Organized Crime in Canada: A Quarterly Summary
July to September 2013
ORGANIZED CRIME ACTIVITIES
- Drug Trafficking
- Tobacco Smuggling
ORGANIZED CRIME GENRES
Organized Crime Activities
In October, Benoît Roberge, a recently retired Montreal police investigator, was criminally charged based on allegations he sold information from ongoing police investigations to the Hells Angels. Specifically, he was charged with obstructing justice for the profit of a criminal organization, attempting to obstruct justice by divulging information, contributing to the activity of a criminal organization and breach of trust. According to the charges filed by the Crown, Roberge provided the information on open police cases while he was a police officer, between January 1 2010 and October 2013. The offences allegedly occurred in St-Denis-de-Brompton, which is located in the Eastern Townships near Sherbrooke. According to Quebec Provincial Police, Roberge was arrested at his home in Montreal in the company of a man described by police as a member of the Hells Angels.
The charges are particularly alarming because Roberge was a long-time, high-profile member of police enforcement units dedicated to combating outlaw motorcycle gangs. This gave him privileged access to sensitive police intelligence gathered on the Hells Angels and other one percenter biker clubs. As part of his duties the former detective-sergeant was the handler of high-profile informants from Quebec’s outlaw biker world, including the now-deceased Dany Kane, who was a member of the Rockers, a puppet club of the Quebec Hells Angels Nomad chapter. Kane was instrumental in collecting evidence that led to mass arrests of Hells Angels during Operation Springtime in 2001.
Police became suspicious when it became clear that members of the Hells Angels were being tipped off about ongoing police investigations. As Sûreté du Québec Inspector Michel Forget vaguely told the media, “Certain worrisome elements were detected relative to investigations involving organized crime. These irregularities set off an investigation to find out if members of organized crime were able to obtain information on ongoing investigations. He added, “Organized crime has gotten to such a level that its members will do everything to infiltrate police forces.” Forget also told the media that no other police officer appeared to be involved and he did not foresee any other arrests.
Roberge retired from the Montreal police in August of this year. Since then (and at the time of his arrest), he worked as a senior investigator for Revenue Quebec’s intelligence division. Revenue Quebec issued a statement indicating that Roberge had been “provisionally” suspended from his job.
Roberge’s arrest follows a similar high-profile case in which Ian Davidson, another Montreal police detective, was accused of peddling names of police informants to members of the Rizzuto Mafia family. He killed himself in January 2012 while under investigation.
Sources: Montreal Gazette, October 7, 2013, Former Montreal police officer charged with gangsterism; Canadian Press, October 7, 2013 Ex-cop accused of selling info to biker gangs; CBC News, October 7, 2013, Ex-Montreal officer arrested for alleged leak to Hells Angels
Poly Drug Trafficking
On August 15, the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) announced that Wayne Douglas Rutherford was charged as a result of a seizure of 53 kilograms of cocaine and 22 kilograms of methamphetamine at the Ambassador Bridge in Windsor, Ontario. Rutherford, an Ontario resident, was driving into Windsor from the U.S. on August 4, 2013 with a commercial shipment of produce from California when he was referred for secondary examination by the CBSA. With the aid of a mobile x-ray machine, inconsistencies were discovered in the front wall of the cargo trailer. After removing a number of interior panels, CBSA inspectors found numerous packages, which contained cocaine and methamphetamine. The 61-year-old resident of Colborne, Ontario was charged by the RCMP with two counts of unlawfully importing a controlled substance and two counts of possession of a substance for the purpose of trafficking.
On June 26 2013, the Canada Border Services Agency seized 62.3 kilos of cocaine at the Pacific Highway port of entry in B.C. The truck was referred to a secondary inspection after the driver could not adequately describe the contents of his load as he crossed the border from the U.S. The truck was then off-loaded and 56 bricks of cocaine were discovered in five cardboard boxes sitting on two pallets. The drugs were concealed in a truckload of food products being shipped from California. According to the CBSA, “This is the single largest interception of cocaine in British Columbia since July 2011, when officers seized 115 kilograms of the illegal drug, also at the Pacific Highway port of entry.”
On July 4, the CBSA and the RCMP announced the seizure of 18.2 kilos of cocaine at the Toronto’s Pearson International Airport. The cocaine was discovered on June 17 when CBSA officials discovered several suspicious packages in the men’s washroom in the CBSA’s primary inspection hall at Terminal 3. According to a CBSA news release, “Upon examining an overhang above the washroom stalls, officers found multiple plastic wrapped packages with orange and white tape, a cellular phone, batteries, a charging cord and a battery charger. Subsequent testing proved positive for suspected cocaine. “A total of 16 packages were removed from the overhang. Exactly a week later, on July 11, CBSA officers working at Terminal 3 at Pearson Airport discovered 11 kilograms of cocaine hidden in a suitcase on a flight arriving from Trinidad and Tobago. “Toronto continues to be a shipping and trans-shipping point for local and other point drug smuggling,” according to Inspector Dean Dickson, Officer in Charge of the RCMP Toronto Airport Detachment.
