Why Vito Rizzuto Whacked Joe Bravo

In May 2013, the charred, bullet-riddled remains of two gangsters from Canada were found in Sicily. Italian police feared a trans-Atlantic Mafia war was brewing.

Actually, the battle was already raging. Vito Rizzuto, the Montreal Godfather who died last December, had taken care of business. Yet again. So far, the death count is pegged at more than 40, with law enforcement having recovered bodies in Montreal, Toronto, Mexico and Italy.

"Joe Bravo" Fernandez
The gangster once known as "Joe Bravo."

Wiretap recordings played at the trial of the suspected murderers explain something we've been puzzling over since May 2013: namely, did Rizzuto induct non-Italians into the Montreal Mafia?

According to published reports concerning wiretap recordings released following the discovery of the bodies in Sicily, Rizzuto had apparently permitted the "making" of men not of Italian descent, breaking a cardinal rule as old as the Sicilian Cosa Nostra.

One of the bodies found (after an anonymous tipster phoned police) was that of Juan Ramon Fernandez Paz, aka "Joe Bravo." He and his associate, Fernando Pimentel, were slain in a hail of bullets, then the assassins burned the bodies in an attempt to make them disappear.

"Fernandez was born in Spain in 1956 but grew up in Canada and earned a ferocious reputation on the streets of Quebec and Ontario," Adrian Humphreys recently wrote for the National Post. "When the Montreal Mafia took control of Ontario’s underworld in 2001, Vito Rizzuto, Canada’s top mob boss, sent Fernandez as his point man. Fernandez attracted and frightened people in equal measure. He once punched his 17-year-old girlfriend so hard she died. One gangster in Toronto shook so much when meeting Fernandez in a café that a ceramic espresso cup in his hand clattered against its saucer."

Fernandez slipped back into Canada several times after getting booted out for Mafia-related crimes. But in 2012, Fernandez had had enough and sought to stake his claim in Sicily, where he partnered with Pietro Scaduto, another Canadian gangster who also had been deported from Canada. Scaduto also was one of the men who is said to have murdered Joe Bravo.

Raynald Desjardins, arrested in December 2011 for the murder
of Salvatore "The Iron Worker" Montagna.

After arriving in Palermo, Fernandez regularly met with local Cosa Nostra bosses as he went about setting up his own criminal operation (drugs). Turns out, he never had a chance of escaping law enforcement, though ultimately he was murdered before Italian police nabbed him.  "... Fernandez went from unknown man of mystery to being one of Sicily’s most monitored residents. Police secretly wiretapped his phones, his friends’ phones, his car, home and even the street outside his apartment. Video cameras monitored his hangouts and all of it was watched from a wire room in the secure ROS headquarters," as the National Post story noted.

He once punched his 17-year-old girlfriend so hard she died. One gangster in Toronto shook so much when meeting Fernandez in a café that a ceramic espresso cup in his hand clattered against its saucer."

He was caught laughing while voicing moronic phrases like: “This is the Mafia’s city. I’m in a completely Mafia city." 

Fernandez used Rizzuto's name all over Sicily when it benefited him, as published reports noted: "Most perplexing, to both police and mobsters, was Fernandez’s insistence on being treated as a “man of honour” in Sicily. As a non-Italian, he could not be a “made” member of the Mafia according to the mob’s centuries-old tradition. But Fernandez claimed he was an exception; along with his long-time friend, Quebecer Raynald Desjardins, he claimed Vito Rizzuto had inducted him into the Mafia."

One conversation caught on tape:

Declaring that Mr. Rizzuto “makes the f–king rules” regardless of what Mafia bosses in Sicily thought, Mr. Fernandez asserted his right to sit at the table with other “men of honour.”
“Vito ‘made’ me and my compare, Raynald,” Mr. Fernandez is heard saying on a wiretap, a reference to being officially inducted into the Mafia, a right previously reserved for Italians.
“You’re not Italian,” said the surprised man he was speaking with.
“No, no. Me and my compare,” Mr. Fernandez insisted, were “made” men despite their lineage.

