‘Ndrangheta Dynamics In The Greater Toronto Area: The Story Of An Internal Mafia Clash (Part 2)

By Andrew Machin

“It is very difficult to know the names of the perpetrators [of a murder]. It is very easy to know the hand… from whom [the order] comes… the instigator. But the names of the perpetrators are very difficult to know in the underworld circles”.

Raffaele Moscato, government witness, former high-ranking member (rank of Vangelo, transl. Gospel) and killer of the Locale of Piscopio, 2016.

Carmine Verduci


It was April 24, 2014, on a Thursday, and it was broad daylight (2 pm).

Carmine Verduci (above) was alone in a parking lot just outside a café, the Regina Sports Café, in an industrial and retail plaza of Woodbridge (community in the City of Vaughan, north of Toronto). Evidently, he was tailed since, at that very moment, he was approached by a single gunman who shot him seven times, killing him.

Then the shooter walked away. A short distance away, he reached a car where an accomplice was waiting for him behind the wheel. Then the car disappeared leaving no traces. The police, alerted by a phone call that reported gunshots in front of the aforementioned café, immediately set up roadblocks around the area for many hours, but it was all in vain. 

Hours later, while forensic investigations were still ongoing, the York Regional Police released some information to the press: “We’re looking for two suspects in this case,” Sgt. Clint Whitney said. He said two white men are sought in connection with the slaying. One is described as short, with a slim build, wearing a black or grey hoodie and dark baggy pants. No further details were immediately available on the second suspect. “It’s believed they fled the area in a silver or grey Honda Civic, or a vehicle of similar design,” Whitney said.” (R. Lamberti - C. Doucette, Toronto Sun, Apr. 25-26, 2014).

There also seemed to be a certain optimism: “He said police have been “getting good co-operation from witnesses who were at the scene,” but they continue to appeal for others who saw the killing to come forward”. “We’re fortunate there are many businesses in the area with security cameras,” Whitney said. “Investigators have seized surveillance footage from those businesses and they are reviewing it, so we should be able to release better suspect descriptions later.” (ibidem).

The reality is that the murder remained, and still remains today, unsolved. This was a sign that the perpetrators were professionals who had not made any mistakes during the entire event (the same number of shots fired by the gunman, seven total, indicates not particular precision but, at the same time, determination and, probably, ability in getting a job done).

The impression, however, is that Verduci did not fear for his life and therefore did not take particular precautions during his movements, even more so within his own territory. Impression supported by the following considerations of a police source: “The source said Verduci is known to carry a gun and if he suspected he was going to be a target of a hit, he most likely would have been armed and extremely cautious in his movements. While the source didn’t know if Verduci was armed when he was killed, the slaying shows how unprepared he was and how easily the assassins moved within the victim’s turf.” (R. Lamberti, Toronto Sun, Apr. 26, 2014).

As is known, a basic rule in open or approaching warfare situations is to strike when your enemy least expects it (maybe after doing some sneaky dissimulation work). Its application, in this case, could therefore have facilitated the assassin’s task.

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But who was the victim?

Carmine Verduci (1957-2014) was an Italian born in Oppido Mamertina, a village on the Tyrrhenian side of Calabria, known for being the setting of one of the fiercest feuds of 'Ndrangheta between two opposing sides of blood families (30 deaths, only between 1992 and 1998). Moreover, in the same locality, in 2014, during the annual procession dedicated to the Virgin Mary (below), her statue had been seen to stop briefly in front of the local top boss’s house as a sign of reverence (just to mention another Canadian mob leading exponent in Southern Ontario, we can remember that Giacomo Luppino [1900-1987], historical boss of the American Cosa Nostra Buffalo Family component in Hamilton, also came from Oppido Mamertina).

annual procession dedicated to the Virgin Mary


Moving to Canada, Verduci became a Canadian citizen. Thanks to this North American status, in 2011, he avoided extradition following an arrest warrant issued for him by the Italian authorities (within Project Crimine 2) for mafia association as the Canadian penal code does not provide for this crime.

