Big Mafia Takedown Presents a First: Undercover Agent Videotaped Being Inducted Into Bonanno Family

Giuseppe (Joe) Violi, right, Domenico (Dom) Violi, sons of Paolo Violi.

Early last Thursday morning, following coordinated raids in New York City and within and beyond the GTA, 13 alleged members of organized crime were arrested as part of "a sweeping investigation into the fentanyl trade," the RCMP said.

Four mobsters tied to the Gambino and Bonanno families were arrested.

Seventeen (identified below) were named in the indictment altogether; five escaped the predawn raids in Canada and are lamming it in the Great White North. They face Canada-wide warrants and one of the five "in the wind" is a descendant of a notorious Ndrangheta family based in Hamilton. His father and grandfather were both bosses.

The arrested in Canada include members of the Todaro crime family, established by the now-deceased Joseph (Lead Pipe Joe) Todaro, Sr., who took over after the death of Stefano (The Undertaker) Magaddino.

It would seem probable that the probe will have ongoing ramifications for, and possibly create serious turmoil within, New York's Bonanno crime family, if not the Gambinos as well. Some wiretap transcripts were released, though names were redacted.

As part of the coordinated Canadian-US takedown, police secretly recorded a 2015 Mafia induction ceremony in Canada in which a defendant sponsored a confidential informant to become a full-fledged member of the Bonanno crime family, prosecutors said.

The National Post's Adrian Humphreys reported that the CI is an undercover police agent who "was formally inducted into the Mafia in Canada while authorities secretly videotaped the initiation ceremony, an unexpected highlight in a large drugs, guns and money probe snaring alleged mob figures on both sides of the Canada-U.S. borders."

Humphreys added:

In November 2015, a mobster in the Bonanno crime family — one of the infamous Five Families of the Mafia in New York City — traveled to Canada to conduct the induction ceremony, according to U.S. authorities.

The new member was told to report back to a captain in the Bonanno organization, prosecutors allege.

What the gangsters didn’t know is the recruit was an undercover agent cooperating with police on both sides of the border and video and audio of the ceremony was secretly recorded.

The induction, involving at least five men, was allegedly presided over by Damiano Zummo, 44, an acting captain in the Bonanno crime family.

As part of what's been named Operation OTremens (the RCMP claims there's no significance to the name, to which we say, yeah, right), undercover officers allegedly purchased 6 kilos of fentanyl and carfentanil (a form of synthetic opioid analgesic fentanyl) in six buys.

The charges encompass 75 crimes, including trafficking fentanyl, carfentanil, heroin, cocaine, and methamphetamine, in addition to trafficking in weapons and contraband tobacco. (And bookmaking.)

The four men arraigned in New York face charges for narcotics trafficking, loansharking and firearms charges. They are Damiano Zummo, 44, Salvatore Russo, 45, Paul Semplice, 54 and Paul Ragusa, 46.

As per officials:
--Zummo is an acting captain in the Bonanno crime family
--Russo is an associate of the Bonanno crime family
--Semplice is a member of the Gambino crime family
--Ragusa is an associate of the Bonanno and Gambino crime families and once a member of the FBI’s Top 10 Most Wanted List.

Humphreys reported that during the recorded making ceremony, Zummo told the unnamed inductee:

"It’s already — from this guy, this guy, this guy — everybody approved it, so from this day forward, you’re a member of the Bonanno family. Congratulations,” said Zummo

“Thank you,” the recruit said.

The new member was then formally introduced to other members using the traditional Mafia code of calling a made man a “friend of ours,” and then told the internal hierarchy and who he reports to...

“And now I want to introduce you to John. John, friend of ours with the Bonanno. John, (name of agent deleted), friend of ours with the Bonanno. Now, your captain is (name deleted.)”

“Okay,” said the recruit. 

“He’s our skipper. (Nickname of Bonanno member deleted), is our acting… You’re gonna be in our regime,” Zummo allegedly said. 


"You only answer to the Bonanno family."

Acting US attorney in Brooklyn, Bridget Rohde, called the recording "an extraordinary achievement for law enforcement."