The revelation that Rizzuto was inducting non-Italians is fiction; though we certainly can't prove this to a moral certainty, does it make an iota of sense that the boss of the entire Montreal Mafia would induct non-Italians into his crime family?

Fernandez, it seems, didn't understand the implications of saying he'd been inducted into a crime family.

He seems to have been simply trying to talk his way to a seat at the table.

Only clear common sense dictates that Joe Bravo's bizarre claim was fabricated. Rizzuto would've been risking everything--literally everything--if he'd inducted into his organization men who quite clearly were not Italians. (Of course we've heard stories about New York crime families inducting non-Italians, but in those isolated cases, the "members" carry/carried Italian-sounding names and also are/were bringing in big money.)

Joe Bravo's undoing resulted from his alliance with Desjardins, a leader of a faction that sought to take control of Montreal's underworld from Rizzuto. Fernandez only attained status in the Canadian Mafia because of Desjardins, who was once part of Rizzuto's inner circle. The French-Canadian Raynald and the Sicilian mob boss even lived near each other. The relationship between Rizzuto and Desjardins appears to have soured after Desjardins was nabbed for narcotics trafficking in a case that surprisingly never ensnared Rizzuto.

In his mob heyday in Canada, Fernandez's key role was serving as emissary to outside groups associated with the Rizzuto Cosa Nostra family; the Hells Angels motorcycle club was among the criminal affiliates.

A few short years after Rizzuto's U.S. imprisonment, his organization was fighting a bloody street war as Desjardins and others, including Salvatore "The Iron Worker" Montagna, vied for control of Montreal's underworld. In time, relationships soured and Montagna, former acting boss of the Bonanno crime family, allegedly tried to have Desjardins executed. Desjardins survived and extracted revenge. He remains in jail for the Montagna murder.

Bravo served as emissary to the Hells Angels for the Montreal
Mafia, then run by Vito Rizzuto.

Once Rizzuto was released, he tested the loyalty of his men. As the Montreal mob boss organized his revenge against those disloyal to him as well as key members of the rival faction, Joe Bravo in Palermo expressed his “love” for Rizzuto, according to wiretaps.

But to his close friends, he sang a different tune. Desjardins was his “compare," who allowed his entry into the Mafia's hierarchy.

“I know both sides, you know? I’m stuck in the middle of these guys,” Fernandez lamented

As the piles of bodies rose ever higher, Fernandez grew uncharacteristically afraid.

As noted in How Rizzuto Got His Revenge, Mafia-Style, Rizzuto sent for various members of his family to meet him in Cuba and the Dominican Republic; those who were invited but failed to attend were summarily murdered.

Fernandez frequently spoke with a man identified in court as Frank Campoli, 58, a Toronto businessman who is related by marriage to the Rizzuto family. Mr. Campoli said Rizzuto was planning a trip to Cuba on Nov. 22 and asked Fernandez to come...
“Yes, I’ll come, I’ll come,” said Fernandez. 
Fernandez then immediately called a friend in Toronto, identified in court as Rosario Staffiere, 55, owner of a limousine rental firm, and told him of his conversation. 
“He wanted to put me to the test,” Fernandez said. “He wanted to know if I still want to see him [Rizzuto], and I said ‘Yes, of course.’” 
Then, he added with a laugh: “Take a shot in the f—ing head? Of course I’m going to see him.”

But he didn't see Vito; he didn't accept the invitation.

So he died.


  1. I think some guys who were loyal to both Rizzuto and Desjardins had to pick a side, they didn't think Rizzuto, coming off a 10 yr stint and already under attack, had the power to win. They picked wrong.

  2. I.ll say. Philly

  3. Joe Bravo was saying some serious shit about Rizzuto making non Italians; I think you're right, everyone wrote Vito off while in prison but I don't buy the "my compare" crap... Vinny B was "compares" with George Sciascia... when he learned George was doomed he borrowed hundreds of thousands off the guy!!

  4. I read an article a couple months back about this guy claiming to be "made", I don't buy it for a minute. No way Vito would break that big of a rule.

