The three-year-long police operation dubbed “Project OTremens” penetrated the highest levels of organized crime according to Canadian authorities. During Project OTremens the FBI in New York was conducting a parallel but separate probe leading to the takedown of alleged mobsters on both sides of the border. During the investigation, a co-operating turncoat mobster was able to record a ceremony held in Canada which led to him becoming a made man in the Bonanno crime family. The investigation also produced multiple recorded conversations from 2015-2017 about mafia business and internal affairs. Among the wiretapped conversation transcripts were some interesting claims about the current status of the Buffalo Mafia and the NY Mafia’s ruling panel.
In one of the informants recorded conversations Violi allegedly claimed to have been promoted to underboss of the Todaro crime family – the No. 2 man in charge of the whole thing. He claimed to have beaten out 30 other people for the high ranking position. The conversation also included claims that the powerful ruling body known as the Mafia Commission much like the Cosa Nostra family in Buffalo may still be active and functioning. According to the transcripts Violi said he was hand-picked by the alleged boss of the Buffalo family Joseph Todaro Jr. at an October 2017 meeting in Florida just before he was busted in Project OTremens. Todaro has long denied any ties to the Mafia and was not captured on any of the wiretaps or charged with any crimes.
In this new role, he was to “assume control over the operations of the Luppino-Violi crime family and solidify his power base with further and greater collaboration with the New York-based Mafia families.” Violi was allegedly recorded telling the turncoat mobster the following story:
“Domenic, you know you made history,” Violi said the alleged boss of the Buffalo Mafia family told him in 2017 after Violi was promoted to the position of Underboss, according to a wiretap summary tendered in court.
Violi asked what he meant.
Nobody in Canada has ever held such a high position, Violi said he was told, according to his own recounting caught on an RCMP recording.
It was such a unique situation that the Buffalo boss had consulted “the Commission” about it, the conversation continued. The opinion, he said, was that as long as someone is a member of the Mafia he is entitled to hold leadership positions within that family.
These new claims are extremely interesting considering the Mafia in Buffalo has reportedly been all but dead for several years. The aging crime family had fallen on hard times and had seemingly shown very little signs of life for years now. But authorities believe the resurgence of the organized crime family may have begun in and around 2014 according to this new evidence. This allegedly included the appointing of captains to run mob crews including one based in Hamilton. There were even taped discussion involving Domenico’s younger brother Giuseppe “Joey” Violi as to whether or not he would have to choose between being a made man in the Buffalo family like his brother or in the Bonanno family like his dad according to transcripts.
The court documents also suggest that soon after Violi was named underboss three of the other New York Mafia families had been told. Leaders of the Bonanno, Colombo, and Genovese families had all been notified. This would indicate clear and open lines of communication between not only the five families in New York but also between them and the Buffalo organization. This information has yet to be independently corroborated by any other sources and a representative from the FBI office in Buffalo said they could not confirm nor deny the allegations.
There are historical links between the New York and Canadian Mafia families. Domenico Violi is the son of former Montreal Mafia boss Paolo Violi and the grandson of former Hamilton mobster Giacomo Luppino. Paolo controlled the Bonanno crime families faction in Montreal until he was assassinated by rival Rizzuto family mobsters. Luppino like Violi was considered to be a part of the Ndrangheta in Canada and an associate of the New York Bonanno family. During the time he was the boss in Hamilton in the 60s and 70s he is believed to have helped form an alliance between mobsters from the then powerful Buffalo crime family and those in Hamilton.
This information is sure to open up new discussions and produce new questions as to the strength and status of the Buffalo Mafia. Along with just how strong the remaining ties are between the NY Mafia families and their Canadian counterparts.