Bonanno's Plan Kept the Peace in Canada's Mafia

The Mafia in America evolved into one organization linked to the Sicilian Cosa Nostra, though from its inception it was composed of former members of all Italy's Mafias, including the Calabrian Ndrangheta and Neapolitan Camorra.

Likely due to immigration trends, Canada is composed of two distinct Mafia organizations, the Sicilian Cosa Nostra and the Calabrian Ndrangheta.

Stefano Magaddino appointed Giacomo Luppino
to be his representative, among others.

 The American Mafia did business with both groups, apparently not noticing the difference or using any rivalries to manipulate the territory.

The American Mafia's Commission in 1931 decreed how Canada would be carved up. Quebec, including the key city of Montreal, fell under the purview of Joseph Bonanno. Southern Ontario, including Toronto and the waterfront steel-making town of Hamilton, were placed under the control of Bonanno's cousin, Stefano Magaddino.

(Canada's crime families were historically subservient to their American brethren, though today this has changed; relationships likely still exist if they are mutually beneficial; in fact we'd wager the Mafia in Canada, including both the Ndrangheta and Cosa Nostra, is larger and more powerful than the American Mafia. Chalk it up to American law enforcement; the RCMP (Royal Canadian Mounted Police) need a Canadian version of the RICO act, it would seem.)

Paolo Violi, slain Ndrangheta chief in Montreal.

There were great benefits to having affiliated mobsters in Canada during Prohibition, when crime families made fortunes. Following Repeal, narcotics replaced booze.

Carmine Galante, the mental dullard with the low IQ, was among the first to recognize the vital benefit Canada -- specifically, Montreal -- provided the narcotics trade; he was consumed with a passion to capitalize on his discovery until his brutal gangland death on Knickerbocker Ave. in the mid-1970s. Galante had been using his connections in Canada to control the importation of drugs to America for distribution on the streets of New York and other major cities in the country. But he didn't want to share. End of Galante.

In the 1950s, after Galante went to Montreal to "organize" things, Bonanno appointed a two-man panel to oversee his interests; he favored Ndrangheta boss Vic Cotroni and named the Sicilian Cosa Nostra boss Luigi Greco as Cotroni's lieutenant.

Bonanno "gave Cotroni the edge," as Lee Lamothe and Adrian Humphrey's reported in "The Sixth Family."

This balance of power by Bonanno established two decades of peace and prosperity.

As for Magaddino's Ontario group, he named Giacomo Luppino as the Buffalo crew's long time representative, as noted in Andre Cedilot and Andre Noel's "Mafia Inc.: The Long, Bloody Reign of Canada's Sicilian Clan.

Giacomo's term also was long and stable. In Southern Ontario, perhaps even to a greater extent than in Montreal, there was a precarious balance of power due to all the crime families and other organized crime rings riddling the area, especially the key port town of Hamilton. Giacomo was more of a negotiator, and a not very violent boss. Luppino had many children, but none ever rose far in the criminal underworld. The most well known of them was Vincenzo, who died a natural death and never saw the inside of a jail cell.

Luppino was well-respected. Consider that violence for control of Southern Ontario didn't commence until Giacomo's death, at age 88, in 1987, when Johnny "Pops" Papalia assumed control.

It was then that the third family in Hamilton, the Musitanos, worked with Rizzuto family boss Vito when he first tried to consolidate power there in the late 1990s. Rizzuto was, in fact, closely involved with the hits on the Papalia family, so close that one of his right hand men was seen by law enforcement meeting with Musitano family leaders after each of three key hits went down in the late 1990s. Among the killed: Johnny "Pops" himself.

Afterward, Vito himself was seen meeting with Musitano boss Pat.

All three of the key families in Hamilton -- the Luppinos, Papalias and Musitanos -- were Calabrian Ndrangheta clans. Still, Pat Musitano, boss of the family in the late 1990s, "fell in with Vito Rizzuto," the Sicilian Cosa Nostra boss.

Joseph Bonanno

Consolidation of power in Southern Ontario and Montreal was the prize Vito Rizzuto coveted.

Paolo Violi, who played a lead role in the Montreal battles and was in the best position to create an ongoing legacy for Giacomo Luppino, arrived in Canada in 1951 at age 20. In 1955 he killed another Calabrian, Natale Brigante, in what was determined by law enforcement to be "self-defense" following a parking lot altercation. It may have in fact been a hit ordered in Calabria. (Natale had pulled a knife and stabbed Violi in the chest; Violi unleashed four shots into his opponent, according to the police report. While Violi was not charged, the police believed Natale had been the victim of a sanctioned hit, a settling of a vendetta begun in Calabria.)

And so Violi established his bona fides by murdering for his Mafia family. He was then taken under the wing of the Luppino boss, Giacomo, who had been friends with Violi's father, who settled in the U.S., near Cleveland. Violi had eyes on eventually running the show; Giacomo likely saw him as a possible heir to the throne, especially when Violi married Luppino's daughter, Grazia, in 1965.

