Montreal mafia leader Rocco Sollecito was gunned down in broad daylight on Friday in the Montreal suburb of Laval.
According to reports, Sollecito was shot to death behind the wheel of his BMW SUV at an intersection near the Laval police headquarters and was pronounced dead upon arrival at the hospital. Authorities believe the gunman was familiar with the 67-year-old mobsters routine and was waiting for him at a bus stop at the intersection. Witnesses reported hearing as many as eight gunshots and police have already classified the murder as a mafia hit.
Sollecito is but the latest in a string of murders targeting Montreal mafia members and specifically the old guard of the Rizzuto crime family in recent years. Rocco had deep roots in the Montreal mob and was a longstanding presence for years. He was a senior member of the Rizzuto family leadership and was very close to former leaders Vito Rizzuto and Nicolo Rizzuto and currently acted as a close advisor to his son Stefano Sollecito. Stefano and Vito’s son Leonardo Rizzuto took over as leaders of the Rizzuto family after Vito passed away.
A six-man mafia leadership table was formed which included Leonardo Rizzuto, Stefano Sollecito, and Lorenzo Giordano. But it didn’t last long as both Stefano and Leonardo were arrested back in November and remain in prison while Giordano was gunned down in a Laval parking lot just months after being released from prison. Stefano was alerted by police after his arrest of information that his life may have also been in danger. Author and journalist Antonio Nicaso told Vice.com he believes “There is a campaign to remove the management of the Rizzuto crime family. Someone wants to put an end to it…. No one is capable of leading a counterattack. I don’t see anyone among the old guard who is able to fight back.”
“Each time that the Mafia is in a period of turmoil, whether it’s the Sicilian or the American Mafia, it’s always because of a generational conflict, It’s the old guard versus the new guard,mafia style,” said author and civilian analyst Pierre de Champlain. A transition in leadership is underway which may not end until the old guard of the Rizzuto family is completely eliminated. Neither de Champlain nor Nicaso were willing to speculate as to who was behind these attacks of what remains of the once powerful Rizzuto clan but its clear the violence isn’t yet at an end.
Nicaso said, “In the Mafia, retirement is not an option, If you have to replace the top members of the organization, the only way to do it is to kill all of them.” He notes that the Rizzutos took power themselves by murdering the then-leaders of the Montreal Mafia in the late 1970s. But de Champlain believes the war is all but over and the Rizzuto family has lost as he noted: “We have to refer to the Rizzuto family in the past tense.”