He was considered a long-time mobster as A. Humphreys reported in National Post, on Apr. 25, 2014: “Mr. Verduci’s longevity in the mob is signified by a secret police intelligence report from 1990: “The Mafia persons on the rise within their ranks and will be the Mafia men of the 1990s are,” it summarized, and then placed Mr. Verduci in the sixth spot”.

He lived in Woodbridge where he had several properties as well as a farm in Caledon, also located in the Greater Toronto Area. Therefore Verduci lived in, better, he guarded over a territory we believe was at least partially under the control of his Locale dependent on the mother-Local of Marina di Gioiosa Ionica.

In that same territory, however, the increasingly aggressive Figliomenis from Siderno had also settled.

Over the time, this cohabitation could have generated growing contrasts between them for the criminal dominance over the area. Main object of the dispute, probably, was the direct or indirect control of premises within which to offer illegal gaming and the associated loan sharking.

Therefore, allegedly, two Locali belonging to what was the Crimine of Toronto in direct competition with each other and having a substantially different type of leadership, as we told in the previous article (Part 1.):

Ø The Figliomenis would have operated on their own initiative, without having to answer to their mother-Society in Siderno. Indeed, in that particular historical period (from 2012 onwards), it had been established that, for all the dependent Locali outside Calabria (“…. it [the Society of Siderno] has ninety-six Locali…”, the supreme boss Giuseppe “The Master” Commisso said in an intercepted dialogue dated 2009), any obligation of prior authorization from the mother-Society about significant decisions would have ceased.

Ø On the contrary, Carmine Verduci would always have operated by carrying out the directives of the Coluccio brothers, in particular of Antonio and, even more, of Giuseppe, at the time (2013-2014), the top boss of the mother-Locale of Marina di Gioiosa Ionica.

After all, Verduci was at home in Calabria where he, approximately until 2009-2010, often went as a messenger of news and orders to the 'Ndangheta members in connection with him.

Relationships and contacts were so frequent that, in Calabria, to avoid mentioning him directly (in general, an expedient used to make identifications more difficult in the event of intercepted conversations by the police), the men of ‘Ndrangheta used the nickname of "Ciccio Formaggio" (we can translate Ciccio as fatty; Formaggio is cheese in English, therefore a nickname evidently deriving from his passion for this kind of food), as stated in the Italian Project Crimine (2010), for example in the following passage: “TAVERNESE, before concluding the talk, brings Ciccio Formaggio's greetings to [Antonio] Coluccio”. 

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In order to further deepen the knowledge about Carmine Verduci’s activities and criminal profile, we find it useful to start from the latest acquisitions available. They were collected as part of the Canadian Project code-named Ophenix (period of investigation: mid 2013 - mid 2015). Initially, it had specifically targeted four subjects considered to be leading elements of the 'Ndrangheta in GTA.




The development of investigations and the subsequent trials permitted to condemn two of them (Diego Serrano and Giuseppe “Pino” Ursino).

Prosecutions against the remaining two were instead stopped. In one case, due to lack of evidence (Cosimo Commisso). In the other, due to Carmine Verduci’s premature violent death, subject of the present analysis (for these reasons, the relative chart presented by the police to the press [above] reported only three kingpins).

This partial success was made possible thanks to the courage and ability of an infiltrator of Calabrian origin, Carmine Guido (a former low-level criminal), who allowed to discover some fragments of the activities of the 'Ndrangheta in the GTA.

We remember that infiltrators, fatally, can always guarantee only very limited results. Indeed, the 'Ndrangheta in Canada, as well as American Cosa Nostra, allows external affiliates to have relationships with a very small number of full members. By doing so, affiliates can only learn little information and, in any case, they are never put in a position to know roles, ranks and duties within a given criminal organization, if not very superficially.

However, the Project had an undoubted value. To begin with, because, as the deputy chief federal prosecutor Tom Andreopoulos marked, it was the first time that in Canada the 'Ndrangheta was targeted as an organized crime group since the offence of criminal organization came into effect in 1997.

The brief contributions that we will now quote are all parts of the testimonies of the infiltrator Carmine Guido during the trial of Giuseppe "Pino" Ursino (which ended in 2019 with his sentence of 12 and a half years in prison), as reported by P. Edwards in different articles of valuable judicial news.