    Ed, when you think about the power Rizzuto had, killing people in 3 different countries, taking out his enemies like he did.....was he more powerful than the boss of the bonanno family?? I know you said he kicked up to the family (maybe except to massino) , but I can't imagine guys in new york even in the same league as this guy. Just my opinion

    How big is the "Rizzuto Family" ?

  5. This guy Rizzuto had more power and connections than most the five families' in mexico sicily and italy and if u dig deeper probably the Russian boys thats saying something And having the Hell.s Angels who are worldwide move drugs does see get any better its a shame he couldnt live longer to see it come full circle again. Philly

  6. I once wrote he had a thousand shooters on several continents and I was mocked. I believe what remains of the Rizzuto family, which now straddles both Montreal and Ontario is going to have its work cut out for it to retain power. At the same time I think the Hells Angels are aligned with the Sicilian Cosa Nostra family (Ducarme was likely killed by bikers, which lend support to that notion). I think as Dominick said in the ebook that Rizzuto was angry with Massino. Vito made his fortune in drugs. He was essentially a major drug dealer. Why deny himself entre into the world's premier market --the U.S. -- when he had Basciano, a good friend to Sciascia, with whom he could bypass Massino? It'd be like cutting off his nose to spite his face. I know one Montreal gangster suggested in the 1990s that Massino should "let them go"... he disappeared, forever.... it's in a 302 I have. I will explore that further.....

  7. Well to be specific the work that remains for the rizzuto loyalists is to kill off every single traiter they believe is in there midst. They also have to create new business and political connections because of the recent govt commision. Once they finish the damage control, things will get back to normal. Maybe they will try to abide by vitos wish and to get revenge on joey massino. Why would vito just stop at the people in canada and not the major source of his problems aka massino?

  8. How big is the Rizzuto Family is a very easy answer, they controlled a whole country, Canada, plus parts of Sicily. The Bonano Crime Family is almost a "neighborhood thing" as they control certain small enclaves in the NYC Metro area, plus have a crew operating in S.Florida, that is mostly incarcerated.
    I know this will be hard to believe, but Vito did make the two non-Italians, Raynald Desjardines, & "Joe Bravo" This came from a confirmed source, a made guy in Toronto, as I was shocked to initially hear it myself, that is why I asked my connection in Toronto, because of my disbelief that Vito would violate "the code" But he did.
    Another guy Vito whacked when he got home from prison, Joe DiMaulo, was the brother in law of Desjardines, and it was at Joe's suggestion,and urging that Desjardines was approved to be made, and also Joe Bravo at a latter date.
    Why did Bravo get whacked, cause he "rode the fence" in between his loyalty to Desjardines and Vito, and with Vito you were either "all in or the enemy" As the enemy Joe Bravo wrote his own death warrent, and Vito just carried it out.
    Remember, the wealth Vito Rizzuto attained is unfathomable, and that power and financial lavage he controlled truly made Vito Rizzuto regain control after he returned from the U.S. Federal Prison System.
    Hope this helped.

  9. I don't know dude. This is your first and only comment on this blog...I can't believe Vito would make non Italians into his family....I'm just speaking for myself. The Rizzutos are Sicilians who rose to power fighting Calabrians. Blood, birthplace are important to them. I think the American Mafia would do it before the Canadiens. The U.S. Mafia has inducted non Italians but in the one case I know of, the guy had changed his name or had a name that sounded Italian, I can't remember which. My point being: they still hid it.

  10. Can you give us more detail? Why would he make them?
    Mob associated guys can still become powerful and immensely wealthy even when they are not made (Dorfman, Humphreys in Chicago). Seems very convenient for Fernandez in Sicily.

  11. My guy in Toronto that is "made" told me Vito's father was stone against it, and Vito did it as a favor to the then powerful Joe DiMaulo, now the dead Joe DiMaulo, dead on orders from Vito. Also, he wanted to "protect them" so they were under Vito's thumb, was what my guy in Toronto told me was the only thought of a possible explanation. My guy in Toronto was a appalled that he made those two. It shocked me that he did, specially from an old school
    guy like Vito, born in Sicily, and raised by in the "life and tradition" By the way, they were inducted during the time period of Domenico Manno being in Federal prison in the U.S. You know Domenico would have never approved of making anyone not ethically not correct.