Sources: Canada Border Services Agency News Release, July 4, 2013, CBSA and RCMP seize suspected cocaine found hidden in a washroom ceiling at the Toronto Pearson International Airport; Canada Border Services Agency, July 24 2013, CBSA seizes suspected cocaine at Toronto Pearson International Airport
On August 12, 2013, the CBSA made a seizure of more than 50 kilos of cocaine at the Port of Halifax. CBSA officers noted anomalies in x-ray images while examining a marine container containing a shipment of tire changers and balancers from Panama. After further examination officers located and seized 40 bricks of hidden cocaine totalling approximately 53.5 kilograms. It was determined that the cocaine was ultimately destined for Ontario. The narcotics were turned over to the National Ports Enforcement Team (NPET) which is comprised of the CBSA, RCMP and Halifax Regional Police for further investigation. On August 25, members of the RCMP conducted a controlled delivery in Vaughan, Ontario which resulted in two arrests. Just two days after cocaine was discovered at the Halifax commercial seaport, the CBSA at the port of Montreal seized 24.7 kilos. While examining a marine container, officers noticed a sports bag among the merchandise boxes and after searching the suspicious bag they found the 21 separate packages containing the cocaine.
Source: Canada Border Services Agency Press Release, August 28, 2013, Significant seizure of cocaine leads to joint investigation and two arrests; Canada Border Services Agency Press, August 22, 2013, CBSA seizes 24.7 kg of suspected cocaine at the port of Montréal
On June 19, the CBSA seized 3 kilos of heroin at the Montréal-Trudeau Airport. The heroin was found in the suitcase of a traveller arriving on a flight from the United Arab Emirates. The border services officers searched the suitcase and found the suspected drug packed and concealed in a false bottom.
On July 2, the CBSA and Peel Regional Police seized 10 kilos of heroin at Toronto Pearson International Airport during a routine inspection at an airport warehouse. CBSA officers were examining shipments off a flight from Pakistan when they discovered a suspicious box. Upon examination, they found inside the box a sports bag filled with four plastic wrapped packages sealed with brown packing tape. When the officers opened the packages they found a substance that later tested positive for heroin.
On July 30, during another routine inspection of cargo arriving on a flight from Pakistan, CBSA inspectors found four plastic-wrapped packages sealed with brown packing tape inside a black backpack. When opened, officers found 10 kilos of what was later confirmed to be heroin.
Sources: Canada Border Services Agency Press Release, July 3, 2013, CBSA seizes 3 kg of suspected heroin in a passenger’s suitcase at the Montréal-Trudeau Airport; Canada Border Services Agency Press Release, July 11, 2013, CBSA and Peel Regional Police seize suspected heroin at Toronto Pearson International Airport; Canada Border Services Agency Press Release, September 18, 2013, CBSA officers seize heroin at the Toronto Pearson International Airport
On August 20, 2013, CBSA officers at the Edmonton International Airport flagged an air cargo shipment from the United Kingdom declared as green tea. The shipment consisted of 20 boxes on two wood pallets, each containing four commercially packaged plastic bags. Upon opening each of the plastic bags, inspectors found a clear plastic bag containing dried and loose green leafy plant material, which tested positive as khat. In total, 160 kilograms of dried khat was seized. According to the CBSA, this is the 24th seizure of khat in Alberta in 2013.
In Greater Toronto alone, the CBSA has seized nearly 3,000 kilograms between January and May of 2013. In 2012, over 10,000 kilograms of khat were seized by CBSA officials working in the GTA. Most of the seizures were intercepted by CBSA border services officers working at Pearson Airport, including the Passenger and Commercial Operations Districts, as well as the International Mail Processing Centre.
Khat is the green leaf of a plant native to east Africa, which carries the scientific name Catha Edulis. The active ingredients are cathine and cathinone, which produce a stimulant effect similar to amphetamine when the green parts of the plant are ingested. Khat is a stimulant that since 2005 has been considered by the World Health Organization as an addictive drug. There are no accepted medical uses for khat. Under the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act, it is illegal to import khat into Canada.
Sources: Canada Border Services Agency Press Release, September 6, 2013, Massive khat seizure at Edmonton International Airport; Canada Border Services Agency Press Release, July 26, 2013, CBSA intercepts over 13,000 kilograms of khat in the GTA
In September, the RCMP in B.C. seized 12,000 marijuana plants that were just about to be harvested on Crown land in the Pemberton area. A spokesperson for the RCMP told the media that between August 23 and September 6, they discovered 25 illegal grow operations in the area. The sizes of the different grow-ops ranged from 150 to 1,009 plants, although all of them were located on steep hills. Next to some of the larger plots, police found camps with sleeping and living areas, as well as equipment and food set up to support a crew of six to eight people for weeks. A tent that was used to dry the harvested bud, along with generators and 200 liters of fuel and packaging equipment, was also discovered by police.
At the end of September, a RCMP investigation into a major drug distribution network in Northern Quebec and Nunavut culminated with three searches and three arrests. According to the RCMP, the criminal network was involved in the exportation of cannabis to Aboriginal communities in Northern Quebec, Nunavut and Nunavik. A 52-year-old Montréal resident, the alleged main supplier, is among the individuals arrested. Several arrests and other searches also took place in Nunavut and Nunavik. During the investigation, police seized over 1,000 marijuana plants and 50 pounds of cannabis buds in the greater Montréal area. The investigation revealed that the drugs were grown and packaged in the Montréal area, and shipped by mail to remote areas in Northern Canada. The drugs were then distributed by local dealers. The money to pay for the transactions was transferred electronically using credit cards. According to the RCMP the criminal network had been active for many years as a major drug supplier, selling drugs in remote communities at very high prices.
