The Rizzuto crime family took control of the Montreal mafia back in the 1970s, emerging from a bloody internal war between the Sicilian and Calabrian factions. The upstart Sicilian faction led by Nicolo Rizzuto moved against the Calabrian faction known as the Cotroni family led by Vic Cotroni and Paolo Violi.
After several murders, including that of Violi the Rizzuto crime family took control with the blessing of the New York based Bonanno crime family to which it was associated. For years the Rizzuto’s were considered a part of the Bonanno family and many believe their alliance played a part in the take over. The family grew to become one of the most powerful organized crime syndicates in Canada in the 1990s under Nicolo’s son Vito Rizzuto and its ties to the American mafia diminished as they established their own mark.
The latest bloody Montreal mafia war, which began in 2009 with the death of key Rizzuto family mobsters, including Vito’s son Nick Rizzuto Jr, Nicolo Rizzuto, Agostino Cuntrera, and Paolo Renda. It was believed an internal faction backed by Calabrian mobsters perhaps from old Cotroni family were behind the attacks. The death of longtime family godfather Vito Rizzuto in 2013 left the family in an even weaker state having to move to a new and younger leadership group to try and maintain their power base. This new group formed what was known as the mafia leadership table allegedly headed by Stefano Sollecito and Leonardo Rizzuto the remaining son of Vito Rizzuto. Stefano is also the son of a long time influential Rizzuto family mobster Rocco Sollecito who some believe also still played a part in the families leadership.
This new group of leaders doesn’t seem to command the respect that the elder leaders, including Vito Rizzuto did and it may lead to the end of the Rizzuto family era. Both Stefano and Leonardo were arrested as part of a recent investigation into organized crime in Montreal, which included the Montreal mafia and Hells Angels outlaw biker club. Sources believe their arrests may have actually saved their lives as they were believed to be targeted in a mafia murder plot. These sources confirm that several factions of the Montreal mob were displeased with the management of the new mob leadership table and in particular Stefano Sollecito. The old guard of the Montreal mafia took offense to what they considered to be a lack of seriousness by this new and younger group of leaders.
Mafia sources believe that factions in the Montreal mafia may line up behind a group of Montreal Calabrians making their way back to the streets which include Francesco Arcadi and Lorenzo Giordano. Arcadi is from Reggio Calabria and migrated to Canada becoming associated with the Cotroni family before joining the Rizzuto family after their rise to power. Even though he was from Calabrian descent, he rose through the ranks of the Rizzuto family becoming a close ally of both Nicolo and Vito Rizzuto. He was a key figure along with his top lieutenants Giordano and Francesco Del Balso and was believed to have even served as interim boss of the family back in 2004 after Vito was arrested on racketeering charges. Arcadi and both lieutenants would be arrested in Project Colisee and received prison terms each of 15 years.
They are now all set to return to the streets after serving their sentences and may be in a position to take control of the unstable Montreal mafia putting it back under a Calabrian based leadership. If factions within what is left of the fractured Rizzuto family decide to back the returning Calabrians it could signal the end of an era and the last hours of the Rizzuto clan. Giordano has already been released from the halfway house where he finished out the remainder of his sentence and Arcadi and Del Baso are set to follow in coming months. The men have already expressed their interest in taking back control of the Montreal underworld according to previous reports. Some sources believe that Giordano may be in line to become the interim leader of the mob in Montreal or at least be a key piece in a new leadership group.
Authorities believe this may lead to more bloodshed and another internal mafia war, which may already be showing signs of starting. Just days after Giordano’s release locations with links to the Rizzuto family, including the Empire Cafe were hit with Molotov cocktails. This was the second time now in less than a month the Empire Cafe was targeted. Empire Cafe was often frequented by members of the Montreal mafia leadership table, including recently by Leonardo Rizzuto and is to some a kind of headquarters for the boardroom of the mafia. Sources believe this fire bombing may be a message from within signaling a coming fight for control of the Montreal underworld and an era ending changing of the guard in the mafia in Montreal.