① Firstly with a single but significant episode:
Guido said he was once summoned by Verduci in the middle of the night while he was working as a police agent. He did not go into details of exactly what happened that night, except to suggest that the situation fizzled.

I was in my pyjamas,” Guido said. “They said I’d better get over there right now.” He said Verduci’s group was clearly upset with someone in their world.

“These guys wanted to go out and kill the guy that night,” Guido said. “I wasn’t going to kill anybody.”

He said he was in a dangerous spot that night, as he couldn’t refuse to obey Verduci.

“I was put in a lot of bad situations,” Guido said. “If I didn’t show up that night, they would have killed me.
” (P. Edwards, The Star, Apr. 9, 2018).


What we get from this story is that Verduci performed operational and command functions of a criminal group. A type of human group within which there are rules, some of them absolutely ruthless, in order to maintain order and discipline. It can be assumed that part of it was identified during Project Ophenix which placed ten subjects under him (below).
 



At the time, the information provided by the police forces about them, even if basic (age, allegations, residence), was extremely interesting and brought forth some considerations.

First of all, it is possible to notice the presence of three non-Italian subjects out of ten. This circumstance reminds us a very important notion: in Canada, the 'Ndrangheta allows formal affiliation even to men of non-Italian origin (we don’t know if it was the case of one or more of these three suspects).

Secondly, it should be noted that the group was formed by a perfect mix (exactly fifty-fifty) between relatively young men (30-43 years), therefore more prone to action, and older men (58-66), evidently with more criminal experience (in general, an old mobster is always more dangerous than a young one. That is because strength can be found in the underworld market; on the other hand, experience to make the right decisions is personal).

Thirdly, it is to underline that the criminal business of all of them was drug trafficking. In particular, for eight of them, the “controlled substance” was cocaine. Only for one, Marco Maone, who credible but unverified information qualified him as a member of a motorcycle theft ring that was busted in the GTA some years earlier, besides cocaine, heroin, MDMA and methamphetamine were also mentioned. For two of them marijuana instead.

Lastly, the fourth aspect to highlight is the geographical composition of this set of individuals. It appeared to be composed of three subgroups:

❶ One from Toronto.

❷ One from north of Toronto (the one involved in the marijuana trafficking).

❸ One from Hamilton. The mention of this city leads to inevitable suggestions about the possible existence and consistency of relationships (and/or, at the limit, contrasts) with other criminal organizations of Italian origin present in Hamilton in that period (we refer naturally to the Calabrian faction of the Buffalo Family and the Musitano crime family, always of Calabrian origin, and yet, certainly unlike the first, aligned to the Sicilian Rizzuto crime family from Montreal). Verduci, therefore, led a branched organization.

In Vaughan, he ruled his territory personally. He made decisions and, eventually, participated in actions, even very violent. In these terms, different police sources expressed themselves: “Police sources say Verduci was involved in kidnapping, drug trafficking, gambling and is suspected in a number of murders, including an unsolved slaying in Woodbridge, and possibly in Italy”. “He was a violent man, a guy who was responsible for ... extortion to drug trafficking, to any type of violent criminal enterprise,” he said. “From prostitution, to smuggling, abduction. He was good for murder.” (R. Lamberti, Toronto Sun, Apr. 26, 2014). In general, the list of criminal activities just reported appears to be credible. Only the mention of prostitution raises doubts. For the mentality of mobsters of Italian origin (it makes no difference whether they belong to the 'Ndrangheta or Cosa Nostra), it is highly dishonorable to manage prostitution.

And: “Verduci headed his own street crew, which was active in the GTA and Hamilton. “He had his own little army of guys,” a police source said”. “He was feared on the street.”, “They called him The Animal.” (P. Edwards, The Star, Apr. 25, 2014), evidently, another nickname of his, this time widespread among the underworld in the GTA.

In essence, he was an uncomfortable figure and, consequently, first target to eliminate from the territory for any possible opposing criminal group operating in the same area in the event of an open war outbreak.

② Carmine Guido’s testimonies provided fundamental information about Verduci's belonging to the 'Ndrangheta and his position in it:

Was he (Verduci) a member of 'Ndrangheta?," Streeter [Crown attorney] asked.

