The 47-year-old mobster and his older brother Domenico Paolo Violi were arrested last year as part of Project OTremens. The collaborative Canadian-U.S. probe targeted members of the Mafia on both sides of the border involved in various crimes including the trafficking of fentanyl and cocaine. Among the others arrested in the probe were members of the Bonanno and Gambino families of the New York Mafia and the Todaro Crime Family of Buffalo according to reports.
The probe was more successful then authorities could have hoped when an undercover police agent was formally inducted into the Bonanno crime family. The Mafia induction ceremony took place in Canada and was captured on both audio and video. According to authorities acting Bonanno captain Damiano Zummo presided over the ceremony. According to court transcripts, he told the agent “The reason why we’re here is from this day forward, you’re gonna be an official member of the Bonanno family. It’s already — from this guy, this guy, this guy — everybody approved it, so from this day forward, you’re a member of the Bonanno family. Congratulations.”
The Bonanno family has long-standing ties to Canada especially Montreal and were closely tied to the powerful Rizzuto crime family for years. They backed the Rizzuto’s during an internal war that led to the murder of former leader Paolo Violi. It was his death that opened the door for the Sicilian based Rizzuto’s to take control of the Montreal mafia away from the Calabrian linked Violi. His wife and sons fled to Hamilton a long time stronghold of the Calabrian Mafia also known as the Ndrangheta. But as the Rizzuto’s grew in power their ties to the Bonanno family seemingly deteriorated.
His sons have established ties to the Calabrian mafia along with the mafia in Buffalo and New York. This recent case has caused plenty of speculation as to the current status of the relationship between Mafia organizations in the U.S. and Canada. Why was a Bonanno family induction ceremony which seemingly had to have the blessing of the families hierarchy being held in Canada? What exactly is the current status of the Buffalo Mafia? Could the Violi brothers have played a part in the recent Montreal mafia war targeting the Rizzuto family as revenge for their father’s murder?
There has been plenty of speculation as to who is behind the attacks against the Rizzuto’s many of which point toward Calabrian backed factions. Could the Bonanno and Gambino families be making new connections with the Calabrians in Hamilton and Ontario as a bridge back to Montreal? With the Rizzuto’s all but decimated the landscape of the mafia in Montreal is changing opening up opportunities for new alliances esp in the lucrative drug trade. If the Calabrians are behind the attacks they could take control grabbing a large portion of those drug profits for them and their allies.
The once powerful mafia in Buffalo was believed to be all but dead but could they be more viable and alive than it seems? It has long been a Cosa Nostra stronghold and remains an important location from a logistics standpoint. While there is no proof beyond tidbits from this case that point to the families recent status or stability it remains an interesting possibility as detailed previously in an article here. This case has proven that links between mob families formed years ago that included Hamilton-Buffalo-Montreal-New York remain at least somewhat intact.
Domenico Violi has yet to stand trial and perhaps additional information will be made public then leading to a few more answers. What lies ahead for the mafia in Canada once the dust settles in Montreal and a new era of leadership emerges will certainly be of interest to many. Along with the possibility of a resurgent relationship with their American mafia allies.