A 2012 intelligence report by the RCMP says organized criminal networks are taking advantage of Canada’s medical marijuana program to produce the drug and supply it to the illicit market. The report, which was completed in May of 2012 and recently released to the Canadian Press under the Access to Information Act, indicates that criminals are using family members and associates with clean police records to circumvent safeguards that have been put in place.
Criminal groups are currently exploiting Health Canada’s MMAR program,” says the report, adding “at least one high-level criminal organization — identified as a national level threat — is proactively seeking opportunities to exploit future MMAR guidelines currently being developed by Health Canada.”
“Gaining access to or control of a medical marijuana grow operation is highly desirable for criminal networks due to the array of opportunities it would present for the illicit production and diversion of high-grade medical marijuana,” according to the report.
It also notes that screening an applicant through a criminal record check is insufficient to keep criminal offenders from infiltrating and exploiting the program, given the use of nominees.
In 2010, a RCMP review of medical marijuana licence holders concluded that 70 were violating the terms of their agreements. In 40 of the cases, licence holders were trafficking marijuana illegally. A typical illegal tactic used, according to the RCMP, is to produce marijuana in excess of the quantity allowed under a Health Canada permit with the excess being diverted to the black market.
The findings follow numerous warnings and reports of illegal activity linked to Health Canada’s Marijuana Medical Access Regulations initiative. In its 2009 Drug Situation report, the RCMP wrote, the MMAR “is susceptible to exploitation by drug trafficking organizations.” In March of this year, the RCMP along with the Niagara Regional Police laid criminal organization charges in what they described as an “egregious exploitation of Health Canada’s Medical Marihuana Access Regulations.”
Health Canada has announced a complete reworking of how medical marijuana is produced in Canada— in part due to concerns about the risk of criminal exploitation. Under the existing program, to be phased out by April 1, 2014, individuals are issued licences to grow marijuana for their personal use to help ease the symptoms of their medical conditions. Under Health Canada’s new medical marijuana program, individuals will no longer apply for licences to grow plants at home. Instead, licensed producers will cultivate marijuana for distribution to individuals whose health-care providers agree it is an appropriate treatment. The government says the licensed producers will be subject to extensive security and quality-control requirements. In addition, dried marijuana will be shipped through a secure delivery service directly to the address the client specifies.
At a news conference in September, Ontario Provincial Police officials announced they seized raw methamphetamine and the chemicals used to make the drug in five separate labs — two in Toronto and three in the Peterborough area. Police seized more than 110,000 meth pills, which they say is one of largest methamphetamine seizures in Ontario’s history. The OPP estimated the drugs had a street value of $40 million. They also speculated that the meth was likely destined for markets outside of Canada.
In total, police seized: 120 kilograms of pure methamphetamine (enough to make four million pills), 110,483 meth pills, 14 kilograms of meth powder (ready to be pressed into pills), five vehicles, and $81,000 in cash.
One lab, located about 180 kilometres east of Toronto in Campbellford, was guarded by a bear trap hidden beneath a pile of leaves, according to police. Police say another lab located in nearby Warkworth was also used to produce raw meth, and was one of the largest illegal drug labs ever discovered in the province. Another pill-pressing lab was found north of Toronto in Aurora while the precursor chemicals used to make the pills were found in a storage locker in Markham, Ont., just north of Toronto. The drug labs were operating inside homes and businesses, unknown to neighbours nearby.
Five people face multiple charges, including drug trafficking and possession of a controlled substance. The arrests came in July after a months-long investigation involving multiple police forces and spearheaded by the OPP’s Asian Organized Crime Task Force.
Two residents of Kelowna, B.C. are facing trafficking charges after police seized more than 10 litres of GHB (gamma-hydroxybutyrate), several ounces of cocaine, crack cocaine, and crystal meth, 10 bottles of methadone, and small amounts of heroin, marijuana and various pills. The seizures and arrests took place on August 27. A 33-year-old woman and a 47-year-old woman, both from Kelowna, were arrested and then released.
GHB has become known as a date rape drug, in part because it can be surreptitiously added to drinks rendering a victim unconscious. The drug, sometimes known as liquid ecstasy, is also taken recreationally as a stimulant and aphrodisiac.
“Large quantities of the drug GHB is turning up in Kelowna more often than not,” according to local radio station AM 1150. “Over the past couple of years, large quantities of the drug have been located during raids in the community, indicating the drug is more prevalent in recreational use.” The news radio station cites Kelowna RCMP Constable Kris Clark, who said the sheer among of GHB being seized in recent years indicates the drug is easy to obtain. “We’ve had a series of seizures of the past two years. From the small ones, about 600 millilitres, so a little water bottles, all the way up to several gallons.”
Other Western Canadian cities are also reporting an increase in the supply and use of GHB. CBC News in Edmonton reported that in July, local police made one of the largest GHB seizures ever in Alberta. Police seized 106 litres of the precursor chemicals, enough to make more than 10,000 doses with an estimated street value of $212,000. The GHB was seized on July 9 as a woman unloaded boxes of one-litre bottles at a home in northeast Edmonton. The two-month investigation also yielded $80,000 worth of cocaine and $15,000 in cash.
