Canadian Mob Murder Probe into 2013 Hit Heats Up

Canadian law enforcement probing two murders in Southern Ontario linked to the country's Ndrangheta are on a roll, announcing several breaking developments this month.

Angelo Musitano, Ndrangheta member, was shot to death by man wearing black.
The man in black shot a 28-year-old woman. The same man killed Musitano months later.

The investigation centers on the murders of Hamilton organized crime figure Angelo Musitano last spring and a 28-year-old woman in Woodbridge shot to death months prior. A man she was meeting was likely the true target.

At a news conference earlier this month, local law enforcement officials revealed for the first time that the two murders, of Mila Barberi in March 2017 and Musitano in May 2017, were linked. This was based on several main factors: from studying surveillance of the lead suspect in each shooting, police determined he is the same person. Also, a black Honda Civic Coupe was connected to both homicides, police said.

Mila Barberi was murdered by accident months prior to Musitano.
Mila Barberi was slain by mistake.

Police also recently revealed that Musitano had been targeted by a "sophisticated and extensive" surveillance operation from April 27 onward by more than one person. Police believe the surveillance likely was to check on his "lifestyle and habits," CBC reported.

Law enforcement in Canada appears to be much less open about arrests and investigations than here (my opinion). Also during trials, judges tend to order media blackouts, meaning little is released until after the verdict.

Innocent Victim Slain in Gangland Hit
Barberi was gunned down by accident, according to police. At around 4 p.m. on March 14, in a Woodbridge parking lot, she was meeting a man when the gunman opened fire on the car both were in.

Initially, Barberi's murder was viewed as being linked to a string of nine gangland hits in Vaughan from 2013 to 2015.

Days after Barberi's murder, York Regional Police reported they had recovered the vehicle used in the murder in an industrial park near Rexdale. It was a Jeep Grand Cherokee, which was found on March 16 based on a phone tip. 

Surveillance footage found by police showed the Cherokee and Honda Civic traveling in tandem just prior to the homicide and (see below) also depicted a gunman in black hopping out of the passenger side of the SUV and dashing across the parking lot while someone waited behind the wheel.Then the gunmen sprinted back, hopped in, and the vehicle sped off.

Immediately after the shooting, the Jeep was seen driving back toward the Honda coup. After attempting to set it on fire, the getaway driver was seen getting into the coup, which then drove off.

In the interval from leaving the vehicle and returning 
a 28-year-old woman was killed.

In May of last year, following the Musitano hit, the killer fled in a burgundy Ford Fusion. Police found it abandoned a few blocks away. They recovered surveillance footage that shows the shooter was the same man spotted on video at the Woodbridge case.

Barbieri wasn't involved in organized crime, police said.

Her boyfriend, Saverio Serrano – the son of a notorious Canadian Mafia figure and cocaine importer – in the car with her that day, was wounded in the shoulder but survived and likely was the intended target, according to reports.

Serrano's father, Diego, was charged in a mob probe two years ago and was sentenced to four years and six months in prison for cocaine trafficking earlier this month, the Globe and Mail reported.

Both the Musitano and Serrano families have historical ties to the 'Ndrangheta (Calabrian Mafia).

Canadian organized crime author and expert Antonio Nicaso said the spike in mob violence reflects the instability in the Canadian underworld following the death of Vito Rizzuto in 2013. Nicaso, with Peter Edwards, authored Business or Blood: Mafia Boss Vito Rizzuto’s Last War, which inspired the Canadian tv series Bad Blood. (Excerpt from the book here.)

Vito Rizzuto, boss of Montreal Mafia, formed an alliance with Musitanos in 1990s.
Vito Rizzuto, boss of Montreal Cosa Nostra, died of cancer in 2013.

Motive for Musitano Hit?
James Dubro, the Canadian journalist/author who has written several books about the Mafia's presence in Canada, said the Musitano crime family, one of the three Ndrangheta clans historically based in Hamilton, is poised for extinction.

Following a decades-long run, "newcomers are keen to kick them to the curb," Dubro told the Toronto Sun. “There’s a turf war going on and someone wants to get rid of the old guys."

Dubro's books include Mob Mistress, Mob Rule, King of the Mob (a biography of Rocco Perri, the "Canadian Al Capone.")

“Whoever is behind it wants to get rid of the Musitanos forever." 

The suspect list includes a bevy of Ndrangheta clans in GTA (the Greater Toronto Area).

Angelo's brother, reputed mob boss Pasquale “Fat Pat” Musitano, has virtually disappeared. He reportedly departed Hamilton in an effort to keep his head down. (His house was "sprayed with bullets" a month after his brother was murdered. Police said the family is not co-operating with the investigation.)

He's lucky, Dubro said. “There are a lot of powerful people who want him out of the way."

Hamilton History
The Musitanos were one of three Ndrangheta clans that are known to have historically dominated Hamilton, a waterfront, steel-making town with a long history of underworld activity. The Luppinos and the Papalias were the other two. Like Rizzuto in Montreal, the Luppinos and Papalias had longtime historical ties to the American Mafia.

In 1931, the Mafia Commission decreed that Quebec, including Montreal, would fall under Joseph Bonanno's control, while Southern Ontario, including Hamilton, was given to Stefano Magaddino, the Buffalo mob boss.

The Musitanos partnered with the Montreal Cosa Nostra clan when it was run by Vito Rizzuto, a member of New York's Bonanno crime family who participated in the 1981 murder of three renegade Bonanno capos.

Rizzuto, in the 1990s, had consolidated his control over Montreal one body at a time and was moving to dominate Southern Ontario, which would've heightened his power exponentially. He linked up with the Musitanos.

Law enforcement spotted a Rizzuto lieutenant meeting with Musitano family leaders after each of three key hits in the late 1990s. Aside from Papalia, two of his chief confidants were killed, Ennio "Pegleg" Mora and Carmen Barillaro.

Then Vito himself was seen meeting the brothers. Before anything else could happen, Vito Rizzuto was arrested for participating in internal Bonanno business in 1981: specifically, the three-capo murders of Alphonse "Sonny Red" Indelicato, Dominick "Big Trin" Trinchera and Philip "Phil Lucky" Giaccone.

Unlike the other two Hamilton families, which partnered with the American mob, the Musitanos didn't.

Musitano family members didn't benefit from Stefano Magaddino's largess, as did the two other Ndrangheta clans,  which could've been part of the reason they chose to take a gamble and "reach across the aisle," so to speak. Today Canadian reports seem to speculate that it was for their partnership with Rizzuto that they are targeted today.

Seems to this blogger it's most likely because the Musitano leaders killed Papalia and his two lieutenants. Revenge is a stronger motive than the theoretical notion of betrayal.

Magaddino named Giacomo Luppino as the Buffalo crew's longtime representative in Southern Ontario. Luppino was the first Ndrangheta member to set down roots in Hamilton.

Pat Musitano's house was shot up after his brother was slain.
Pat Musitano, right.

Giacomo died in 1987 at 88 of natural causes. 

Johnny "Pops" Papalia then assumed control. Around 10 years later, on May 31, 1997, Papalia was killed outside his office. The mob boss, known as The Enforcer, was gunned down by hitman Ken Murdock in broad daylight as he walked through the parking lot of his family's vending machine business.

In 2000, the Musitano brothers were sentenced to 10 years in prison under a plea deal for conspiring to murder Barillaro. Charges for Papalia’s death were dropped as per the deal. And for them everything was quiet until one day last May....