"Yes," Guido replied, adding that Verduci had been on the local board of control”


(P. Edwards, The Star, Mar. 24, 2018).

And: “Guido asked Ursino on May 7, 2014 if Verduci was on the board of directors for the local ‘Ndrangheta, known also as the Camera di Controllo. “Yes, of course,” Ursino replied

(P. Edwards, The Star, Mar. 27, 2018).

Therefore, Verduci belonged to the 'Ndrangheta and was a member of the Camera di Controllo (Board of Control). This body brought together the bosses of all the Locali belonging to the Crimine of Toronto, which could boast the formal recognition by the supreme Crimine located in Calabria (an indispensable requirement to be entitled to confer higher ranks of ‘Ndrangheta to both Canadian and Italian full members).

Evidently, Verduci represented his Locale dependent on the mother-Locale of Marina di Gioiosa Jonica.

To tell the truth, in 2010, the Italian Project Crimine attributed the same position within the Camera di Controllo to Vincenzo Tavernese, allegedly always as representative of the Locale dependent on the mother-Locale of Marina di Gioiosa Ionica, we add. Beyond a precise and definitive identification, it is reasonable to assume that Verduci, at the time of his murder, was the apical element of his criminal group and consequently the boss (Capo Locale) of the Locale in Toronto dependent on the mother-Locale of Marina di Gioiosa Ionica.

In view of all the above, the assertions of the aforementioned police source reported by R. Lamberti immediately after the killing seem to express a misjudgment in downsizing his role: “He wasn’t a leader, but he was pretty close,” the source said. “He was a hugely significant player. He was a central figure. (But) he’s not the boss. He’s a boss of his crew.” (R. Lamberti, Toronto Sun, Apr. 26, 2014).

Undoubtedly, at that time, the results of Project Ophenix were not yet known. But, for example, those of Project Crimine were (we will deal with them below).

Perhaps, Verduci’s constant and active presence on his territory was not considered appropriate. Nevertheless, the fact that he had not chosen a less exposed and more comfortable position is not enough to deny him the status of boss of very high level, both by rank and by position within his Locale.

③ We conclude with a final quote, again regarding Verduci's relationships with his mother-Locale and interests in regards to premises:

“Guido told Ursino that a man named Antonio Coluccio ordered the closure of the Regina Café after the murder.

“They said close it for respect for Carmine, and they closed it,” Guido said.

“What’s Carmine have to do with this?,” Ursino asked.

“Because they killed him outside of there,” Guido said. “Closed. I don’t know why but together ... now it’s …”

“They were four or five that were involved,” Ursino said in a combination of English and Italian”.


(P. Edwards, The Star, Apr. 12, 2018).

This passage of testimony confirmed, first of all, the close relationship between Verduci and the Coluccio brothers even though the latter had been forced to leave the GTA for years to return to Calabria.

At the same time, it demonstrated the constant attention of the Coluccios, including immediate and direct interventions, to the events that took place in the GTA.

Furthermore, it highlighted their control, or at least strong influence, over the Regina Café. In this sense, it is not difficult to find similarities with the control allegedly exercised, through a front man, by the Figliomeni brothers over the Woodbridge's Moka Bar inside of which, according to our hypotheses, the response to Verduci's murder took place.

Therefore, this frame of reference would confirm the interests of a certain number of Locali of ‘Ndrangheta in premises north of Toronto as places to use to offer illegal gambling opportunities (we suggest reading of the reliable testimony of a hard-hitting player, code-name Mr. Palazzo, reported in the first article of this series).

These interests would have been at least partially clarified by the multi-police force operation called Project Oeider that, in Jan. 2016, hit the business of illegal video game machines raiding 11 Italian social clubs and cafés in Toronto and York region. And they would have been equally clarified by arson and bomb attacks aimed at damaging the illegal gambling activities of the criminal groups of Italian origin fighting each other. One of these attacks, on June 29, 2017, around 4 am, severely damaged the Café Corretto in Vaughan, one of the 11 Italian social clubs and cafés raided during the aforementioned Project Oeider.