Sources: The Province [Vancouver], September 5, 2013, Two charged after huge Kelowna drug bust; AM 1150, September 26, 2013, Large quantities of GHB turning up in Kelowna, CBC News, July 12, 2013, Date rape drug GHB pushing aside ecstasy. GHB becoming favourite drug at Edmonton raves, dance parties
On July 30, the Canada Border Services Agency seized 14,370 kilos of fine cut tobacco, with an approximate street value of $1 million, from a tractor trailer at the Peace Bridge in Fort Erie, Ontario. A commercial driver was entering Canada at the border crossing with a shipment declared as corrugated boxes destined for a recycling plant in southern Ontario. The driver was referred for a secondary inspection where CBSA officers found that the shipment actually contained 132 boxes filled with undeclared tobacco.
Less than a month later, the CBSA made another seizure of loose leaf tobacco at the Ambassador Bridge in Windsor. On August 14, a commercial driver entered Canada with a shipment declared as frozen apple slices. After this driver was referred for a secondary inspection, CBSA officers found 116 boxes filled with 15,497 kg of loose leaf tobacco with an approximate street value of $1.9 million. The driver, an Ontario resident, was arrested and charged.
On September 2, 2013, a commercial driver entered Southern Ontario through another official port of entry with a shipment declared as rubber mulch. During a secondary inspection, most of the shipment was in fact 14,505 kilos of loose tobacco with an approximate street value of $1.8 million.
According to the CBSA, since January 2013, border officers in the Southern Ontario Region have seized tobacco with an estimated street value of $8.3 million.
Sources: Canada Border Services Agency, August 2 2013, CBSA seizes tobacco valued at $1 million at the Peace Bridge; Canada Border Services Agency, October 4, 2013, CBSA seizes tobacco valued at $3.7 million at the Ambassador Bridge
In July, five members and associates of the so-called United Nations gang in British Columbia pleaded guilty to conspiracy to murder their arch rivals, Jamie, Jarrod and Jonathon Bacon of the Red Scorpions gang. The guilty pleas entered in B.C. Supreme Court in Vancouver brought to an end a four-year-long criminal case. The five who pled guilty were Yong Sung John Lee, Dilun Heng, Barzan Tilli-Choli, Karwan Ahmet Saed and Ion Kroitoru.
According to the Province newspaper in Vancouver, “the UN gang was so keen to kill the Bacon brothers that it set up a reward system offering bounties to get the job done.” The bounty on Jamie, the youngest brother, was as high as $300,000, Jonathon’s was $200,000, and Jarrod, $100,000.
An agreed statement of facts filed in B.C. Supreme Court provided details on the conspiracy to kill the brothers. According to the Province newspaper:
The statement said that around 2006, the UN gang’s drug dealing operation in the Fraser Valley area was disrupted by the Bacons soon after the two groups merged. The Bacons and their Red Scorpion associates conducted drug rip-offs of the UN in the area, and the conflict escalated in 2007 when UN gang leader Clay Roueche was targeted by the Bacons and shot at by one of their associates, according the statement. At first, none of UN gang members were willing to shoot any of the Bacons and Roueche contracted with outside persons to conduct the killings, including members of the Fresh Off the Boat Killers Gang from Calgary. Roueche used various members of the conspiracy for different tasks, including registering vehicles for his and others’ use in their names and driving him to various locations. Photos of each brother and a list of their vehicles — including their license plates — were made available and UN gang members was expected to participate in the intelligence gathering. In addition to the reward system, Roueche made several payments, including one $4,000 payment and one between $2,000 and $4,000. One of the conspirators, who cannot be identified under the publication ban, was provided with a vehicle and a handgun. In early 2008, at Roueche’s request, the gang familiarized themselves with locations where the Bacons and their associates were expected to visit — including the Port Moody residence where it was believed Jamie Bacon lived …
In August 2011, Jonathon Bacon, the eldest brother, was gunned down as he drove away from the Delta Grand hotel in Kelowna. Jarrod Bacon is still alive and was convicted in February 2012 in a major cocaine conspiracy following a police undercover operation. He is currently serving a 12-year jail term. Jamie Bacon has been in jail since he was arrested by police in 2009. The following year, he was sentenced to seven years on weapons and drugs charges. He is also awaiting trial in the so-called Surrey Six slayings, where he is charged with first-degree murder and conspiracy to commit murder. Jamie has survived numerous attempts on his life, including a drive-by shooting in April 2007 at the Bacon family home, which he survived, thanks to a bulletproof vest.
In July, Calgary police laid charges against five men in six gang-related killings in the city (two of whom were innocent bystanders). The Calgary Herald calls this a “milestone in a long-running war between two criminal factions” however the newspaper cautions, “police and prosecutors still have a long legal journey ahead.” According to the Herald, “police have now laid charges or secured convictions in eight of the 25 homicides with known connections to the conflict between FOB and the FOB Killers.”
The arrests were the result of Operation Desino (Latin for “desist”), a major police investigation into gang violence in Calgary. In particular, murder and criminal organization charges were laid against five men associated with the FOB gang in connection with three killings that took place at the height of the gang war in 2008 and 2009. The violence between the two rival gangs stretches back to 2002 and, in a media interview, Calgary police Chief Rick Hanson vowed that his officer are continuing their efforts to identify suspects behind the unsolved murders.
