Mob Boss Gunned Down Near Buffalo, New York, Last Night

A “well-known Mafia boss” who lived in Hamilton was shot dead last night, according to Hamilton’s Homicide Unit, which is investigating.

Hamilton Police investigating a homicide on Sunflower Crescent in Ancaster early Friday morning.

The shooting happened around 10 p.m. Thursday on Sunflower Crescent, near Highway 403 and Mohawk Road. A source with the Hamilton police department told CityNews that “the victim appears to be a well-known mafia boss who lives in the neighbourhood.” The neighbourhood of Scenic Woods is an affluent area with many large, single family homes.

Two cars remained in the driveway behind the police tape at the scene around 8 a.m. this morning.

This is the fifth homicide in Hamilton this year.

Police said the victim, a 50-year-old man, was pronounced dead at the scene.

Montreal Cosa Nostra boss Vito Rizzuto who died in December 2013.

Neighbors reported hearing several gunshots and then saw a vehicle speeding away from the scene.

Police said this was a targeted shooting. The victim’s identity has not been released.

Hamilton is in Southern Ontario on the western end of the Niagara Peninsula. Hamilton is roughly the midway point between Toronto and Buffalo, New York.

The Undertaker Stefano Magaddino

Hamilton has historically been a Ndrangheta stronghold since around the time of the reign of Stefano Magaddino, the Buffalo mob boss who controlled it, supposedly as per a 1931 underworld decree that also entitled Joseph Bonanno, boss of one of the Five Families in New York, to benefit from the Sicilian Cosa Nostra based in Montreal; in  fact, the crime family consisted of a Calabrian faction. After Carmine Galante journeyed to Montreal to formally take control for Joe Bonanno, the wily Sicilian boss put one of the Calabrians in charge of the Montreal organization.

It was in the 1950s that Galante visited Montreal, crashing into it like a storm with the backing of a crew of enforcers led by Montreal Mafioso Frank Petrula (who reportedly helped cultivate Bonanno’s initial interest in Montreal). Fueling Joseph Bonanno’s immediate concern were some 100 bookies who had fled to Montreal to escape American litigation created following the 1950-1951 televised “Kefauver Committee.”

Galante basically went to Montreal to tell them that even though they had departed New York, they still owed New York — specifically, the Bonanno crime family. Galante apparently widened his mandate and decided Bonanno was going to get a piece of everything. In Galante’s grip, Montreal “wept and bled,” as journalist Adrian Humphreys wrote in The Enforcer, a bio of John Papalia. Every nightclub and brothel, every underground  abortionist -- every denizen of Montreal's underworld was shaken down by Galante and Petrula, who shared a sadistic streak. Humphreys relates a story about the two forcing a busboy in one establishment to dance barefoot atop crushed glass.

Vito Rizzuto, the Sicilian Cosa Nostra boss of Montreal who died in December 2013, was fighting a war against elements of his own Sicilian Cosa Nostra allied with certain Ndrangheta clans. The war continued after Rizzuto 's death, though the complexion and motivations of the two main factions have seemingly evolved over the years....

The Canadian and American Mafias were caught in the harsh glare of law enforcement last November following coordinated raids in New York City and in the Greater Toronto Area.

Thirteen 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 also arrested, including members of the Todaro crime family, established by the now-deceased Joseph (Lead Pipe Joe) Todaro, Sr., who took over after the death of Magaddino.

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.

A CI who had been an associate 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 that ensnared  alleged mob figures on both sides of the Canada-U.S. borders.

The Ndrangheta has been linked to previous murders committed in Hamilton. Whether yesterday's murder is related is an open question, though there is certainly a possibility.

Earlier this year, Canadian law enforcement officials were probing two high-profile murders in Southern Ontario, both of which had been allegedly linked to the Ndrangheta. One of the slayings was of a mob boss who had once been in alliance with Vito Rizzuto.

The man in black shot a 28-year-old woman. The same man killed Musitano months later.

The investigations centered on the murders of Hamilton organized crime figure Angelo Musitano in the spring of 2017 and a 28-year-old woman in Woodbridge who was shot to death months prior. A man she was meeting was likely the true target.

At a news conference, 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 slain by mistake.

Police also 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. 

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 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.)

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 benefit from partnerships with American mafia families, 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

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, 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 in May 2017....


• Aug. 13, 1930: Bessie Starkman, common-law wife to Rocco Perri is gunned down in the garage of their house on Bay Street South. No one was ever charged in the killing. More than 10,000 people attended her funeral.

• April 23, 1944: Last sighting of Rocco Perri, Canada's King of Bootleggers, who vanished while out for a walk. Perri made a fortune in Hamilton through illicit booze, prostitution, narcotics and the enforcement racket.

• Late 1970s to summer of 1980: A series of bombings across Hamilton targets the Italian community. Hamilton became known as "bomb city" during that time. In 1983, Anthony Musitano is convicted of conspiracy to possess explosive substances with intent to cause explosions and sentenced to 15 years.

• Nov. 21, 1985: Salvatore (Sam) Alaimo, a Stelco janitor and father of five, is shot as he worked in his Florence Street home. He was killed in a drive-by shooting by former Mob hit man Ken Murdock.

• March 5, 1992: Someone tries to burn down the Collins Hotel in Dundas. Paper placemats were soaked in gasoline and stuffed into toasters set on timers. In 1996, Pat Musitano and his brother-in-law, John Trigiani, were acquitted of conspiracy to commit arson and arson for the purpose of insurance fraud. At the time, police were investigating Pat's father for several other suspicious fires. The fraud and arson investigation, called Project Toast, was an effort to figure out why Musitano properties kept bursting into flames.

• July 23, 1997: Carmen Barillaro, a lieutenant of Hamilton mobster Johnny (Pops) Papalia, is shot in his Niagara Falls home. Ang and Pat Musitano pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit murder.

• May 31, 1997: Johnny (Pops) Papalia is killed outside his Railway Street office. The powerful Mob boss, known as The Enforcer, was gunned down by hit man Ken Murdock in broad daylight as he walked through the parking lot of his family's vending machine business on Railway Street. Pat and Ang Musitano were charged with first-degree murder in this contract killing, but a deal saw this charge dropped in exchange for the plea in the Barillaro case. The brothers were sentenced to 10 years and released on full parole in 2006.

• Nov. 18, 1998 and Feb. 3, 1999: A pair of restaurant bombs are connected to organized crime. The first was a bomb left at the front door of La Cantina Ristorante on Walnut Street. It misfired. The second went off in an alley behind La Costa restaurant on King William Street. The explosion caused minor injuries to a man and his sister.

• Sept. 22, 2015: Pat Musitano's vehicle is set on fire at his St. Clair Boulevard home.

• May 2, 2017: Ang Musitano is gunned down in his car in the driveway of his Waterdown home.