Violi had by then moved to Montreal to help back Vic Cotroni, the Calabrian boss in Montreal who had decided he needed more Ndrangheta support when his "partner" Greco formed an alliance with Nicolo Rizzuto.

Magaddino had every reason to be furious; one of his key people in Ontario had hauled up shop and journeyed to Montreal to work for his cousin, Bonanno. He "was not well pleased," with Violi's actions but the venerable Giacomo Luppino reassured him, noting that Paolo's move would not unsettle things in Ontario.

And he was correct, at least during both their lifetimes, Giacomo's and Magaddino's.

Violi gradually eclipsed all the Cotroni lieutenants, including the Sicilian Luigi Greco. He was an old school mobster who did not want to traffic in drugs -- "stick with stealing; it's safer," is the advice he gave to one low-level mobster who approached him seeking finance for a drug deal.

The concept of respect also was very important to Violi; he never ceased complaining to American bosses that one Sicilian refused to respect him -- Nicolo Rizzuto, a man who eventually became very popular with the same American Cosa Nostra bosses to whom Violi complained.

The opposition between Vic Cotroni/Paolo Violi and Nicolo Rizzuto hardened when Rizzuto struck out on his own in places like Venezuela. He lost sight of the fact that he was viewed by his Montreal counterparts as a soldier of the Bonanno family under an appointed boss (Cotroni) and that it was his duty to report to his boss.

Violi was loyal to Cotroni and saw himself as taking over for the boss when the boss stepped down. The problem was Nick Rizzuto had no desire to play second fiddle.

That is the foundation that led to the eventual turmoil in Montreal between the Sicilians and the Calabrians. The war got hot and bodies began dropping after Cotroni sought permission from the Bonannos to kill Nicolo Rizzuto. They declined to support this move, then told Nicolo what was going on.

Don Luppino comes back into the picture after the murder of Paolo Violi in 1977.

Violi was dining with companions when an assassin burst into the restaurant and blew his head off with a lupara, the double-barrelled sawed-off shotgun favored by Sicilian Cosa Nostra members seeking to permanently solve a problem.

In 1980, Paolo's brother, Rocco, was deported from America. The Rizzutos viewed him as a potential threat, even though in America there was one Cosa Nostra that all Italians belonged to by then, whether of Sicilian, Calabrian or even Neapolitan descent. Rocco even had shown fealty to the Gambino family before his deportation by attending the funeral of Carlo Gambino.

The Rizzutos still took him out.

While Rocco ate dinner with his family in Saint-Leonard, a borough of Montreal, a sniper's bullet tore into his head and ended him in front of his horrified family. (This is exactly how Nicolo Rizzuto would die decades later. Coincidence? In the Mafia there are few coincidences...)

The widows and children of the slain Violi brothers packed up and moved under the warm, protective umbrella of Don Giacomo Luppino, where his Hamilton Mafia was still keeping the peace in that region of Canada.

"The last of Canada’s old-style Mafia godfathers" died in 1987, at age 88.

"Pops" Papalia, who then assumed control, had two lieutenants: Enio "Pegleg" Mora and Carmen Barillaro.

In the 1990s, Mora borrowed $7.2 million from Vito Rizzuto, giving the bulk of it to Johnny Papalia and Carmen Barillaro. When Vito start inquiring about repayment of the loan, he was ignored. (The loan is convenient; one wonders if Vito knew it wouldn't be paid back and used this as his pretense for a larger strategy.)

The violence, the real violence, commenced on Sept. 11, 1996. Pegleg Mora was shot four times in the head at point blank range after pulling his gold-colored Cadillac into the driveway of his farm in north Toronto.

Thus, did the Rizzutos launch their first attack on Southern Ontario.

Luppino's sons never outgrew their father's shadow. After the Don's natural death, Vincenzo became less active within the family. Orders were even given to kill Luppino and his brothers; the plans were aborted for reasons unknown. This is according to Ken Murdock, the hit man who pulled off the three Papalia hits for Rizzuto and Musitano, during an interview in 1999.

Vincenzo Luppino, the most high profile of the sons, who'd been a Papalia associate, led an uneventful criminal life, likely dabbling in small-time crime. He died on July 13, 2009, at the age of 83. His funeral was well attended, with about 350 mourners, including members of the Hells Angels.

Luppino was never convicted but two of his brothers were imprisoned for 1982 crimes.


  1. A lot of Greed with them old timers and the younger ones use revenge as the key to moving up the killing will never stop there the rules are different and the laws there are different therefore no compromising till that changes a lot more people will die till the Government comes up with some kind of law like rico that we have here. That.s the only way that gets fixed. No matter who gets stronger turmoil will always be the problem till this things are put in place. Even Ray Charles could see that and he was blind. GREED AND REVENGE THE BIG PROBLEM HERE. PHILLY

  2. I think the guy who comments on here Bronson Charlie said it best in another article the me me me factor is at work here. Philly

  3. Vito Rizzuto's loan to mora was brilliant. Taking advantage of the fact he couldn't pay it back in order to gain more power. Kind of reminds me how the big banks giving out all those loans to people they knew couldn't pay it back in order to gain more power in the us economy. Gangsters and Banksters, same strategy just different tactics on how to achieve the goals they desire..