In that case, due to their lack of criminal skill, the two attackers were easily identified and then prosecuted and convicted accordingly. However, before their judges, they took good care not to reveal the reasons or the instigators of their gesture. After all, the sentence that at least one of them received to three, only theoretical, years in prison, evidently, from his point of view appeared much more convenient than the concrete possibility of putting his life and that of his family at risk (family members are the first to be threatened by the ‘Ndrangheta).

In conclusion, we point out that the infiltrator, always during one of his testimonies, said he had tried, even with a certain insistence (evidently adequately instructed by his handlers), to gather information about Verduci's murder. An unsuccessful attempt, however, given that Ursino, aware of the absolute delicacy of the case, had been careful not to disclose any detail. The only noteworthy claim had been: “…. Verduci did something he was not supposed to do...something serious though,” Ursino told Guido” (P. Edwards, The Star, Mar 27, 2018). So saying, Ursino, from Gioisa Ionica, seemed to repeat the version leaked by the most numerous and powerful 'Ndrangheta members from Siderno in the area (take note that, during the trial, Ursino's defense lawyer tried to instill, unsuccessfully, the doubt that Carmine Guido himself was somehow involved in Verduci's murder).

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Alongside the Project Ophenix, Verduci's criminal profile and activities are also described by the aforementioned Italian Project Crimine, which had covered a period of a few years before (2008-2010).

As we have already learned, Verduci visited Calabria frequently. Project Crimine documents some meetings and events in which he had participated. In chronological order, we mention four particularly significant ones:

① On Feb. 12, 2008, a meeting takes place, as the Italian prosecutors reported, due to: “the need to freeze the debts of SCHIRRIPA Giulio” (prosecutors considered Verduci’s presence highly probable but not certain).

Giulio Schirripa (cl. 1971) operated permanently in New York City, where, in the Queens neighborhood of Corona, he ran a pizzeria. According to investigations, thanks to agreements with emissaries of Mexican cartels, he had set up an international cocaine trafficking from the Americas to Calabria in the interest of the Aquinos-Coluccios from Marina di Gioiosa Ionica (the entire organization will be dismantled by a joint US - Italian police operation called respectively Project Reckoning and Project Solare, in Sept. 2008).

By attending this meeting, Verduci showed that he was fully involved in the international cocaine trafficking on behalf of his mother-Locale.

However, interestingly, the summit was attended not only by subjects belonging to the Locale of Marina di Gioiosa Ionica which led the trafficking operation (the periodic payments to Schirripa came from a Western Union agency in Marina di Gioiosa Ionica attributable to Antonio Coluccio), but also by high-ranking members of other Locali of ‘Ndrangheta. An enlarged meeting, which meant that, evidently, in order to buy more substantial amounts of cocaine (and so to decrease its unit cost), more Locali had joined in a sort of consortium. Anticipating certain sums, each one of them would have received the corresponding part of cargo once it arrived in Calabria.

Evidently, Giulio Schirripa had received money in advance without having yet delivered the agreed cocaine. Hence the need for a meeting to agree to give further time to Schirripa to respect the agreements with the men of ‘Ndrangheta in Calabria.

② On Jun. 12, 2008, Verduci takes part in a meeting during which: “the murder of NOVELLA Carmelo is decided / authorized".

Carmelo Novella (1950-2008; below) was a very high-ranking member operating in the Milan area. On the strength of his undoubted charisma and reputation, he was causing the detachment of the Locali present in the Lombardy region of Italy by the Calabrian mother-Locali in order to create a new organization, always related to 'Ndrangheta, but completely independent (The Lombardia).


Carmelo Novella


This “secessionist” project (mid 2007 - mid 2008) provoked a great internal debate and therefore the inevitable reaction of the 'Ndrangheta located in Calabria. Indeed, Lombardy (the economic engine of Italy) was and is the richest province within the 'Ndrangheta empire. The detachment of the Locali present in that region (in 2010, 16 were identified; in 2018, about 30) was unacceptable for the mother-Locali because they would have seen all the relationships of subjection towards them interrupted. Hence, the murder of Carmelo Novella which took place on July 14, 2008, while he was sitting at an outside table of a bar café near Milan (below).

murder of Carmelo Novella


In this regard, during a dialogue intercepted about a month before the killing, the mafia lexicon used by a high-ranking member to inform another about the sentence issued against Novella struck with its expressive power: “He [Carmelo Novella] is over. The Province [The Crimine] fired him”.