The public shootings have waned, but as Hanson put it, “Just because you don’t see the overt signs of gang violence like a few years ago, it’s not because this has gone away.”
Violence between the two gangs flared as recently as April of 2013, when FOB member Nicholas Chan was stabbed and nearly killed.
The thirty-five year-old Chan, who is considered the leader of the FOB gang, himself is charged in connection with all three homicide cases stemming from Operation Desino, according to the Herald newspaper: “the killing of Kevin Anaya, who was shot in front of a home in Marlborough in Aug. 2008; the shooting of Kevin Ses and Tina Kong at a northeast Calgary restaurant in Oct. 2008; and the triple homicide of FK member Sanjeev Mann, cocaine dealer Aaron Bendle and bystander Keni Su’a at the Bolsa Restaurant on Jan. 1, 2009.” When the charges were laid, Chan was on the lam and police had no leads as to his whereabouts. All four of the remaining suspects were in police custody, some of them already serving time for similar crimes.
Much of the evidence that led to the arrests through Operation Desino was provided by FOB members Hans (Jay) Eastgaard and Michael Roberto, who agreed to testify against the gang in exchange for immunity from prosecution. Because much of the information provided to Desino investigators came from former FOB members, police were not able to lay charges against the rival FK gang.
Sources: Calgary Herald, July 19, 2013, Gangs remain a threat in Calgary, police chief warns; CTV Calgary, July 19, 2013, Arrests made in organized crime murders, one suspect remains at large; CBC News, July 18, 2013, 5 men charged in gang-related murders; Calgary Herald, August 31, 2013, Gang threat remains in Calgary, say police
In early October, Toronto Police announced they’d laid charges against 40 individuals, including alleged members of the Galloway Boys gang. According to the Toronto Star, a murder involving a mistaken identity that is part of “an ongoing gang war over drug turf in Scarborough” was “the catalyst for the largest round-up of the Galloway Boys gang in nearly a decade.” Toronto police told the media that 24-year-old D’Mitre Barnaby was mistaken for someone else when he was murdered by two assassins, who are still at large. Barnaby’s death prompted two major police investigations which led to the arrests of 41 individuals, including 25 alleged members of the Galloway Boys and 12 with the Orton Park gang. In total, they were charged with more than 400 offences, including attempted murder.
As the Star reports, several of those charged had already been arrested in previous Toronto Police investigations targeting gangs. “The accused, ranging from youth offenders to age 38, appear to be a mixture of the alleged old crowd and what some have called the “new generation” rising through the ranks — leaving some gang experts questioning what real impact the sweeps have had in the past nine years.” Toronto-based gang expert Michael Chettleburgh told the media, “It’s like a big game of whack-a-mole,” … The system can’t process them and a Crown attorney that’s got banker boxes full … has got to pick and choose.”
Organized Crime Genres
In August, a 37-year-old Vietnamese immigrant named Van Ngo pleaded guilty to possession for the purposes of trafficking after he was caught with 10.3 kilograms of marijuana while travelling from North York to Kitchener. According to federal prosecutor Richard Prendiville, the arrest of Ngo in May 2012 was the result of a joint RCMP-Ontario Provincial Police investigation targeting an “Asian organized crime group” involved in drug trafficking and illegal gambling. The investigation was sparked by the discovery of marijuana compressed into airtight bags during a traffic stop in the Kingston area in late 2010. Messages left on cell phones seized by police in that case also provided evidence that an Asian crime group was involved in illegal gambling and sports bookmaking. One Kitchener woman who police accused of being a principal player in the bookmaking operation, had $300,000 in cash seized by police from a safety deposit box as well as $30,000 more at her home. In total, police raids on 13 homes in Waterloo Region and the Toronto area conducted in 2012 turned up $470,000 in cash linked to illegal gambling and 19.5 kilograms (43 pounds) of marijuana.
In July, 40-year-old Salvatore (Sam) Calautti was shot dead in his car. As reported by the Toronto Star, police suspect Calautti was involved in at least five unsolved organized crime-related murders, including that of Nicolo Rizzuto Sr., the former head of the Montreal mafia and the father of the current mafia boss Vito Rizzuto. Some Calautti’s murder was direct revenge for the assassination of the 86-year-old Rizzuto, who was shot by a sniper at his home in Montreal.
Thirty-five-year-old James Tusek, which the Star claims to be Calautti’s “longtime associate,” was also shot and killed. Both were murdered after leaving the stag of a local bookmaker at the Terrace Banquet Centre in Vaughan. The death of two men with ties to organized crime in Montreal left some speculating that the ongoing gang-related violence in that city has spread to Toronto. “It could be the beginning of a new front of struggle in the Montreal war,” organized crime expert Antonio Nicaso was quoted as saying. There is some foundation to substantiate this speculation, according to the Toronto Star:
Vito Rizzuto’s underworld enemies in Ontario are believed to have conspired with some Montreal mobsters in a war in that city that led to the murder of Rizzuto’s father, eldest son, brother-in-law and several of his closest associates.
