Slaughter of Rizzuto Loyalists Continues....

Sollecito was alone in the SUV during the attack and was declared dead after being taken to a hospital.
Rocco Sollecito was formerly part of Vito Rizzuto's inner circle.

Montreal Mafia Rizzuto loyalist Rocco Sollecito, seen above, was killed last Friday in a daring daytime shooting near Montreal's Laval police headquarters.

The suspected shooter, based on police evidence, was described as in his 30s and wearing black clothes. He apparently waited at a bus stop beside a stop sign. Around 8:30 am he fired several shots through the passenger-side window of Sollecito's white BMW SUV as it halted at the stop sign.

Sollecito was alone in the SUV during the attack and was declared dead at the hospital.

The shooter appeared to know Sollecito’s morning routine; investigators also were seeking to find the driver of a vehicle that appeared to slow down beside Sollecito's SUV, then sped onward -- allegedly in the same direction in which the shooter was running.

The Bitch Called Payback
Members of Vito Rizzuto's inner circle, as well as current management, are on a death list. The list's author is unknown, and according to experts, these enemies are not the same ones who whacked Salvatore "The Iron Worker" Montagna, who've been identified: Ndrangheta clans who arrived from Siderno.

Vito Rizzuto himself placed Rocco and five others on a ruling panel to oversee the Montreal Mafia while Rizzuto was away, serving time in an American prison after former Bonanno crime family boss Joseph Massino had flipped and testified, implicating Rizzuto in a 1981 triple-slaying.

Members of the panel, however, were quickly swept off the streets in November 2006. The six men were in fact the "main players arrested" as part of Project Colisée, a Combined Forces Special Enforcement Unit investigation that targeted the Rizzuto organization's heart.

Leonardo Rizzuto, arrested last November.

All six members of the ruling panel eventually pleaded guilty -- and for their various charges, they were sentenced to prison for various lengths of time.

It was Project Colisée, coupled with Vito Rizzuto’s absence in an American prison that left the Montreal Mafia in such a weakened state that Rizzuto dissidents and Ndrangheta elements from Ontario were able to pounce, and seemingly at will leave numerous bodies on the street.

Sollecito, a longtime member of Rizzuto's inner circle (Rocco's son, Stefano, was recently identified as being on the Rizzuto organization's current ruling panel), also ran the Consenza Social Club in Saint-Léonard, which served as the Rizzuto clan's headquarters.

Even before Rizzuto became ensnared in the New York Bonanno case, he, his father, Nicolò, Sollecito, Paolo Renda and Francesco Arcadi were a tight circle. These men were the engineers of the Rizzuto group's takeover of Montreal.

Sollecito, in fact, was caught on a wiretap noting how they shared all monies that came in (this was after Vito was caught in New York; Sollecito interestingly failed to include Arcadi. At the time Sollecito was being recorded, Arcadi was serving as the clan's street boss. (They don't refer to Mafia groups as crime families in Canada.)

The Rizzuto Syndicate's Ruling Panel
Project Colisee was a three-year police investigation that resulted in guilty pleas by six men described as the Montreal Mafia's leaders.

As noted in a report about the operation:

Colisee did more than just uncover how the six men controlled a long-standing and vast criminal empire that generated millions through drug smuggling, drug trafficking and gambling out of their former offices hidden at the back of the Consenza Social Club, based in a Montreal strip mall. For the first time, police gained access to the backrooms of the club, which has since closed its doors but still exists on paper, according to the Quebec business registry. Hidden cameras and microphones essentially gave investigators a seat at the same table where the leaders made key decisions.

Anyone peering into the club’s front windows could easily have mistaken the front section for an ordinary cafe. But beyond that facade were two modest offices that served as the inner sanctum of the Rizzuto organization, in particular its four senior leaders: Nicolo Rizzuto, Paolo Renda, Rocco Sollecito and Francesco Arcadi.

If someone wanted to bend Rizzuto’s ear about a routine problem, it was discussed in the office immediately behind the cafe. The smaller office was reserved for more serious matters and for when known drug dealers who visited regularly brought in loads of cash to be split up, often in five parts, including a share for Vito Rizzuto, Nicolo’s son and the reputed head of the organization. Vito Rizzuto was behind bars - trying to avoid being extradited to the U.S. in a racketeering case - during most of the Combined Forces Special Enforcement Unit’s Project Colisee investigation.

Until November 2006, CFSEU investigators were able to listen in on the organization’s most private conversations through microphones hidden in both offices and a series of telephone wiretaps. Video cameras were also installed to provide supporting evidence.

Colisee revealed that the empire, built on the vices, addictions and weaknesses of others, brought the Mafia power they could extend into everyday life to the point where, it could be argued, the Consenza Social Club also operated as a sort of city hall where people seeking justice, protection or support for their legitimate businesses could ask for favours. ...

 The investigation also showed that members of the organization referred to themselves as “the Italians” or “the Family” but only rarely as “the Mafia.” Besides drug trafficking and gambling, they were also involved in extortion and protection rackets for businesses, and used a vast network of contacts in the legitimate business world to help cover up crimes.