The charges include accusations that Zummo and Russo sold more than 2 pounds of cocaine in a Manhattan gelato store. Zummo is also charged with laundering more than $250,000 in cash.

Old school, respected Ndrangheta boss Giacomo Luppino, once
Stefano Magaddino's viceroy in Hamilton.

Semplice is accused of running a high-interest loan scheme, with interest ranging as high as 54 percent, generating thousands in profits a week.

Ragusa is charged with being a felon in possession of nine firearms.

If convicted, Zummo, Ragusa and Russo risk life imprisonment. Semplice faces a maximum sentence of 20 years, prosecutors said.

As for the part of the operation in the GTA (Greater Toronto Area, which sometimes includes Hamilton, a city in Ontario, and its surrounding region.)

The GTA's fentanyl market has been encroached by this operation, RCMP Supt. Chris Leather said.

“I would expect it will have a significant impact over the short term,” Leather said.

Two of the accused are grandsons of the late Giacomo Luppino of Hamilton, a founding member of the local crimine, which is a governing body for Ndrangheta members, formerly part of Stefano Magaddino's crime family, though this operation suggests that in the end, the late Joe Bonanno won posthumously a long-simmering fued between him and cousin, Stefano Magaddino.

The American Mafia Commission in 1931 decreed that Quebec, including Montreal, fell under the purview of Bonanno, while Southern Ontario, including Toronto and the waterfront, Ndrangheta-dominated town of Hamilton were placed under the control of Bonanno's cousin, Magaddino.

Predawn raids in Canada
Domenico Paolo Violi, 51, was charged with a variety of drug trafficking offences, while a Canada-wide warrant was issued for his brother Giuseppe (Joe) Violi. Both are from Hamilton. The two were sons of murdered onetime Montreal mob boss Paolo Violi, who in 1977, while dining with friends, an assassin rushed into the restaurant and fired a lupara, blowing Violi's head off. The double-barreled sawed-off shotgun is known to have been favored by Sicilian Cosa Nostra members seeking to permanently solve a problem.

Somewhere Joe Bonanno has to be smiling.... 

The Violi brothers allegedly built a well-established organization with “an international reach.”

The operation began when a mobster turned on his old associates, police said. Also, RCMP officials noted that a police source “respected by traditional organized crime in both countries (Canada and U.S.)" was ensnared in the operation.

Humphreys reported that the four-year probe shows that "the traditional cross-border rectangle of Mafia organizations from 60 years ago remains intact: Hamilton-Buffalo-Montreal-New York."

The operation was far-reaching in scope, spanning from British Columbia to Quebec -- and south to the United States. Officials in Italy, Mexico, Colombia and the Netherlands were also involved.

New York's Parallel Probe
The FBI in New York City conducted what the RCMP called “a parallel, but separate investigation into members of the Bonanno and Gambino families.

Also assisting in the operation were Homeland Security from the U.S., the Colombian National Police, and several Italian police departments as well as RCMP liaison officers in Colombia, Mexico, Italy and the Netherlands.

A Toronto police employee, Erin Maranan, was also accused of leaking information and had been previously charged with 20 counts of breach of trust for database queries.

“This investigation . . . demonstrated organized crime’s ability to corrupt people in positions of public trust to further their criminal enterprise,” the RCMP said in a statement. “Police believe she made queries on behalf of a criminal organization . . .”

Charged on Thursday morning were:
--Domenico Paolo Violi, Hamilton
--Dimitar Dimitrov, Stoney Creek
--Adriano Valentino Scolieri, Richmond Hill
--Bernardo Luke Rotolo, Woodbridge
--Tran Giang Tang, Kam Tim Tong, both of Markham
--Nicholas Valentine, Vaughan
--Anthony James Arroyo, Waterloo
--James Lincoln Jablonski, Mississauga

Canada-wide warrants were issued for
--Giuseppe Violi
--Massimigliano Carfagna, Burlington
--Yin Yun Leong, Markham
--Witton Luu, Toronto
--Wojciech Grezesiowski, Innisfill