Novella himself had begun to realize the situation when he found out he had not been invited to a wedding in Calabria (that of the daughter of a well-known exponent of the Aquinos, the hegemonic blood family in Marina di Gioisa Ionica), unlike other high-ranking members from Lombardy area. A very worrying signal in the ‘Ndrangheta environment.

Therefore, Verduci was personally involved in this strategic ‘Ndrangheta internal debate and in the consequent decision that marked the destiny of Carmelo Novella.

On Jan. 17, 2009, Verduci participates to the great dinner organized by the Coluccios in order to regroup their forces after the arrest of the Capo Clan Giuseppe (Aug. 2008) and after that Project Reckoning and Project Solare (Sept. 2008) had cut down the aforementioned cocaine trafficking route (see also the precedent article, Part 1.).

On Sept. 1, 2009, Verduci meets Giuseppe “The Master” Commisso, supreme boss of the Society of Siderno, inside his laundry shop he used to cover his criminal activities.

It is during this meeting that "The Master", questioned by Verduci about the condition of his brother Antonio at that moment locked up, pronounced the suggestive sentence: “The jail never bites anyone who’s a good Christian.” (about the mentality that it implies, we will come back in a next article).

Focusing on our main subject, the meeting confirmed, after the Carmelo Novella affair, the Verduci’s involvement in the highest dynamics of ‘Ndrangheta in Calabria. At that time (2009), they concerned the designation of the new Capo Crimine, the supreme boss of the entire organization.

And what is striking when reading the transcription of the relative intercepted conversation is that Verduci, although with due manners and prudence, was not afraid to express his complaints and perplexities to “The Master". In particular, as the prosecutors wrote: "VERDUCI Carmine complains that he was not summoned to participate in the criminal assembly for the assignment of the provincial positions of 'Ndrangheta [positions within the supreme Crimine ratified, in early September, on the feast day of the Virgin Mary of Polsi, Marian sanctuary falling under the authority of the Locale of San Luca]”.

Then: “he initiates a discussion on the new assignments, in particular the one that would have aroused the most controversy, the “Capo Crimine of Polsi”, assigned to OPPEDISANO Domenico [here below; for his collocation, see Figure 1. in the fourth article of this series], being skeptical of the newly elected person, then the "Master" explains some of the reasons that would have induced the criminal assembly to make a similar choice, since, he clarifies, those others would have kept the position twice”. From what it is possible to understand, the highest position within the 'Ndrangheta had previously been held for two consecutive times by subjects belonging to one macro-area (the Ionian side).

Domenico Oppedisano


Then, “The Master” explained that, in a shifting logic that has always been applied, he had nothing to object about Domenico Oppesidano (cl. 1930), belonging to the Tyrrhenian side.

At that point, Verduci thought it best to rectify his words so as not to appear too critical of the one who had been chosen to be the new Capo Crimine: "VERDUCI argues that, in reality, the problem does not lie in the position assigned to OPPEDISANO, but in the fact that neither he, nor his friends, would have been present at that assembly". The problem consisted in the fact that the meeting of the bosses deliberating the new positions within the Crimine, on the occasion of a wedding reception, would take place in only one of the two locations chosen for the celebrations. However, "The Master", to end the discussion on this issue, stated that it was just a misunderstanding, “categorically excluding any cheat”.

At this point, a brief explanation is needed.

The positions within the Crimine in Calabria are not decided on the feast day of the Virgin Mary of Polsi (the Virgin of the Mountain). That day they are only ratified and from that day they formally run.

The assignment of the positions, equally divided between the three macro-areas (Ionian side, Center - City of Reggio Calabria, Tyrrhenian side), takes place previously during meetings and consultations between the most authoritative bosses.

