Canadian Cops Uncover Plans for Desjardins' Escape Caper

Price Of Failure: Sal "The Ironworker" Montagna is pulled
from the water. He was killed after his alleged attempt to have
Raynald Desjardins taken out failed a month earlier.

Canadian law enforcement has foiled plans for an escape plot meant to free organized crime big-shot Raynald Desjardins, according to a story that ran last Saturday in Montreal's French-language La Presse newspaper.

The void at the top created by the sudden death of Vito Rizzuto is making mobsters antsy up north, as expected.

As per the foiled caper, Desjardins would have been freed after his cohorts rammed his prison transport and unleashed a violent barrage of gunfire while the arrested gangster was traveling from prison in Bordeaux to the courthouse in Joliette.

Desjardins was arrested in December 2011 for his alleged involvement in the slaying of former Bonanno acting-boss Salvatore Montagna, who'd been appointed by Vinny Gorgeous Basciano after he was arrested based on the testimony of former boss Joe Massino, who flipped.

Montagna was shot to death on Thanksgiving Day in 2011, shortly after 10 a.m. on Ile aux Tresors, a suburban area on an island near the town of Charlemagne. Investigators believe he jumped into a frigid river in a bid to evade his killers after they started firing at him.

Desjardins under arrest for the slaying of Montagna.
“A witness said they saw a man jump in the water ... after hearing at least one shot,” Sgt. Benoit Richard of the Quebec provincial police was quoted as saying.

CTV reported that when police had pulled Montagna out of the water, he was still alive but unconscious and had died at a local hospital.

Montagna supposedly had been trying to gain control of the Rizzuto family's interests in Montreal-based organized crime operations, and had been originally working with Desjardins, along with Desjardins' much respected brother-in-law, the old-time former Calabrian gangster Joseph Di Maulo. But when Montagna's alleged attempt on Sept. 16, 2011 to hit Desjardins near the Canadian gangster's home in Laval failed, it apparently didn't take long for Raynald and Di Maulo to decipher the plot and identify Montagna as the one behind it.

While Desjardins and two others were nabbed within weeks of the slaying, Canadian law enforcement never got their hands on Di Maulo, who would himself be hit within one week of Vito Rizzuto's return from a U.S. prison. Rizzuto apparently was aware that he had lung cancer prior to his incarceration in the U.S. for his part in assassinations of three "rebel" capos in the Bonanno family; the capos were gearing up to mow down Bonanno members loyal to the family's ever-imprisoned boss, Phil "Rusty" Rastelli, when Joe Massino went to the Commission about the uprising. Gambino boss Paul Castellano provided Bonannos loyal to Rastelli permission to defend themselves, which gave Massino the green light to pull his storied double-cross against Sonny "Red" Indelicato, Phil "Phil Lucky" Giaccone, and Dominic "Big Trin" Trinchera.

Joe Di Maulo's body located at the scene of the crime.
Rizzuto was wanted by U.S. officials shortly after turncoats Sal Vitale and Massino informed authorities that the Canadian mob boss, once called Canada's version of the Teflon Don, John Gotti, was involved in the three-capo takedown.

In a high-profile effort, prosecutors announced that they were working with Canadian officials to put Rizzuto behind U.S. bars. The case had two buzzwords that can be likened to catnip for the press: the Canadian John Gotti and, considering the three murder victims, the old Donnie Brasco story -- pure gold for prosecutors.

Rizzuto was sentenced to six years. Knowing full well what would happen in his absence, Rizzuto attempted to fight extradition, and was concerned to the extent that he took the very non-Cosa Nostra step of warning Canadian officials that there would be a bloody struggle in the streets for control of organized crime in Montreal if they let the Americans take him out of the picture -- and Rizzuto, of course, was proven correct.

While Vito was cooling his heels in an American prison cell, the cancer that would kill him already eating him from within, he had to sit by helplessly while the lives of both his father and son, both named Nicolo, were taken during the struggle for control.

Joe DiMaulo had been a highly respected mobster
known as a wise consiglieri. But he lost his loyalty.
It certainly would give a man a lot of food for thought, among other things.

