Bikers Suspects in 'Amateurish' Slay of Montagna

Sal 'The Ironworker' Montagna
From the, we learn that Sal Montagna, the former acting boss of the Bonanno family who was deported to Canada a few years ago, may have been murdered by bikers for trying to wrest control of the Montreal Mafia from the dying Rizzuto family. Bikers may have done the hit, but it seems more than likely they would only be hired guns.

Salvatore “Sal the Ironworker” Montagna was shot on Ile Vaudry, a working-class neighborhood on a small island about 30 miles north of Montreal, and dumped into a river, Canadian police said in the report.

Montagna was only 35 when he took over one of the five crime families in 2006, earning him the nickname the “Bambino Boss."

"Given Montagna’s longtime involvement with organized crime and the fact that he had lived at various points of his life in Italy, the U.S. and Canada, investigators planned to cast a wide net in their murder probe, said Sgt. Benoit Richard of Surete du Quebec, the provincial police agency," accord to the

"That includes looking into whether the hit may be related to the murder last week of an outlaw biker with organized-crime connections in an adjacent town. Richard said it “doesn’t seem to be” linked, but cops aren’t “ruling out anything.”

Montagna, 40, was also reportedly involved in a three-way power struggle to take over the Montreal mob, and had been in talks with his rivals to pick a consensus leader, the reports.

“Looks like it didn’t work,” an investigator told the Montreal Gazette.

[A video clip of a newscast about the murder is on the jump page of this story]

Also of note, police describe the hit as amateurish, The Globe and Mail reports, and some sources are also saying that Montagna may have known the clock was ticking for him, but like other mobsters in the life, just went about his day to day activities, taking no actions to protect himself (although it is likely he was carrying at least a gun or two if he knew a hit was in the wind). 
Former Montreal mob leader found dead
Video from
Published Friday, Nov. 25, 2011 11:08AM EST

On Thanksgiving (in the U.S., anyway) as the shooting was going down, "several area residents called 911 after hearing sounds they said resembled a crash and explosion. Some said it was broken glass and gunfire," reports The Globe and Mail.

"It appears Mr. Montagna fled on foot into the river before collapsing from gunshot wounds. Within minutes, police officers dragged him from the water and tried to resuscitate him. He was pronounced dead in hospital.

"'This is so sloppy, but the way Montreal is right now, it’s the amateurs who seem to hold the stage,' said Lee Lamothe, co-author of The Sixth Family, a book about Montreal’s mob scene.

"Mr. Montagna was born in Montreal in 1971 but was not considered a player in Canada until recently. Instead he rose through the ranks of the Bonanno crime family in New York, where he moved as a teenager and where he founded the small steel company that would give him his nickname."

In 2009, U.S. federal authorities deported Mr. Montagna to Montreal following a 2003 conviction for contempt of court -- coupled with news of his promotion following the arrest of former boss/now informant Joe Massino.

When he arrived in Canada in 2009, the Sicilian Rizzuto clan in Montreal was already sliding, but "Montagna’s arrival appeared to accelerate matters," reports The Globe and Mail.

In the book Mafia Inc., authors André Cédilot and André Noël report that Montagna launched his play to run Montreal about two years ago with Ontario-based backers of Calabrian origin.

“No longer reluctant to overtly wield his power, [Montagna] sought out Nicolo Rizzuto and tried to reason with him, telling the patriarch that his reign was over. Old Nick coldly rebuffed Montagna,” the authors wrote. 

"Old Nick was dead within months, and now Mr. Montagna is as well," The Globe and Mail reports.

“This looks like a new internal fight for power; Montagna was one of the key men in this realignment,” Mr. Cédilot said in an interview in the Globe. “Perhaps they lack consensus and perhaps he became too big for the taste of the others.”

Montagna was far less flamboyant than many of the mob bosses who have gained notoriety in Canada and the United States, the article also notes.

"In 2006, federal authorities in New York, backed by wiretaps, revealed Mr. Montagna was the new Bonanno boss. Many experts said the fact that a 36-year-old had become boss was a sign of desperation. Senior members of the Bonanno family were said to have valued Mr. Montagna’s origins. He had spent much of his childhood in Castellammare del Golfo, the small Sicilian birthplace of many key mobsters. They believed he would put loyalty above all else," The Globe and Mail reports.

Read the full article: Shot down in a ‘sloppy’ hit, another Montreal mobster dies