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

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Canadian mobster linked to Vito Rizzuto meets a violent death in Sicily ambush

Juan Ramon Fernandez, described by police in Canada as “a perfect gangster,” died the perfect Hollywood gangster death — ambushed by mob rivals, dying in a hail of bullets and his body burned in a field in the picturesque countryside outside Palermo, the historic capital city of Sicily.
Mr. Fernandez was slain alongside another mob-linked man from Canada and, in a persuasive sign that Montreal’s mob war has spread to Sicily, the very birthplace of the Mafia, one of two men charged with their murders was also previously deported from Canada.
“We believe the order to kill him came from Canada. We are sure of it,” said an Italian officer working on the large investigation.
The gold Rolex watch Mr. Fernandez held precious as the only jewellery he could bring with him from Canada, was found in the possession of one of those charged with his murder, said investigators.
The murders backstop a large investigation by Italian police revealing the trans-Atlantic reach of the Mafia in Canada, with mobsters shuttling from Toronto and Montreal to arrange global drug shipments and even continuing their underworld feud abroad as if borders did not exist.
Postmedia News files
Vito Rizzuto, the Mafia boss from Montreal for whom Juan Ramon Fernandez worked while in Canada.
“There’s four guys at an important Mafia murder in Sicily and three of them lived in Canada. That says a lot about the Mafia here, their mobility, their relationships internationally,” said an Ontario organized crime investigator.
Mr. Fernandez, 56, was born in Spain but grew up in Canada and became an important mob figure in Quebec and Ontario. His charred body was found in Sicily as police closed their probe, codenamed Operation Argo, that saw 21 mobsters arrested on Wednesday.
Mr. Fernandez’s last day alive was April 9 when he and Fernando Pimentel, 36, an associate from Mississauga, Ont., who was visiting him in Sicily, left for a meeting to close a marijuana deal, authorities say.
He was meeting Pietro and Salvatore Scaduto, two brothers, in an isolated field outside Bagheria, near Palermo, where Mr. Fernandez was told a large marijuana crop was being harvested, authorities alleged. Mr. Fernandez knew the brothers and trusted them; he was heard many times on police wiretaps extolling their friendship.
The deal, however, was a planned ambush, the type needed to kill someone as feared as Mr. Fernandez.
When they got out of the car, they were met with a fusillade of bullets, killing them both, authorities said. Their bodies were stripped of their valuables, pushed into the bush at the side of the dirt road and burned.
Police wondered why Mr. Fernandez was suddenly no longer heard on the wiretaps. The surveillance teams that usually watched him stroll about town had no one to follow.
“He went silent,” said the officer. “We thought he may have started a journey for Canada.”
But days later, one of the Scaduto brothers was caught trying to sell Mr. Fernandez’s Rolex watch for 3,000 euros, authorities said.
Police handout
Police in Sicily investigate the scene where the bodies of Juan Ramon Fernandez and Fernando Pimentel were found.
The watch was not something Mr. Fernandez would let go willingly.
“He loved that watch. Every day he wore this watch. Every day,” said the officer in Italy, who requested his name not be published. Italian police had heard him say it was the only piece not confiscated by police in Canada.
Investigators in Canada believe the watch was given to him by Vito Rizzuto, the Mafia boss from Montreal for whom Mr. Fernandez worked while in Canada.
Pietro Scaduto, 49, and Salvatore Scaduto, 51, were charged with murder. Pietro is a former Toronto resident.
Two months after Mr. Fernandez was released from prison in Canada in April 2004 and deported to Spain he arrived in Bagheria.
‘We believe the order to kill him came from Canada. We are sure of it’
Again showing the links between the underworld of Canada and Italy, he chose the city because as many as 10 mafiosi there have ties to Canada, primarily with the Rizzuto crime family, the officer said.
Several are former residents of Canada, including Michele Modica, Andrea Carbone and Pietro Scaduto — all of whom were involved in the notorious California Sandwiches shooting in Toronto in 2004, a botched mob hit that left Louise Russo, an innocent mother, paralyzed.
After that shooting, all were deported back to Bagheria.
Although Mr. Fernandez had been deported three times from Canada because of criminal convictions, he always considered Canada home.
“Fernandez lived in Sicily, but his heart and his mind were in Toronto. He thought every day of the business of Toronto. His business was still there, everyday he was in contact with his men in Toronto,” said an officer who has been immersed in the investigation.
“And Canadian men came to Italy to meet with him and talk to him about his business in Toronto and in Montreal.”
Police handout
A surveillance photo of Juan Ramon Fernandez in Sicily.
But as the mobsters erase borders, police herald their own international co-operation: Italian authorities were alerted to Mr. Fernandez by Canadian police.
“We were notified that a very important wiseguy had arrived in Sicily and we started to investigate this guy,” said the officer.
In Sicily, Mr. Fernandez was sending oxycodone pills from Sicily to Canada, using Sicilian Mafiosi as couriers, and arranging cocaine shipments from Ecuador and Colombia to Italy and Canada, police said.
“He was in a very good situation, from the criminal point of view,” said the officer.
Until the very end.



Post a Comment