Montreal Mafia Bust: Project Colisée

By David Amoruso
Posted on November 29, 2006

On the morning of Wednesday November 22, 2006 more than 700 police officers searched the homes of- and for people who were wanted for being part of a criminal enterprise. 71 people were arrested in that swoop, and more arrests were coming. Among those arrested were the leaders of the Rizzuto/Manno Mafia Family. The most famous of those arrested was Nicolo Rizzuto (82) father of reputed Montreal Mafia boss Vito Rizzuto. Vito was extradited to the US for his role in the 1981 murder of three Bonanno Family captains, and is awaiting trial. Other important men that were arrested are: Paolo Renda, Rocco Sollecito and Francesco Arcadi. Charges include importing, conspiracy to import and trafficking in drugs, conspiracy for the purpose of trafficking in drugs, criminal organization offence, bookmaking, possession of prohibited firearms, commission of offence for organized crime, extortion and attempted murders. These offences were committed between 2003 and 2006.

When Nicolo Rizzuto (picture on the right) came to Montreal, he quickly became a power within its underworld. He was working in the Sicilian wing of the Montreal Bonanno Faction under Luigi Greco, and became its leader when Greco died in a fire. The Montreal Bonanno Faction was led by the Calabrian Vincenzo Cotroni. Within the Montreal Faction there was always friction between the Sicilians and Calabrians. However it never resulted in war. But tension grew when Cotroni decided that his heir would be, fellow Calabrian, Paolo Violi. Nicolo Rizzuto did not want to work under Violi and did not like the passing of Greco’s interests to Violi. On the other hand Violi didnt want Rizzuto working for him either. The two men hated each other. Rizzuto would eventually leave Montreal, whether because he was ordered or because he left on his own free will, is not clear. It seemed Violi had won the battle, he had, but not the war. On January 22, 1978 Paolo Violi was shot to death inside his headquarters, the Reggio Bar. Nicolo Rizzuto had won the war.

With Violi out of the way the Sicilians unofficially took over. Unofficially because Cotroni was still the boss, he had cancer though, and wouldnt be around for much longer. Nicolo Rizzuto was still spending most of his time in Venzuela, making his son Vito the man who handled affairs in Montreal. Nicolo expected to be safe in Venezuela, but on February 12, 1988 officers with the Cuerpo Tecnico de Policia Judicial searched Nicolo’s home, and found a quantity of cocaine. Nicolo was arrested and would stay in a Venezuelan jail until 1993, when he was freed, and went back to Montreal.

By this time Montreal was under the firm control of the Rizzuto/Manno Family. In the book “The Sixth Family” the authors quote an internal police report which says that the Rizzuto/Manno Family consists of two large cells and one smaller cell, comprising around 130 members. The two large cells each have three bosses, the smaller one has one boss. These seven bosses report directly to Vito Rizzuto. At the time of the Nov. 22 arrests authorities say the two large cells reported to Nicolo Rizzuto and Francesco Arcadi, both were arrested that November morning. The Rizzuto/Manno Family had become much more than a faction of the New York Bonanno Family, they had investments in Saudi Arabia, China, Cuba and Belize, and were working with South American drug cartels. In the indictment it is alleged that the Family corrupted several customs officers in order to import drugs.

Project Colisée has made a hard blow to the Rizzuto/Manno Family. “Sixth Family” author Lee Lamothe hailed the operation but was skeptical if it would really break the Family’s grip: "This criminal organization has been going for 50,000 days, and in that 50,000 days they've had one bad day, and that was Wednesday."

Copyright © Gangsters Inc.

E-mail me when people leave their comments –

You need to be a member of Gangsters Inc. - to add comments!