Rizzuto was released near the end of 2012; within the next year, most of his enemies met their doom before he met his own, of the cancer, two days before Christmas Day 2013.

As for the Desjardins escape plan foiled by police, it included somehow slipping the jailed gangster both handcuff keys and a GPS locator chip; thus, his cohorts would be able to electronically track their partner and crime.

The gang members would speed up in a giant truck and overtake the prison vehicle, creating a barricade; shooters from out of the minivan pulling up to the crashed vehicles would then let loose on the stopped police vehicle until they could get close enough to pull open the doors and free Desjardins.

This was actually the second plan to free Desjardins uncovered by police.

Now at least six members of the Quebec provincial police escort Desjardins to the courthouse and back to prison, according to journalist Daniel Renaud, who wrote the breaking-news article in La Presse.

Where is the Bonanno Family in All This?

Vinny Gorgeous deliberately
promoted the Sicilian Montagna
to acting boss: Why exactly?
Around late 2005, Basciano, as if taking a page from Rusty Rastelli's reorganization of the family in the wake of the Galante slaying, stated that he was going to promote the Sicilian faction of the family, which appears to have been relegated to the position of a background crew for years; now, for the first time since the mid-1980s, Bonanno "zips" were part of the family's leadership. Montagna was recognized as the reputed acting boss of the Bonanno crime family from early 2006 until his death. Nicholas "Nicky Mouth" Santora was named underboss, Anthony Rabito consigliere.

In 2009, Montagna was detained for a 2003 conviction for illegal gambling. Then, his refusal to become a turncoat for the feds landed him five years' probation, which enabled his deportation. Montagna would've gotten his green card within five years, but the U.S. preferred he live in Canada -- or probably anywhere except here.

At the time of his death, Montagna also was suspected of trying to shake down Montreal-area construction companies utilizing rackets put in place by the Rizzuto family.

Law enforcement officials said that Montagna likely had been tricked into attending a meeting at a house located near where his body would later be found because his vehicle was eventually noticed parked on a nearby street. The house was occupied by convicted smuggler Jack Arthur Simpson.

Rizzuto's abrupt death from cancer
created a power vacuum.

As for the Bonannos, it is unclear what Basciano and Montagna were up to in terms of Montagna's efforts to install himself in a leadership position of the Montreal crime family.

Was Montagna working on his own, or was he receiving the backing of the New York Bonanno family? Some believe this not only possible but likely, considering the historical importance of Montreal (it's a cash cow) to the borgata.

Where Vito Rizzuto stood on the issue of Montagna is no secret.

As Jerry Capeci reported on the Huffington Post in 2010: "Fueled by anger over the 1999 murder of capo Gerlando (George from Canada) Sciascia on orders of then-boss Joseph Massino, the elder Nicholas Rizzuto [father to Vito, who was actually running the family; his father was expressing Vito's will, and no doubt, Nicolo's own] has been acting more and more independently in recent years. Last year, when the family's most recent street boss, Salvatore (Sal The Ironworker) Montagna, a Sicilian wiseguy with ties to onetime acting boss Vincent (Vinny Gorgeous) Basciano was deported to Canada, sources say Rizzuto let it be known that he wasn't answering to Montagna.

"He sent back word that The Ironworker was a lightweight flunky" who had been aligned with a Massino-appointed crony "and wasn't his boss," one knowledgeable source told Capeci.

Further, it has also been reported that Rizzuto stopped paying tribute to the Bonanno family (or Massino family, as Joe was trying to rename it at the time) after the unsanctioned slaying of Rizzuto lieutenant Gerlando "George from Canada" Sciascia in March 1999.

That said, Vito Rizzuto is dead, and backing a power who would be willing to put the Bonanno family back in the loop would certainly be to the New York family's favor; but what would be in such an agreement for Montreal, considering the present status of organized crime in America?

We'll have to keep checking the newspapers -- or websites, rather -- and keep an ear out for gunshots to start crackling the Montreal night.

I doubt any such gunfire would be part of an attempt to spring Raynald Desjardins from a prison transport.