Vito Rizzuto was released from a U.S. prison in October after serving almost six years for his role in the underworld executions of three Brooklyn mobsters in 1981. Immediately on his return to Canada, he is believed to have huddled with supporters in the GTA before returning to Montreal. Since his release, at least half a dozen of his enemies have been slain in Montreal and Sicily.
Calautti was believed to be a “made man” in the ‘Ndrangheta, or Calabrian Mafia. He was considered by police to be muscle for at least three local mob groups, including bitter enemies of Vito Rizzuto.
The police sources noted that there is extreme tension between Rizzuto’s crime group, which has Sicilian roots, and many GTA mobsters, whose roots are in the Calabrian ‘Ndrangheta.
Even before the Nick Rizzuto Sr. murder, Calautti had long and often tense relations with the Montreal-based Rizzuto crime family … Calautti was the prime suspect in Operation RIP, which investigated the 2000 slaying of Vito Rizzuto’s former right-hand man, Gaetano (Guy) Panepinto in Toronto in October 2000 … The massive Montreal RCMP investigation dubbed Project Colisée found that in 2006 that Calautti ran up more than $200,000 in gambling debts to the Rizzuto crime family. After he refused to pay, that debt was believed to be assumed by a GTA mobster.
The Star cited one police source who wondered if the killing was set up by someone who Calautti trusted because it is surprising that someone with Calautti’s hitman street sense could be ambushed in his car. “It’s hard to think someone snuck up on him. Sam was the type of guy who always carried a gun,” according to the Star’s police source. As the Toronto Star writes, Calautti “commanded considerable fear in underworld circles because of his proclivity for violence. “Sam was such a hothead,” the police source said. “He had beefs with everybody.” It’s no surprise he met a violent end, he added. “It’s something that eventually was bound to happen.” “He loved to do (debt) collections … Loved to beat people, always had a gun. Anything in the violent end of gangsterism is what he would do … He always, always, always travelled with another organized crime figure.”
Sources: Toronto Star, July 13, 2013, Slaying of hitman and his friend has expert wondering if Montreal’s Mafia war is coming to Toronto; CTV News, July 13 2013, Man who might have murdered Nicolo Rizzuto shot dead in Toronto
In September, the media reported that in 2007, the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) issued a cheque for $381,737 to Nicolo Rizzuto. At the time of the payment, the taxation agency had a $1.5-million lien on Rizzuto’s home in Montreal based on charges of tax evasion, which meant he would not be eligible for any sort of tax refund. Rizzuto was also in jail at the time after being convicted of extortion, bookmaking and drug smuggling.
According to the CBC, the cheque, which was labelled “income tax refund” and dated September 13, 2007, was made out to “Nick Rizzuto” and mailed to his house in north-end Montreal.
Jean-Pierre Paquette, a now-retired CRA auditor who specialized in tracking organized crime figures, spotted the payment as he was reviewing Rizzuto’s file. Paquette then took the initiative to retrieve the cheque from one of Rizzuto’s daughters. In media interviews, Paquette was baffled as to how a tax rebate cheque (and a big one at that) could have being sent to someone who had such a huge tax bill, not to mention a known Mafia figure. He believed that in order for such a cheque to have gotten past internal controls, there must have been some inside help. “I can guarantee you that in order to issue a cheque for $382,000, you need approvals; no one can wake up one day and do that,” Mr. Paquette, said in an interview. “How did that one manage to go through the safeguards? It remains a mystery.”
The cheque has given rise to allegations of corruption in the Montreal office of the CRA. There is some precedent to this assertion. According to the Globe and Mail, “The CRA has been shaken by allegations that its Montreal offices were infiltrated by a group of corrupt employees who offered favours and special deals to taxpayers in exchange for kickbacks. An investigation launched in 2008 resulted in fraud and corruption charges against six former officials. The cases are all still before the courts.”
Furthermore, the CBC writes,
Evidence has emerged that some revenue agency officials in Montreal might have received tens of thousands of dollars in cash and other benefits, including a trip to a Montreal Canadiens game, from people and businesses they were auditing. There are also allegations some CRA agents tried to extort restaurateurs whose taxes they were assessing. One of the businessmen alleged to have bribed auditors, Francesco Bruno, is a construction executive with ties to the Rizzutos. So far, the CRA has fired nine employees. Six of them have been charged by the RCMP with crimes ranging from breach of trust to tax fraud to extortion. The RCMP says the total amount of taxes avoided through the corrupt schemes could total in the tens of millions of dollars.
Rizzuto pleaded guilty to tax evasion in 2010 and paid a fine of more than $200,000 after failing to declare $728,000 in interest revenues on $5-million in Swiss bank accounts.
Sources: The Globe and Mail, September 25 2013, CRA’s $381,737 cheque to Mafia boss raised red flags, ex-auditors say; CBC News, September 26, 2013, CBC My Region – Revenue Canada corruption feared over cheque to Nicolo Rizzuto
Carmelo Bruzzese a 64-year-old Italian citizen who has lived in Canada on and off for the past five decades, was being held by Canadian authorities on an immigration warrant following a 2012 warrant issued for him in Italy on Mafia-related charges. Bruzzese was put behind bars in Canada because he was ruled a flight risk after his arrest in August by the RCMP. A spokesperson for the Canada Border Services Agency, said Bruzzese was arrested on August 23 under the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act, deems a permanent resident or a foreign national inadmissible to Canada “on grounds of organized criminality.” According to the CBSA spokesperson, “The CBSA is alleging that Mr. Bruzzese is inadmissible to Canada due to his membership in a criminal organization … the “CBSA has diligently pursued an investigation into Mr. Bruzzese, and is now in a position to make a case against him based on the necessary evidence.”