  4. And I think it is obvious why the Bonannos switched their allegiance. Cotroni was legitimately against narcotics trafficking while that was the Rizzuto family's key focus.

  5. vito was also very smart by having a good relationship with the commisso family there was even a marriage between them..the commisso family is the most slept on family cause they truly stay under the radar. just like u supposed to!

  6. Who are the Commisso family??

  7. I'll cover them next. There is a lot of details involved. I'm simplifying as much as I can. Nicolo met with Galante, who may have okayed the hit on Violi, for example. There are several major Mafia families that supported the Rizzutos....

  8. A powerful clan of the Ndrangheta. The 'ndrina is based in Siderno (I wrote an entire story on them - use the custom search engine to look for "Siderno") -- they have an outpost in the GTA ( Greater Toronto Area). They would be a key ally if they are still tied to the Montreal Cosa Nostra but I don't know... may Ont can help here? Ont?

  9. Ont -- Are the Commisso's still allied with the Montreal Cosa Nostra organization (formerly described by me as the Rizzuto family?)

  10. There are a total of 7 Calabrian and Sicilian clans that are recognized and organized families in GTA and Hamilton. At times, when convenient, they have been known to work together.
    Also, Murdock didn't kill Peg leg Mora, the guy that killed Mora was from Vito's hometown back in Sicily, his name Giacinto Arcuri, whom was arrested for the murder, but Arcuri was found not guilty at trial. Murdock was a junkie, the old adage "you never believe a junkie" surely applies to Murdock.
    I hope this helps.

  11. Tired of all these slogans - the last this, the last that. Someone will fill the void. In regards to the USA, I can't consider an American born boss a real godfather. Think about it. Was Gotti really a godfather? Mob boss suits Gotti. The godfathers come from the other side

  12. I got that from the book on Johnny Pops Papalia by Adrian Humphreys. He goes into a lot of detail actually....

  13. Ed, Google Arcuri, not "jr" he died a natural death, but the father, now in his early 80's, lives in Toronto, a lot of good reading on him. He was the killer, but was found innocent. I remember when it happened, 12 year old Sicilian kids in the Italian enclaves in GTA knew that Arcuri did Peg Leg Mora. They made it obvious, for redemption, because Mora was boasting around about grabbing Vito for the 7.2 million. Not too smart. All three got done in by their greed, gall, and stupidity.

  14. Ed, did you read up on Arcuri yet, very powerful, highly respected globally. Truly a "hands on" guy! I have more knowledge, Canada/U.S/Sicily than Adrian Humphreys, and I'm suppose to!

  15. Ed, did you have the opportunity to Google that guy Arcuri? And if so what do you think now?

  16. Truth is the old way of doing things is over
    the old guys are dead ' jail ' crippled or senile.
    And my age the 50 and up crew in italy' Sicily'
    or the US arent fit to be boss.s let alone a Godfather they dont get u have to share the wealth to succeed in this bussiness and to many just wanna enjoy the moment that.s how i see it anyway Philly

  17. It's the changing of a generation, the times and circumstances. You can replenish the old neighborhoods with today's Italians and it still wouldn't be the same.

  18. vito had an alliannce with the commissos up to his arrest and im sure they hade nothing to do with the rebellious faction,when vito came home im sure they told him they hade nothing to with it, there smart enough and strong enough on there own thats why vito teamed up with them and was able to move in the gta.. there are 7 recognized ndrina clans in the gta not sicilian, the scilians may work with them but have nothing to do with ndrina, guys like peter scarcella, arcuri ( very old) have there own crews..even though verduci and sam calutti were close to the commissos they hade to pay, verduci was seen in mtl during the killing and crazy calutti was bragging about killing nick sr, a high rank in ndrina couldnt save them the smart ones knew that. high ranking members of the rizzutos were seen in the gta before those murders, so im sure certin people seen the picture clearly...anyways ed this is my last post it worries me leaving these posts(dont know shit about the net and tracking)and i feel like shit writing these, the commisso bros got me a cake on my 13th bday cause of my uncles leagle help and i see these guys at my buddys restaurant in woodbridge a couple times a year. if u grow up in woodbridge you are gonna see these guys in cafes and restaurants, my brother even knew joe bravo cause he worked at his his favorite social club/cafe.. anyways ed love the site, but unless i can leave private posts ill see ya later.

  19. No one screws with Arcuri, ever, he's very powerful, all the way back to Sicily. Old school, a "real mobster" in every way. Never bet against Jacinto, a real survivor.

  20. Sure you can leave private posts... are you having problems? Shoot me an email if you can ( not sure what you mean about privacy....?

  21. Not yet, was quite busy... I will now....

  22. thats mean cosa nostra have no loyalty with each other!!!!!


Post a Comment