It was an organization that considered its reputation as one worth protecting. In one example uncovered by Colisee, Paolo Renda was overheard on a wiretapped phone call on Nov. 22, 2005, asking Francesco Del Balso if he had found a real-estate agent who was name-dropping and claiming to have ties to the Rizzuto organization.

Del Balso initially had trouble reaching the man but got hold of him on the phone three days later. Del Balso asked the real-estate agent why he was claiming to have “friends in the Mafia.”

“Are you part of the Family?” asked the agent, sounding nervous.

“Yes, of course I am. What do you think, I’m gonna call you for a joke?” Del Balso replied.

Del Balso eventually arranged for the real estate agent to meet with the people concerned over his name-dropping.

If the case against the six leaders of the Rizzuto organization had gone to trial, Crown prosecutors Yvan Poulin and Alexandre Dalmau were prepared to present an expert witness, a brigadier-general from Italy, who would have testified that the Rizzuto organization shared the same characteristics as a Sicilian Mafia clan, including its hierarchy and vocabulary, and the role of a boss.

From bookmaking alone, the organization is estimated to have made $17.6 million in profits in less than a year - from December 2004 to November 2005. Besides the sizable quantities of drugs it smuggled into Canada, the organization also charged what its leaders referred to as “a tax” on other drug traffickers who used their contacts to smuggle in cocaine through Pierre Elliott Trudeau Airport.

During Nicolo Rizzuto and Francesco Del Balso’s bail hearing in August 2007, RCMP investigator Michel Fortin described how while the Hells Angels control most of the distribution-level of drug trafficking in Montreal - selling cocaine by the kilo - the Mafia maintains a tight grip on areas in eastern parts of the city like St. Leonard and Riviere des Prairies. Drug traffickers suspected of controlling that turf were videotaped on numerous occasions paying what appeared to be tribute (in cash) to Mafia leaders at the Consenza.

Aftermaths, Consequences
Project Colisee , coupled with Vito Rizzuto’s absence, left the organization in a weakened state.

The first of the six to go was Rizzuto’s brother-in-law, Paolo Renda, 70, abducted in May 2010. The abductors were dressed up to look like plainclothes police officers.

Renda was never seen again.

Six months later, Rizzuto’s father, Nicolo "Zio Cola" Rizzuto, 86, was killed in his home, presumably by a sniper.

We need to jump years into the future for the next hit, which took place on March 1, 2016, when Lorenzo "Skunk" Giordano, 52, was fatally shot in Laval, not far from where Sollecito was shot.

Paolo Renda, a trusted Rizzuto inlaw and inner circle member,
disappeared off face of the earth in 2010. 

Francesco (Chit) Del Balso, 46, Giordano’s close friend, and Francesco Arcadi, 62, a longtime lieutenant in the Rizzuto organization are the only two key members to have survived to the present.

Both were released earlier this year when they reached their statutory release dates (as happened with Giordano.)

But following Giordano’s murder, both men were returned to federal penitentiaries out of concern for their safety.

As for Sollecito, he'd been given a shorter sentence than Arcadi, Del Balso and Giordano. This was mostly because, based on Colisée, he seemed not to involve himself in large-scale drug trafficking.

Sollecito’s expertise was bookmaking. On Sept. 24, 2004, with the Colisée investigation well underway, police secretly recorded a conversation between Giordano and Sollecito inside the St-Léonard-based headquarters. The two mobsters lamented how the long summer had helped shrink their NHL-related bookmaking operations.

Rizzuto Organization's Fate...
In a published interview, Pierre de Champlain, author of a history of organized crime in Montreal, said Sollecito's death is part of an ongoing dismantling of the older generation of the Rizzuto crime family.
"The history of Mafia teaches us that each time that the Mafia has gone through trouble it was often due to the purposeful conflict of the old generation versus the young generation, and today the Mafia of Montreal is a perfect example," de Champlain said in an interview.

Sollecito was an "influential figure" in the Mafia who acted as a consigliere to the new alleged leaders of the Mafia, Leonardo Rizzuto and Stefano Sollecito, he said.

De Champlain said it's difficult to say who was behind the shooting, whether it was another crime family or an upstart gang, explaining that alliances have become "totally fragmented."

"It's not what it once was," he said. "It's been reduced to a simple gang."

 Author Antonio Nicaso, who wrote Business or Blood, was also interviewed:

"There is terror and fear on the street. There is no one from the old guard capable of a counter-attack." 
He says the crime family is dealing with a power vacuum. 
"The major problem is replacing Vito Rizzuto," Nicaso told CBC News. 
"There is no one with the charisma who is capable of leading the organization. There is terror and fear on the street. There is no one from the old guard capable of a counterattack. 
Nicaso thinks the violence on the streets will get worse. 
"Whoever is behind this murder is someone who wants to remove the Rizzuto crime family from the map," he said.