revealed the Mafia, the Hells Angels and the city’s major street gangs were working in concert to control drug trafficking in the city.
Rizzuto is the son of Vito Rizzuto, the former head of the Mafia in Montreal who died of natural causes near the end of 2013. Sollecito is the son of Rocco Sollecito, a longtime Mafia leader who remained loyal to the organization while attempts were made to overtake it roughly four years ago.
The police also alleged that Loris Cavaliere, 61, a longtime defence lawyer, used his office in Little Italy on St-Laurent Blvd., as a place where the major players assumed they could meet in private because of the protection lawyers have to keep their discussion with clients secret. Cavaliere was arrested Thursday morning and is charged with “participating or contributing to the activity of a criminal organization” to facilitate its crimes.
Leonardo Rizzuto, grandson of Nicolo Rizzuto Sr., arrives at the funeral of his grandfather and reputed former head of the Montreal Mafia at the Notre-Dame-de-la-Défense church in Little Italy in Montreal Nov. 15, 2010.
Also charged on Thursday was Maurice "Mom" Boucher, the former Hells Angels leader who is serving a life sentence for having issued orders that led to the murders of two provincial prison guards and the attempted murder of another in 1997. Boucher, 62, is alleged to have used his daughter, Alexandra Mongeau, 25, to relay messages to his former bodyguard, Gregory Woolley, 43, as part of a plan to kill Raynald Desjardins, a former right-hand man of Vito Rizzuto, who is currently awaiting his sentence for his role in the murder of a Mafioso.
According to an indictment filed at the Longueuil courthouse, the plot to kill Raynald Desjardins began in July and ended on Nov. 9.
Lawyer Loris Cavaliere at the preliminary hearing for Danny De Gregoria on a weapons charge at the Palais de Justice in Montreal, Wednesday May 9, 2012.
Salvatore Cazzetta, 60, a longtime member of the Hells Angels and one of its more influential members in Quebec, was also arrested on Thursday. He is alleged to be the man who handled the money for the alliance between the Mafia, Hells Angels and street gangs.
Sûreté du Québec Chief Inspector Patrick Belanger said the combined investigations “allowed the arrests of the very influential heads of organized crime who formed an alliance” between the Hells Angels, Mafia and street gangs.
“This alliance was born out of a desire to control territory, particularly drug trafficking, and more particularly the area of Montreal, and to share revenues,” Belanger said. “During the investigation, Gregory Woolley, 43, of St-Hubert, was identified as the head of street gangs and also an influential player within the alliance.”
“For their part, Stefano Sollecito and Leonardo Rizzuto were identified as the heads of the (Mafia in Montreal). They took the place of Vito Rizzuto who died in 2013.”
An organizational chart presented at the press conference by the SQ indicates that Cavaliere acted as a go-between for the Mafia and members of street gangs. His office was allegedly used for meetings between high-level members of organized crime.
Charges against those arrested include gangsterism, drug trafficking and conspiracy to commit murder.
A joint SQ, RCMP and Montreal Police task force raided the Cavaliere & Associés offices in Montreal Nov. 19, 2015.
Five suspects remain at large. They are:
Eric Bourgeois, 37, from Montréal
José Mc Carthy, 39, from Montréal
Patrick Williams, 41, from Mascouche
Dominique Gauthier, 45, from Terrebonne
Martin Céleste, 35, from Terrebonne
Salvatore Cazzetta, right, leaves a Longueuil courthouse south of Montreal, with his lawyer, Thursday Nov. 20, 2014.
During the investigation, police seized $1.2 million in cash. During Thursday’s raids, officers confiscated 41 guns, 122 cellphones, one Harley-Davidson motorcycle and seven kilograms of cocaine.