Bruzzese’s family members provide some indication of the family’s links to the mafia, according to the Toronto Star.
His daughter is married to Antonio Coluccio, who was deported to Italy in 2010 because of connections to organized-crime figures. Coluccio was not charged with any crime in Canada, but his brothers Giuseppe and Salvatore are in custody in Italy on international drug-trafficking charges. Giuseppe and Salvatore Coluccio had lived in York Region in the mid-2000s. Bruzzese’s son Carlo, a Canadian citizen by birth, is in custody in Italy, serving a six-year sentence for the Italian crime of Mafia association. In 2009, Italian police secretly filmed Bruzzese and others talking at a shopping mall in Siderno, Italy, with Giuseppe (Il Mastro) Commisso, considered a leader of a powerful faction of the Mafia called ‘Ndrangheta. … Commisso was sentenced to 14 years and eight months in prison on various organized-crime charges as a result of a two-year police project called Operazione Crimini. Those secretly recorded conversations picked up Bruzzese gossiping with Commisso and telling him about infighting among ‘Ndrangheta factions.
Outlaw Motorcycle Gangs
Four Canadian members of the Hells Angels were arrested in Spain for allegedly smuggling 500 kilograms of cocaine into the county with the aim of distributing it, according to a statement from Spanish Ministry of the Interior. The statement said that the men were arrested near the city of Pontevedra, a port in the northwest of Spain. One of the Canadian Hells Angels members had arrived in the coastal city by yacht, allegedly having sailed from Colombia with the drugs. The others were already in Spain and were planned to begin distributing the cocaine there, according to the Spanish statement.
Kim Bolan, of the Vancouver Sun, identified two of the Canadians as full-patch members of Hells Angels chapters in British Columbia: Jason Cyrus Arkinstall of Mission and Chad John Wilson of Haney. The other Canadians facing charges in Spain are Scott Smitna and Michael Dryborough, both of whom Bolan identifies as associates of the Hells Angels in Mission and Haney. As Bolan writes, the 40-year-old Arkinstall “has an extensive criminal record and has been convicted of offences ranging from assault causing bodily harm to trafficking in cocaine, for which he was sentenced to 18 months in jail on July 28, 2005.” Wilson also has a criminal record, having “pleaded guilty in South Dakota in 2009 of being an alien in possession of a firearm. He was sentenced to four years in prison. Wilson was earlier acquitted, along with fellow HA member John Midmore, of attempted murder for an Aug. 8, 2006 gunfight with members of the rival Outlaws biker gang. Wilson and Midmore claimed they acted in self-defence when they wounded five people linked to the Outlaws.”
There is also evidence of an American Hells Angels connection. One of the three men who met the yacht carrying the cocaine is member of the San Diego chapter, the statement from Spanish authorities said. Bolan also notes that Wilson is a former member of the San Diego chapter of the Hells Angels.
Sources: Associated Press, September 14, 2013, Spanish police arrest 4 Canadian Hells Angels on suspicion of smuggling 500 kilos of cocaine; Vancouver Sun, September 16, 2013, Canadians arrested in Spain linked to B.C. Hells Angels
On September 14, René Charlebois a high-ranking member of the now-defunct Nomads chapter of the Hells Angels in Quebec, escaped from the minimum security Montée St-François correctional facility in Laval. Less than two weeks later, Charlebois’s body was discovered by police in a residence in Ste-Anne-de-Sorel, Quebec. It is believed that he committed suicide. He was 48 years old. According to the CBC, police officers “from the Sûreté du Québec’s tactical squad were outside the Ste-Anne-de-Sorel residence around 1:15 a.m. to carry out an arrest warrant when … they heard a gunshot.”
Charlebois had been imprisoned since 2003 based on a number of convictions, including second-degree murder (for killing a police informant), conspiracy to commit murder, drug trafficking, and participation in a criminal organization. Charlebois was made a full-patch member of the powerful Nomads chapter of the Quebec Hells Angels in 2000.
The CBC reported that “Charlebois isn’t the first Montée St-François inmate to escape.” His constitutes one of several escapes from the federal prison over the past few years. “Last year, a prisoner who escaped said he simply just pushed a door open and walked out.”
When asked why a violent, chronic offender such as Charlebois could be imprisoned in a minimum security prison, a Correctional Service Canada official explained that he had been through several institutions since first being incarcerated in 2003. “Generally speaking, only offenders who are assessed as having a lower risk to public safety are placed in a minimum security institution, and Corrections Canada will evaluate all offenders and place them in facilities that are appropriate to their security and program requirements,” the spokesperson said.
Based on National Parole Board (NPB) records, the Ottawa Citizen reported in July that Paul (Sasquatch) Porter, President of the elite Ottawa-based Nomads chapter of the Hells Angels “now wants out of the gang business and intends to turn in his colours with ‘honour’ so he’s not looking over his shoulder in retirement.”