  12. They were not made, they were associates with power because of their relationships with Vito and once they turned on him they had no protection and both would have been killed anyway after Vito died. Vito had power but he still answered to the Bonanno family who are not just a "neighborhood thing" as someone said earlier

  13. Well technical if you were born in the US that makes you a American. So technical the mob in the US is mostly Americans of Italian descent(Blood,ancestry, etc....). The reason why most Zips don't accept the mob in the US is because they think they're Americans which technical they are.

  14. Is there Cosa Nostra in Toronto??

  15. Hells Yes!!!! Toronto, Hamilton, in Southern Ontario -- that was run by five-six Calabrian families until Vito Rizzuto manipulated some nobodies, two brothers, into hiring a junkie to whack Johnny Pops Papalia (yes, the spelling was corrected in the print version, with other small corrections; a revised ebook will be issued soon to. Nothing major -- I ID'd two guys in the wrong family, some typos. That book was put together too quickly, I realized). Anyway the big trick in Canada was to control both Montreal and the GTA. which the Rizzuto Mafia family did. Now, those towns were like the Wild West. This is all in the ebook; in 1931 the Commission allowed Bonanno to move into Montreal and Magaddino was given Toronto and Hamilton (waterfront towns in Southern Ontario. Montreal is part of Quebec.) The Luppino family was Magaddino's power in S. Ontario; Bonanno had Calabrians in Montreal at first, but Nicolo Rizzuto went to war in the 1970s and took over. The Bonannnos gave him the power. The killings in Canada's Mafia today are a sequel to the earlier war in the 1970s. I recently was able to order a book I've wanted for years --it was for sale at $5 on Amazon -- it has been around $150.... Has a TON of information....It is a dense work filled with names. Maybe I should do a full-length book on Canada.....

  16. I agree but when Vito got out of prison in 2012, I don't think he answered to anybody. He was a man on a mission: he wanted to clean house in the final year of his life and get revenge,,,

  17. Di Maulo was Calabrian. If he wanted to make them -- then I'd have to assume that Di Maulo was remade as a Cosa Nostra member? Sounds a bit odd. Di Maulo at first was fighting the Rizzutos in the 1970s too..... I have an open mind but I'd need more.... Let's continue this....

  18. A Gambino... I have his name written in my notes. I will write it up as a story.....

  19. I wonder if they knew he had cancer; Vito knew. Maybe they thought the cancer would get him first.....

  20. The American Mafia was made up of Sicilians, Neapolitans, Calabrians and other Italians.... It's not like another version or an outpost of the Sicilian Mafia, it never was. Rather guys got together, did stuff, made allies before larger historical forces went to work on them. I've been reading Repetto and he makes a good case that the Mafia actually mimicked in structure the American political system more so than Maranzano's Roman Legionnaires.

  21. Jimmy -- check this out: http://www.cosanostranews.com/2014/04/giacomo-luppino-last-of-canadas-old.html

  22. Ed, Joe DiMaulo, as a Calabrian, was absorbed into the Rizzuto Crime Family after they took over from the Calabrian Cortoni Family after the war of 1977-1980 because of a powerful relationship DiMaulo had developed within the NY Bonano Family, that actually controlled Montreal at that the time thru 2005. And that's why DiMaulo had his own power base, and maintained his power throughout, till Vito put him away as soon as Vito came back from prison.
    Joe DiMaulo was the power in Montreal that teamed up and with the powerful Salvatore Montagna, with Raynald Desjardines, DiMaulo's brother in law, was DiMaulo's "guy on the streets" to try and grab control while Vito was away. And that's how it went down, till Montagna attempted to whack Desjardines, then Desjardines successfully returned the favor. Why did Montagna go after Desjardines, because he himself found Raynald to intrusive, considering Montagna was the acting boss of the Bonano before being deported, and that Desjardine was not actually eligible to really be made, but was! That's why Montagna never attempted to go after DiMaulo, just Desjardine, because Montagna respected DiMaulo's relationship with the Bonano's in NY.