Giuseppe Pelle, supreme boss of San Luca


That year, 2009, the meeting opportunity had been, on August 19, the marriage between the offspring of two of the most known families of 'Ndrangheta, both from the Ionian side: Elisa Pelle, daughter of Giuseppe (cl. 1960), supreme boss of San Luca (above) and granddaughter of Antonio (1932-2009), mythical boss who is believed to have held the same position of Capo Crimine in past years, and Giuseppe Barbaro, belonging to the powerful blood family from Platì (about the importance of the Platì village in the ‘Ndrangheta’s panorama, the following sentence from the book “Fratelli di Sangue” [2006], transl. “Blood Brothers”, written by the prosecutor Nicola Gratteri and the mafia expert Antonio Nicaso, deserves to be reported: "If San Luca is the heart of the 'Ndrangheta, Platì is its mind"; just think of the historical solid ties between the most influential Platì families and the De Stefano blood family, at the top of the Locale of Archi which dominates the city of Reggio Calabria. “Platì and Archi were the same thing…” Antonino Fiume, government witness from Archi, testified in 2019, using a typical and eloquent expression that unites ‘Ndrangheta and Cosa Nostra).
 

Platì


According to the purest ‘Ndrangheta culture, the two blood families, already two heavyweights within it, welding the ties with this marriage, strengthened themselves further.

A clear objective commented with words carved in stone the day after, on August 20, by Raffaele Oppesidano (cl. 1967) while talking with his cousin Pietro (cl. 1971) and his father Domenico (the one who, on that occasion, had been designated for the highest position): "They wanted to have a power marriage, to show that they are strong, that they [the guests] came from all sides, did you understand what they wanted to do?" (dialogue held outdoors, within the Domenico Oppesidano’s citrus grove, to try, unsuccessfully, to avoid police interceptions).

In fact, the wedding reception had been so lavishly arranged and attended that it had requested two different locations to accommodate all the guests. As we have seen, this need aroused complaints because the decisive meeting for the choice of the new Capo Crimine was held in only one of the two structures, effectively excluding those who had been assigned to the other.

In conclusion of the contribution given by Project Crimine to the description of the Verduci's profile, we provide final information about the international context. In particular, with regard to “the projections” of the 'Ndrangheta in Canada, Project Crimine listed: “seven crime families whose members were mostly of Calabrian origin,” in the city of Toronto. One of them would have been headed by: "COLUCCIO Antonio, whose organization closely linked to that of TAVERNESE, VERDUCI Carmine would also operate", thus confirming the existence of a "criminal family" (to be defined more correctly locale), dependent on the mother-Locale of Marina di Gioiosa Ionica we add, operating in the GTA, to which Verduci belonged.

Carmelo Bruzzese would also have been part of this criminal group and it could not be otherwise considering the acquired kinship with Antonio Coluccio (see the previous article, Part. 1.).

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However, Verduci had relationships with all the main bosses of the 'Ndrangheta in the GTA. Just to give a couple of examples, we can recall the photographic documentation that portrayed him in the company of Jimmi De Maria, allegedly top boss originally from Siderno, in Oct. 2008, and: “His connections also included senior members of the Commisso crime family [always from Siderno] and some Hamilton mobsters.” (P. Edwards, The Star, Apr. 25, 2014).

Then, he also had ties with other, “near” and “far”, criminal organizations as P. Edwards kept informing (ibidem): “Verduci was also tied to local Albanian mobsters and the Gambino Mafia family of New York City, according to police,” (the reference to "Albanian mobsters" is particularly interesting and confirmed by the mafia expert Antonio Nicaso who, in an interview dated 2019, said: "The 'ndrangheta clans of Toronto, increasingly linked to the Albanians, who are now their military arm", [S. Pelaia, corrieredellacalabria.it, Jan. 25, 2019]).

After all, relationships between different criminal organizations, even very distant from each other, are often indispensable considering that many criminal businesses can only be carried out on international scale.

AK-47 assault rifles

In this regard, an interesting example is always found in the article by P. Edwards, dated Apr. 25, 2014: “Police suspected Verduci was smuggling AK-47 assault rifles [above] into the GTA while the ’Ndrangheta was brokering arms for opium in Afghanistan.

“These weapons are coming from the United States,” a police report obtained by the Star states”.

