A man who was once the target of a four-year manhunt now faces the prospect of a lengthy prison term for drug smuggling as his wife prepares to go on trial in the deaths of their two daughters while he was in hiding. Giuseppe De Vito, 45, was targeted in Project Colisee, the police investigation into the Mafia in Montreal and its associates. Wiretap evidence suggests that while De Vito worked with Mafia leaders like Francesco Arcadi and Francesco (Chit) Del Balso, he was somewhat of an outsider. But in 2004, he and others tied to the Mafia — including Del Balso — agreed to be partners in smuggling in 120 kilograms of cocaine on an Air Canada flight from Haiti on Jan. 22, 2005. The shipment was to be packed into the false bottom of a baggage container destined for Pierre Elliott Trudeau International Airport. By then, a wide net had been cast in Colisee and the RCMP knew about the flight. What they didn't know was how much cocaine was being smuggled. As it turned out, neither did De Vito. After the Mounties seized the shipment — 218 kg packed into two containers — De Vito was revealed to have had a significant financial stake in it. In November 2006, the RCMP arrested more than 80 people as part of Colisee. But by then, De Vito had disappeared. Four years later, in October 2010, police tracked him down. He had been living under an alias in St. Leonard, just west of Montreal, and had altered his appearance by shedding weight. While he was on the lam, his wife, Adele Sorella, 46, was charged with killing their two young daughters. Her trial in Laval, Que., is to begin April 5. Two smugglers operating under Del Balso initially claimed they had no idea how the shipment had increased to 218 kg, although wiretaps would reveal at least one was aware and tried to hide it from De Vito and Arcadi. Investigators learned of the shipment because they had been closely monitoring Del Balso, Arcadi and their associates — but De Vito assumed the shipment was uncovered because the smugglers used two containers instead of one, increasing the risk of getting caught. "The risk is high you know," De Vito was recorded saying in a telephone conversation. "You're taking out two boxes; one is already dangerous." Late last year, during his trial, De Vito was faced with wiretap evidence that he attended a Jan. 31, 2005 meeting at the Consenza Social Club — the Mafia's former headquarters in St. Leonard — with Arcadi and Del Balso. De Vito claimed he had been called to the club only because he knew someone at the airport who could find out what had gone wrong with the shipment, but Quebec Court Judge Isabelle Rheault didn't buy his story. "De Vito knew what was happening," Rheault wrote in a recent decision in which she found De Vito guilty of conspiracy to import cocaine and committing a crime for the benefit of a criminal organization. "He actively participated in the activities of a criminal organization involved in international drug trafficking . . . All the elements of proof, including the statements of De Vito himself, as revealed by the wiretaps, do not support his testimony in any way." Sentencing is to begin March 2. De Vito also faces four counts related to a firearm seized from a duplex in St. Leonard when police found him in 2010. Gina Conforti, 34, whom De Vito was seeing, also is charged in the firearms case.
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