  23. Ed, if your thinking it was "German" Joe Watts, the answer is he was never made, was in John Gotti's inter-circule, had his own crew, but was never made, because not Italian.

  24. hey ed been reading your blog daily for a couple of years now, and love it never felt like leaving a comment but hearing u guys talk about the canadian mafia makes me cringe at times. ive lived in montreal, woodbridge ont and now toronto. being half italian and having a uncle who represents these guys in court, i know a few things..Di Maulo and montreal members were made under LCN american mafia(bonanno fam). Calabrians in ontario are traditional italian organized crime N'dragehta. will post some interesting info when done work...keep up the good work ed

  25. from what i was told vito just gave them made men standing in montreal, i doubt vito would have approved Ray running around Sicily calling himself a made men..just because someone has the same privilges as a made man within a certin group does not mean they have that standing everywhere else

  26. Thanks!! I'd definitely appreciate your comments!

  27. Carlo De Lucca ´Corazza´.Nov 28, 2014, 2:36:00 PM

    As I always said, real power is when you can snap your fingers and bodies start to appear all over. Moreno Gallo, who was calabrese, was killed in Acapulco. Now, keep in mind, that the infamous Zetas rule Acapulco, so either Rizzutto partner with them asking a favor or, he did it directly. Take your pick. He was a real boss. That is power: 2 on the chest, one in the side of the head. Killers got really close Gallo.

  28. you talking about ICED history of canadian organized crime good book

  29. I think it's a good possibility Desjardins knew it and thought that was his chance to take the big seat . ..i think that info, plus the fact that he was away and his family was getting killed off caused many to write him off. What baffles me is this Desjardins character, I can see why montagna wanted him killed. Sal montagna was at least an acting boss of a family, AND ITALIAN!!

  30. they say gallo even attented the meeting in domincan with vito..so it looks like even if u were there u werent safe...vito was respected even by his enemies so his word was law when he was on the streets. as soon as he left there was no one respected enough to take control...plus ive heard first hand from people in montreal that Arcadi who took over as street boss was very arogant and disliked.

  31. Ed, you may be thinking of an old timer who is now dead whose last name was Moro . I think his mother was Irish. He was based on Mott street or Hester many moons ago.

  32. The zetas wouldn't allow a hit of that magnitude without giving the ok. Those cartel guys have eyes and ears everywhere in mexico.

  33. Gallo was at the meeting in DR, no question. Gallo didn't need to hook up with the Dimaulo/Desjardines side, he was wealthy, his stupidity and or greed took over, then it was over as the Canadian Government departed Gallo, then Vito ended his life.

  34. Charles De LuccaNov 28, 2014, 6:16:00 PM

    And what makes a Cartel to give the ´ok´? The respect you have for the other one. Right? The point that I find out interesting is that, Gallo was killed at close distance. Great job.

  35. it would be out of respect and also avoid creating a new enemy. Vito's style was to make deals so everyone can coexist and earn. In that way everyone was earning money, killings were reduced heavily to avoid extra law eforcement attention. Also not to provoke the legislature to enact more draconian laws.

  36. I think when galante was on the street 1977 when he was inducted all the guys massino spero lefty ect he called nick rizzuti and told him come down to nyc with all your guys and he inducted them all. this was pre 9/11 the borders wernt tight. bring the car down with some herion and lets build a family. did cicale say if massino was inducting the montreal guys in the 90tys. read George s was a capo with only 1 soldier in the us baldo amato. would love to read the book but don't have kindle. frank lino said he was made in oct 77 his bday with 11 others some zips. they havd the ceromy in itailian.

  37. You mean Andy Merola. His name was Andy Knapik but Jackie Nose made him legally change his name before they made him. I think Knapik was either his stepfathers name or he was adopted one of the two but I do know he is Italian the other families would never have let the Gambinos make him if he wasn't.