Porter is perhaps one of the more well known HA members in the country. Porter was a founding member of the Rock Machine, one of the Hells Angels biggest rivals in Quebec during the 1990s. After waging a bloody war of attrition against the HA, which claimed more than 150 lives, Porter was part of a mass defection of rival bikers to the Hells Angels in Ontario. The defection helped establish a critical mass of HA chapters and members in that province.
In 2012, he pled guilty to cocaine possession and was sentenced to two years. Porter, who is now 50, was denied parole in June of this year. NPB records indicate that Porter expressed a desire to leave the Hells Angels honorably, which means membership of the chapter would have to increase “so his exit would not force it to close” according to the Ottawa Citizen. “Hells Angels by-laws require each chapter to have at least six members to keep official status.” As part of its parole decision, the Citizen quotes parole board documents as saying, the NPB “discussed your relationship with the (Hells Angels) and confirmed that it is your stated intention to leave ‘with honour’ so that you would not place yourself at risk in the future, as you would if you were to leave dishonorably,” board members said in their June decision.”
According to the Citizen, “Porter, who has been working as a cleaner while serving his sentence at an undisclosed prison, received a score on an evaluation indicating he is a low risk to re-offend — enough to earn most prisoners parole. What’s more, Porter has been a model inmate with no institutional charges or security concerns, according to his prison file.” However, the NPB did not buy his apparent assertion that he is not a violent offender. “You claim that you have never been violent, either as a member of the Rock Machine or the Hells Angels even during the time that the two groups were engaged in a deadly war,” parole officials wrote. “You appeared to want the board to believe that these motorcycle gangs were violent but … that you were uninvolved. Rather, you claimed to be a peacemaker during that time.”
NPB officials also indicated that his parole was denied because of his leadership role in the Hells Angels. “Although your criminal history is not particularly dense, it does include convictions for drugs and weapons, but more importantly, we cannot ignore your participation in a leadership role within (a) motorcycle gang for many years. We believe that you have deeply entrenched criminal values and attitudes and that your adherence to your criminal associates is particularly strong. This is a risk issue that has not been mitigated following your arrest or conviction, and has convinced the board that your risk to the community would be undue at this time. Therefore, day parole and full parole are denied,” the board ruled.
The Toronto Star is reporting, “six years after their Eastern Ave. clubhouse was shut down by police, the Hells Angels have apparently returned to the neighbourhood.” In particular, a new retail store with ties to the biker gang was opened at 98 Carlaw Ave. on the east side of Toronto. While fairly non-descript, the store boasts “81” in two-metre-high red numbers in the window, which identifies the store’s affiliation to the Hells Angels (the numbers refer to the eighth and first letters of the alphabet, for “HA” or Hells Angels). Inside the store are t-shirts, sweatshirts and stickers emblazoned with the HA’s colours (red, white and black) as well as skulls, flames and “Support Local 81 Downtown” logos. Coffee mugs were also on sale, with the logo “Support BRM” (BRM stands for Big Red Machine, another alias for the Hells Angels).
The products for sale are not printed with the club name specifically because only members of the Hells Angels may wear the words “Hells Angels” or the copyright-protected death head logo. To make money on merchandise, the club dreamed up the pseudonyms, according to Len Isnor, head of the OPP biker enforcement unit.
“It’s something they’ve been doing for years and they make a lot of money doing it,” Staff-Sgt. Isnor says. “They used to have a chain across Canada called ‘Route 81.’ ” A Hells Angels support club in Halifax called the Dark Siders sells both Hells Angels and Dark Siders merchandise, he adds.
The Hells Angels have also set up retail stores in Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island and Moncton, New Brunswick. Some police warn that patronizing 81 stores are tantamount to supporting organized crime. Pierre Vaillancourt, a motorcycle gang expert with the RCMP in Fredericton, says most of these stores “are operated by local individuals, usually somebody connected to a bike gang … So what people are actually doing when they go in and buy clothing, they’re supporting the Hells Angels.”
Sources: Toronto Star, September 23, 2013, Hells Angels set up new shop in Leslieville; National Post, September 23, 2013, ‘I don’t want your f—ing business’: Hells Angels open up shop in Toronto’s east end… but not everyone is welcome; CBC News, March 17, 2005, Hells Angels store opens on P.E.I.
CTV News reported in August that Brian Schofield, the president of the Saint John Bacchus Motorcycle Club, has pleaded guilty to drug charges following raids in New Brunswick. Specifically, the 44-year-old Schofield pleaded guilty to possession of methamphetamine and marijuana for the purpose of trafficking. According to CTV,
Police say the charges were laid following a six-month investigation by the Saint John Police Force, RCMP, Rothesay Regional Police Force and the Canada Border Services Agency … Police seized amounts of methamphetamine, marijuana, prescription pills, two firearms, ammunition, two brass knuckles and more than $4,100 in cash. Investigators say the drugs have a street value in excess of $21,000. Three men, including Schofield, and three women were arrested in the raids. Schofield was also charged with possession of oxycodone for the purpose of trafficking, possession of a prohibited weapon, and possession of the proceeds of crime. He pleaded not guilty to those charges.
Among the others arrested was 39-year-old Ryan Wallace, a former full patch member of the Saint John Bacchus MC, who was charged with possession of Percocet for the purpose of trafficking, possession of illegal firearms, and possession of the proceeds of crime.