About a year and a half later, these news would acquire an additional value welding perfectly with evidence from Italian prosecutors. Indeed, beyond the confirmation that weapons trafficking was and is one of the criminal businesses of the 'Ndrangheta, they would provide feedback to the content of intercepted conversations included in the Italian Project Acero – Krupy (Sept. 2015). According to them, the motive for Verduci’s murder was to be ascribed to a misbehavior by the latter towards the Figliomenis, exactly in the context of buying and selling a batch of weapons. A real fact, maybe, but that seems more like the motive that the instigators had wanted to circulate in their environment (in this regard, we recall the sentence pronounced by Giuseppe “Pino” Ursino as reported by the infiltrator Carmine Guido). In other words, that was probably just an excuse to cover other reasons (the fact that Verduci seemed not to fear for his life, since evidently he believed he had not committed anything particularly serious, would confirm this hypothesis).

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In conclusion, we summarize the alleged main prerogatives of Carmine Verduci:

① The Canadian police considered him a long-time mobster.

② He was formally a boss. He held a high position in his Locale obtainable only by possessing a high rank of ‘Ndrangheta.

③ He was fully operational in his territory which he personally guarded over thanks to a criminal group under his command. However, his organization also had ramifications and relationships in other areas of Southern Ontario.

④ Despite the distance, he was in constant relationship with the Coluccio brothers to whom he had to answer for his most significant actions and from whom he took directives.

⑤ He went to Calabria frequently. In this way, he kept alive the relationships with men of ‘Ndrangheta residing there and, at the same time, he carried out the function of messenger of orders and news between the two sides of the Atlantic Ocean.

⑥ In Calabria, his reputation allowed him to openly confront himself even with the highest-ranking bosses. With them, he had the criminal stature to debate the most crucial issues under discussion within the organization.

⑦ In Canada, his main criminal activities and interests (in general, corresponding to those of all the ‘Ndrangheta in GTA) concerned: a. illegal gambling; b. loan sharking; c. drug trafficking; d. weapons trafficking; e. extortion racketeering, including the traditional imposition of suppliers, in particular on the premises. On the contrary, money laundering did not appear to be among his occupations. Indeed, Verduci looked more like a front-line commander rather than a subject turned over the years into an apparent white collar.

⑧ Like all the important bosses, he had a network of criminal relationships that went even beyond his own organization.

o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o


Here ends the description of the murder of Carmine Verduci and his high profile within the 'Ndrangheta. Only a subject at his level or above could have deliberated the homicide of such a figure.

The present examination will continue dealing with the investigative leads aimed at solving this case and the equally bloody armed response to it inside Woodbridge's Moka Bar (two people dead and two others injured on June 24, 2015). Indeed, a direct correlation between these two events will be argued; correlation never mentioned either by the York Regional Police or by the judicial bodies during the trial of the perpetrator of the attack on the Moka Bar (conviction issued in 2018, but no instigator identified). In this regard, a decisive contribution will be provided by intercepted conversations contained in the Italian police Project code-named Acero-Krupy (2015).

The frame of reference that will emerge will therefore be that of a war/clash between two Locali of ‘Ndrangheta located north of Toronto (thus falling within Category 1 sub.2 of the categorization presented in the aforementioned fourth article of this series).

As we already know (see the second article), all that would have had a heavy internal repercussion of the ‘Ndrangheta decreeing the dissolution of the Crimine of Toronto which would be followed by the establishment of a new Crimine, the Crimine of Siderno, open only and exclusively to the Locali originally from this small town in Calabria.

However, we cannot ignore that the present set of hypothesis is in evident contrast with opinions expressed by various police sources to the press immediately after the murder of Carmine Verduci. According to them, he had suffered mortal revenge by the Rizzuto crime family from Montreal for his alleged adhesion to the failed attempt, headed by Salvatore Montagna, to overthrow the leadership of that well-known criminal organization, indicatively between 2009 and 2011 (if so, the killing in question would be part of a war/clash belonging to Category 3 Sub.1 of the same aforementioned categorization).

The next article will deal specifically with this very likely (grave) error of interpretation.


(End of Part 2.)

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