  38. Actually I meant The Canadian Connection https://www.amazon.com/dp/0888900406/ref=cm_sw_r_awd_lxQEub0QWBCDV

    I think I have ICED....

  39. Ont, who has the power in the Rizzuto family?

  40. Well the actual rizzuto family at the moment is a bunch of women and his son the lawyer(sure you already know this). Ext Fam u got Rocco.S and Domenico Manno but i dont think Manno has real power, hes old and fresh out( good adviser tho!), theres also the young gen like pino cuntrea, killing a cuntrea is a big deal on its its own(caurana cuntrea fam is very interesting!).but as far as a real power ed not sure! Like vito said before they took him to the usa, hes the only one who can keep the peace, fuck was he right! there is many who lost family who were waiting for vito to start the payback and im sure there gonna finish it now, carmine verduci was the last and there will be more i think! As for people in montreal i think everybody wants to go back to money, so from what i hear there will be a bunch of different groups who come together to iron shit out when needed, no more big figure head! but really what the hell do i know!!

  41. LOL! There will be more indeed! Look at my top story--unless it is not connected to the mob war .... who knows for sure? The papers seem to think it is.... I don't think there is someone with Vito's charisma who can forge alliances like he did..... I have seen different names on blogs, but in the mainstream Canadian press, I don't see any particular name bandied around in the newspapers as the "boss".... Thanks -- for all your comments!! This one (along with 8 others) got stuck in the hopper; I apologize for that.....

  42. Johnny I appreciate you commenting too - sorry if I overlooked this.... I may not agree with one of your opinions but I still appreciate your adding your voice....Maybe you're right and Vito did induct these guys -- it is just a hard pill to swallow... There is no precedent and a guy like Vito, who was a master of relationships, I don't think would needlessly piss off a lot of dangerous people by breaking the rules like that... Please keep commenting......

  43. Ed, question for you, why would a "made guy" from Toronto, whom is a very close friend and associate of mine for many years tell me those two were made if they really weren't, as he himself was disgusted of the fact they were made. When "Bravo" got whacked my guy said to me "very good, one down and one to go" I believe Vito was so powerful, he did basically what he wanted to, no matter what NY said. Look how powerful he was, out of prison only for the last 13 months of his life, and multiple guys whacked in Montreal, 3 in Toronto, 2 in Sicily, 1 in Mexico, and they're still dying, like one today, and Vito has been dead one year, and they're still getting whacked, it's called "Vito's orders from the grave" Don't forget, Desjardine and his minions, all in jail now awaiting trial, they're on "Vito's orders from the grave" list, being carried out by Domenico Manno, Vito's uncle and the new boss. Remember this, Domenico is as ruthless and revengeful as Vito. Promise.

  44. Good point. What was your friend's rank? Soldier? Do they organize it like that up in Canada? Maybe word went around incorrectly. Look at Donnie Brasco, how much he learned as an associate of Lefty's -- that was wrong.

  45. Ed, can't tell you for fear of him being identified, was from Sicily originally, and made there, and does process the power to also do business with the Toronto based Calabrian's. He's very low key type, under the radar, well respected "in the know" but not a media "household name" Never been arrested in North America, only in Sicily.

  46. One way or another this guy would have gotten whacked. Can you imagine what was going through the Sicilians minds with this guy walking around demanding to be treated like a made man? That's like a priest trying to give communion to ISIS.

  47. They got eyes and ears in Mexico, but in Chicago all they got is eyes as some of their ears were chopped off.

  48. Here is a little bit of info i think will be both useful and insightful in light of yesterdays exercise of loyality to Rizzuto executed by those who still remain true to a man who spoke through action and results. There is word that one of the next predecessors to fill some very large shoes will be someone who has been recently released from an Ontario prison and who currently resides with this province. A younger yet intelligent and cunning individual who can control and maintain influence and respect across the country and beyond. Keep in mind, this is not set in stone or concrete but is definitely one of the options for the boys in Montreal.


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