RCMP Raids Montreal Mafia -- Again

Liborio Cuntrera reportedly was part of a six-member ruling panel that controlled the Montreal Mafia after Vito Rizzuto died
Rizzuto loyalist Marco Pizzi, 46, of Montreal North, was arrested in the latest coordinated Montreal takedown.

Last November, Montreal law enforcement busted up an alleged "unholy" alliance comprised of the Sicilian Cosa Nostra, the Hells Angels and a number of street gangs.

They followed that up with another raid, snagging 15 people following a probe into drug-smuggling. The focus was on a key member of the Montreal Mafia, Liborio "Pancho" Cuntrera of the Cuntrera-Caruana clan, in which most members are linked by blood. The Italian press dubbed them the "The Rothschilds of the Mafia." (The Rothschild family business of financiers is considered the wealthiest in modern world history.)

The Cuntrera-Caruana clan were a major component of the Cosa Nostra's 1980s-1990s drug trafficking operations, playing a major role in laundering illicit cash proceeds.

The clan is "a very tight knit family group of men-of-honour, not only joined by Mafia bonds, but also by ties of blood."

According to the Italian Antimafia Commission the Cuntrera-Caruana clan played a central role in international drug trafficking, extending their interests from Italy to Canada and Venezuela. (Their international reach and increasing use of bases far from Sicily angered the fiercely parochial Toto Riina and his Corleonesi.) 

Short history of Mafia Dynasty
Nicolò Rizzuto notoriously was under Calabrian Montreal boss Vic Cotroni since the late 1950s/early 1960s. During that time, he grew closer to members of the Sicilian wing, especially Luigi Greco and others from, Rizzuto's home province, many of whom had made their way to Montreal at the same time as Rizzuto, including members of the Caruana and Cuntrera families, Rizzuto's most loyal allies. Most of the clan members were from the Siculiana region.

The initial Caruana-Cuntrera Montreal wave consisted of Pasquale and Liborio Cuntrera, who arrived in Canada in 1951, before Rizzuto, and became Canadian citizens in 1957.

The Cuntreras appeared to be nothing more than hard-working immigrants. They cut hair in barbershops, worked as truck drivers, but always their eyes were on the goal of accumulating enough revenue to open storefronts, such as pizzerias, to establish drug trafficking franchises for buying and selling.

However, they were mostly renowned for their Meyer Lansky-like ability to launder dirty money and invest it in legal businesses.

Recent Montreal-based events
Liborio Cuntrera, 47, was in Italy on a recent Wednesday morning when members of the Combined Forces Special Enforcement Unit launched a raid. Cuntrera contacted the RCMP and agreed to turn himself in once he returned to Canada, one source told the media.

The RCMP arrested 13 of 15 people. One is still being sought and Cuntrera is remains in Italy.

The RCMP-led investigation was temporarily haulted in 2011 because the Mounties uncovered evidence in the Salvatore Montagna murder.

Cuntrera has long been named as a potential Rizzuto organization leader. His father, Agostino, remained loyal when the Sicilian Montreal syndicate was attacked in 2010 and 2011. Agostino's integrity likely cost him his life. In June 2010, he was shot to death outside a St-Léonard business he ran.

Liborio Cuntrera reportedly was part of a six-member ruling panel that controlled the Montreal Mafia after Vito Rizzuto died of natural causes in December 2013, after running the entity for some three decades.

Apparently, Rizzuto’s son, Leonardo, 46, and Stefano Sollecito, 48, were part of that committee. If this is true, they were incorrectly identified last November.

The younger Rizzuto and Sollecito were arrested in November in a drug trafficking investigation led by the Sûreté du Québec. At a press conference following the November arrests the SQ alleged both men were leaders in the Mafia.

An RCMP spokesperson told reporters that a total of four indictments were filed as per Project Clemenza, which targeted Rizzuto loyalists, as well as a rival group, previously run by Giuseppe "Ponytail" De Vito, who died of cyanide poisoning in a federal penitentiary in 2013.

Liborio Cuntrera faces drug trafficking charges; one concerns May 2011; while another two counts allege that he and Another two allege that he and Marco Pizzi, 46, of Montreal North, trafficked in cocaine and conspired to do the same between Sept. 28 and Oct. 6, 2011.

Another indictment seems to involve De Vito allies involved in a failed attempt to overtake the Rizzuto organization.

Ten people named in that indictment are alleged to have plotted to import and traffic in cocaine between Feb. 18 and Dec. 21, 2011.

“The network imported cocaine through the United States and used its contacts in the commercial ground transport industry,” an RCMP spokesperson said. 

“The investigation demonstrated that this (network) transported large quantities of cocaine. The American and Canadian authorities have seized more than 220 kilos of cocaine and placed their hands on (more than $2 million).”