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Saturday, 20 September 2008

Vito Rizzuto arrest warrant


11:47 |

The Rizzuto organization has formed a "Sixth Family," a Mafia clan based in Montreal that has overshadowed the Mafia's notorious Five Families of New York. Recent allegations of their presence abroad place them as one of the world's most robust criminal cartels. controlling mind behind it all was Vito Rizzuto of Mont-real, Italian authorities allege.Police in Italy issued an arrest warrant for Rizzuto, who is currently in prison in the United States for three gangland slayings. Also wanted are four men in Canada -- including Rizzuto's father, Nicolo, who is similarly in jail in Montreal awaiting trial."We believe that even from jail they are able to control the organization," said Silvia Franze, an investigator with the Direzione Investigativa Antimafia in Rome."We blocked a lot of bank accounts and money," Ms. Franze told the National Post. "We have seized many companies and hundreds of millions of Euros all around the world because we believe that behind these companies is Vito Rizzuto."
Also arrested was Mariano Turrisi, 53, the president and founder of Made in Italy Inc., an export marketing group. He is heard on wiretaps speaking with Rizzuto, police allege.Mr. Turrisi's arrest and connection to Rizzuto is particularly noteworthy --he was the senior deputy of a political movement founded by Prince Emanuele Filiberto, a last heir to the Italian throne when the monarchy ended in 1946, according to Claudio Gatti, an investigative journalist with Il Sole 24 Ore, a leading Italian business newspaper."This becomes a political story. The prince was planning to make it into a political party and he picked as his only vice-chairman Mr. Turrisi," said Mr. Gatti, who has been investigating the links.The political movement, called "Values and Future" in English, was started after Mr. Filiberto returned from exile in 2002 after the royal family, commonly called the Royal House of Savoy, was allowed to re-enter Italy.
Links to such people show the level of influence and power the Rizzuto name carries around the world, police said.Italian legal documents in the case dramatically portray Vito Rizzuto as being a global superboss.From their origins in Italy, the Rizzutos moved to Canada, where they "gave birth to a transnational society" that worked to unite the Italian mafias and create "overseas cells," a document from the Rome anti-Mafia prosecutor's office alleges.The organization sought to "manage and control the economic activities connected to the acquisition of contracts in public works" and to "commit a series of crimes -- killings, internatonal drug trafficking, extortion, frauds, smuggling, stock-market manipulation, insider trading and criminal transfer of securities," it alleges.The group used several companies listed on European and North American stock markets, including one registered in Vancouver, to develop business projects linked to gold mines in Canada and Chile, authorities allege.The Italian investigation was aided by Swiss police, who probed bank accounts and other investments. Two of those arrested were bank employees.The masses of money come from rampant international drug trafficking, authorities say, including a company that used leather clothing to mask the smell of narcotics from drug-sniffing dogs.Among those charged yesterday in Italy were Roberto Papalia, 62, a controversial Vancouver businessman who has run afoul of security regulators in Canada and the United States, who was arrested in Milan; and Felice Italiano, 61, a LaSalle, Que., businessman who had charges dropped against him more than a decade ago after one of Canada's largest drug seizures.Mr. Italiano was arrested in his Rome hotel room two hours before his return flight to Canada was scheduled to leave."I think he will remember this holiday in Italy," Ms. Franze said. His wife continued on to Canada.All are charged in Italy for Mafia association.Also facing charges are Paolo Renda, 68, Francesco Arcadi, 54, and Rocco Sollecito, 59. All three Montral men are awaiting trial, along with Nicolo Rizzuto, on charges in Canada. Other arrest warrants are pending against Canadians, the National Post has learned.Despite the allegations of high-finance and political connections, the charges stem from a small-time mob-linked swindle north of Toronto in 2001. That allowed police in Ontario to install wiretaps in Montreal.While no charges in Quebec came from that probe, evidence from it was used by the RCMP in Montreal to install more wiretaps in 2002, in what became known as Project Colisee.It was shortly after those wiretaps were turned on that police tracked regular contact between gangsters in Montreal and men in Italy. That information was forwarded to Italian authorities, who, in turn, placed several suspects under surveillance.The Italian probe brought two startling sets of allegations.The first were announced in 2005 and accused Rizzuto and former Montreal construction engineer Giuseppe Zappia (known for building the Olympic Village for the 1976 games) of conspiring to use illicit money to build a bridge connecting the island of Sicily to mainland Italy.The bridge was one of the largest public works projects in Italy and the consortium was allegedly prepared to invest $6-billion to complete it.
The second series of charges are those announced yesterday in Rome."We found there were cells here in Italy controlled by Vito Rizzuto. We found out the links between the chiefs of those cells and the companies allegedly involved in financial crimes and in acquiring land for development," Ms. Franze said.


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