Murder in Little Italy

The murder of 35-year-old Johnnie “Johnny Maserati” Raposo took place in broad daylight at a Sicilian Sidewalk Cafe in Little Italy during the screening of a soccer match. The hired hit-man, Dean Wiwchar, was impersonating a construction worker by wearing an orange construction vest, sunglasses, a long-haired wig and a dusk mask. The killer approached Raposo and shot him 4 times in the head.

Dean Wiwchar Drressed as a Construction Worker

Dean Wiwchar Dressed as a Construction Worker

The Alleged Killer and Planners

While Wiwchar was the hired hit-man, the schemers behind the killing were Rabih Alkhalil, Nicola Nero and Martino Caputo.  All charged with 1st-degree murder.

Rabih Alkhalil, Nicola Nero and Martino Caputo

Rabih Alkhalil – Nicola Nero – Martino Caputo

Wiwcher was also a suspect in the gang-related slaying of Sandip Duhre in January 2012. His record has been tainted with violence from as early as his high school days. He had been charged with numerous assaults and robberies even before the murder and he had also been sentenced to 10 years in prison for possession of firearms at his residence.

Of the trio, Nero, 36 of Niagara Falls, was arrested in May 2012 during Project INK. During the bust, the police found $1million in cash, a ring worth $890,000, a Maserati and a Ferrari. Even while under arrest Nero was alleged to be running a massive drug ring smuggling $1.9 billion worth of narcotics; one of the largest drug rings in Canada. Nero was arrested again as a result of Project INK 2, a continuation of Project INK, which involved smuggling nearly half a ton of drugs into Canada weekly. The route that was used by the smugglers started from the production fields of Mexico, through the U.S, and on into Canada using Niagara’s bridge crossings.

PGP, a message encrypting technology which is usually used by the military, was used by the traffickers to communicate, which the police came to know about during the property searches that followed Nero’s arrest. The police believe that Nero rose to be Kingpin after he committed a robbery of $2.7 million, of which $1million (which is said to be his share), according to the police, was never recovered. Nero might have used this money to enter the drug smuggling business. Unfortunately for Nero, even after his parole for the $2.7 million robbery sentence, he was caught and jailed again for 9 years for selling bricks of narcotics to an undercover police agent.

Rabih Alkhalil, another one of the trio, was from Saudi Arabia and immigrated to Canada in 1990. He was alleged to have run a drug ring that would import and distribute nearly 200lbs  of drugs on a weekly basis. Alkhalil was the last of the three to be arrested for the murder since he was on a run.

Caputo, from Toronto, the 3rd of the homicide masterminds, was arrested in Germany. He is known to have run a restaurant in Forest Hill with his brother where he was frequently visited by the notorious “Montreal Teflon Don”, Vito Rizzuto. Not surprisingly, Caputo and his brother are said to be linked to Rizzuto. Caputo is also said to be Nero’s close helper in his drug business. What is surprising is that Caputo was highly regarded as a very kind, generous and responsible citizen. It’s as if he were living two lives. In one he was an upstanding member of the community and in the other, a drug dealer and 1st-degree murderer. Of all the three planners of Raposa’s murder, Caputo had the best testimonials presented to the court by his friends and family, most probably from people who didn’t know everything about him.

Vito Rizzuto

“Montreal Teflon Don” Vito Rizzuto

Project INK Linking To the Murder

The investigation of the murder merged with the cross-border drug smuggling investigation when the police intercepted some messages as part of Project INK. The interception revealed that Wiwcher was first contacted by Alkhalil, who even called him his “best hitter”, and hired him for the murder for $100,000. The police were granted permission to tap Caputo’s phone and given warrants to search Nero’s home from where they seized his Blackberry which gave them access to his emails.

The Crown prosecutor, Maurice Gillezeau, said that the messages could provide evidence that the murder was a planned assassination, initiated by Nero and later joined by the other two schemers. The crown also alleged that the three planners were in a deal with Raposo involving cross border drug trafficking. They believed that Raposo cheated and ratted them out. The trio planned to kill Raposo and divide the drug money amongst themselves. Nero and Caputo were arrested in 2013 while Alkhalil was on the run until his arrest in 2014.

An Alternate Story

All four alleged planners have pleaded not guilty. Their lawyer, Solomon Friedman, presented in their defense an allegation that Frederic Lavoie, also a drug dealer, plotted Raposo’s murder. The alleged reason is that Raposo had threatened Friedman to kill his men for stealing a huge drug shipment that was his. Friedman, who was himself the head of a drug smuggling business, with the capacity to smuggle 900lbs of drugs monthly, was found dead 2 years later. His body was cut into pieces and put into plastic bags.

An email from “Dream Catcher”, (the real name of the sender is still unknown), that had been found about 1 hour after the killing, provided minute details of the murder to another email ID “Run Nhide” which the prosecution allege was Alkhalil’s. Solomon however, said that the email was accessed by someone else and not Alkhalil. This is a very important argument from the defense’s side as the email is the only thing that links Alkhalil to the murder. If the email is proved to have been read by someone else and not by Alkhalil, then there would be no case against him.

Nicola Nero, Martino Caputo, Rabih Alkhalil and Dean Wiwchar were all found guilty of murder.

Rabih Alkhalil is currently on trial at the Gouin courthouse in northern Montreal for smuggling drugs into Canada, conspiracy to do the same and other related charges.