On-The-Rise Montreal Mafioso ‘Poncho’ Cuntrera Brought Down In ‘Project Clemenza’ Finale

Reputed Montreal mafia leader Liborio (Poncho) Cuntrera was indicted this week on drug and racketeering charges. Wednesday’s indictment is the third and final prong of what Canadian law enforcement dubbed Project Clemenza and ensnared 15 people. Project Clemenza began as an investigation in the late 2000s.

The 47-year old Cuntrera is the son of slain Montreal mob lord Agostino Cuntrera and alleged by authorities to be either the current boss or underboss of the reeling Rizzuto crime family. He is vacationing in Italy and has agreed to return to Canada and turn himself in. His dad was killed in 2010, a casualty of an ongoing street war being raged in Quebec, Ontario and beyond for more than seven years.

Last year, Cuntrera was named by French-Canadian media outlets as a member of a ruling committee looking after mafia affairs in Montreal following a near-decade of blood-soaked warfare that has cost the once immensely-powerful Rizzuto syndicate numerous shot callers, including his dad and deceased don and crime-family namesake Vito Rizzuto’s father Nicolo (Uncle Nick) Rizzuto and son Nicholas (Ritzy Nick) Rizzuto.

Vito Rizzuto himself died suddenly of cancer in December 2013, under what some claim as possible suspicious circumstances. Also named by media services as part of the Montreal mob’s ruling board was 46-year old Leonardo Rizzuto, another son of Vito’s arrested back in November on his own drug and racketeering charges.

Experts paint the recently-indicted Rizzuto and Cuntrera as the top two leaders of the Montreal mafia, heading a younger faction of the crime family moving into shot-calling roles over the past couple years. Fellow Quebec mob prince, Stefano Sollecito, 48, was collared alongside Rizzuto last fall and is considered to have a seat on the ruling committee as well.

Sollecito’s dad is syndicate vet Rocco (Sauce) Sollecito, who by some accounts, in tandem with Lorenzo (Skunk) Giordano, assumed command of the Montreal mafia on a day-to-day basis in the direct aftermath of Vito Rizzuto’s death in late 2013, prior to ceding power to the crime family’s youth movement. Giordano, 52, was assassinated in March.

Gunned down in his health club’s parking lot minutes following a workout, Giordano’s execution is just the most recent in a string of high-profile mob-related murders the city of Montreal has witnessed in the past decade, an ultra-violent, Machiavellian-like struggle for territory and rackets littering the Canadian gangland landscape with bodies reaching triple figures. The entire conflict was setoff with the incarceration of Vito Rizzuto in 2006 and his subsequently being shipped off to an American prison in 2009 to serve the final three years of his sentence for the role he played as a shooter in the infamous “Three Capos Hit,” in New York in 1981.

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