The runaway bestselling expose about Canada's most infamous mafia family is finally available in English, updated to include shocking events and revelations that followed its newsmaking publication in Qu?bec.
Queens, New York, 1981. When Alphonse "Sonny Red" Indelicato and two others are found dead in a vacant lot, police fail to solve their murders. For their killer and his Montr?al family, their deaths mark the beginning of an epic rise to criminal power that will last over thirty years. But in the mid-2000s, having escaped justice for decades, father and son Nicolo and Vito Rizzuto are finally arrested and convicted, one in Montr?al and one in the United States. Meanwhile, deep inside the heart of their family, struck hard by a series of carefully plotted executions, the epic continues.
Updated and available for the first time in English, Mafia Inc.--a major bestseller even before the 2010 assassination of Nicolo Rizzuto--reveals how the Rizzuto clan built their Canadian empire through force and corruption, alliances and compromises, and turned it into one of the most powerful criminal organizations in North America. Relying on extensive court documents, police sources and sources in the family's home village in Sicily, Montr?al journalists Andr? C?dilot and Andr? No?l reconstruct the history of the Rizzuto clan, and expose how its business extends throughout Canada and the world, shaping the criminal underworld, influencing politicians and bending the will of business leaders to their own self-satisfying ends.
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Random House Canada
October 18, 2011
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Excerpt from Mafia Inc. by Andre Noel
Vacant lots have always attracted kids and always will. Those of Ozone Park are no exception. The children of this neighbourhood in Queens, one of New York's five storied boroughs, are no different from those anywhere else in the world: they love to explore these plots of land abandoned by grown-ups, where wild grasses grow freely in disorderly thatches that stir the imagination. Where heaps of rubble may hide treasures. Or dead bodies.
Until the nineteenth century, vegetable farmers still grew crops on this part of Long Island. One entrepreneur raised goats--not so much for their milk or meat but for their hides, which he fashioned into gloves. New York City's tentacular sprawl had yet to extend much beyond Manhattan; but once the Long Island Rail Road pushed through the fields that lay between Brooklyn and Howard Beach, real estate developers did what they do best: they built. They put up cottages on the farmland and gave the new subdivision a name with a suitably bucolic ring to it: "Ozone Park" evoked the pleasant maritime aromas brought by cool Atlantic breezes. Manhattan urbanites had to be quick to sign their purchase offers if they hoped to move in and have their families enjoy the healthy sea air--which they did, en masse. The area eventually attracted its share of well-known figures, including folkmusic legend Woody Guthrie. Franco-American author Jack Kerouac penned his famed beat opus On the Road here. Thousands of Italian Americans would also settle in Ozone Park, among them the infamous Mafioso John Gotti.
But on this particular afternoon of May 24, 1981, a bracing salty breeze wasn't the only thing that greeted some neighbourhood kids as they scoped out a vacant lot on Ruby Street, part of a warren of arteries in the centre of Ozone Park. They were intrigued by the sight--and smell--of "something strange" coming out of the ground. So they started digging. Accounts of what the boys discovered next diverge. One journalist wrote that they initially spotted the heel of a cowboy boot protruding from the dirt. Another version claims they stumbled upon a hand covered in fabric. As a rule, young boys are a gutsy lot--especially in a gang. Such youthful intestinal fortitude has its limits, though, and these boys turned tail and fled the scene. One ran straight home to his parents, who called the police.
Officer Andrew Cilienti oversaw the exhumation. The corpse had been wrapped in a blood-soaked drop cloth. Around the left wrist was a Cartier watch, worth at least $1,500; its hands were frozen at 5:58 a.m. and the day/date indicator read May 7. A tattoo adorned the forearm: two hearts and a dagger, symbolizing a failed romance. Elsewhere, the body bore obvious gunshot wounds: the man's life had been ended by three .38 calibre slugs. Just as obvious was the fact that the remains could not have been lying there more than a few days. Forensics technicians had no difficulty taking the victim's fingerprints, and a match soon came back: the dead man was Alphonse "Sonny Red" Indelicato. Four days later, his son-in-law, Salvatore Valenti, formally identified the body.
Sonny Red's family hailed from a town called Siculiana, in the province of Agrigento, Sicily. One of his murderers, Vito Rizzuto, was born in Cattolica Eraclea, a mere twenty kilometres away. In May 1981, Vito was thirty-five years old. Soon after the killing, he quietly made his way home to his wife and three children in Saint-L�onard, in east-end Montreal. There, he continued attending to his business at the heart of a formidable and flourishing criminal empire--an underworld network based in Montreal, with sturdy branches spread throughout Canada and ramifying into Italy, the United States, Venezuela and Colombia. By the time of Sonny Red's death, money had begun flowing in huge amounts into the coffers of that empire: the fruits of loansharking, illegal gambling, fraud, corruption and public works contracts, protection money from shopkeepers and entrepreneurs--and, especially, the proceeds from the importing and distribution of tonne after tonne of heroin, cocaine and hashish.
The name Rizzuto was known to police--but at this juncture, that was mostly thanks to Vito's father. In 1975 in Montreal, a police witness had testified before Quebec's public commission on organized crime (Commission d'enqu�te sur le crime organis�, or ceco) that Nicol� (Nick) Rizzuto intended to take control of the Italian Mafia in Quebec. It would be a decade before the name of his son, Vito, first appeared in the files of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police's (rcmp's) drug squad.