November 17, 2020 – The signature and most audacious murder in the ongoing Canadian Mafia War occurred ten years ago this month when Montreal mob royal Nicolo (Uncle Nick) Rizzuto was killed by a single sniper’s bullets inside his palatial estate in Cartierville on November 10, 2010. He was 86 and stuck in the crossfire of an all-out assault launched on his family’s illustrious mob realm by both enemies and allies of his son.
The epic mob hit is forever a time-marker in terms of impact. And not just in Canada, but around the globe. Uncle Nick’s whacking in Montreal is akin to the highly-sensationalized New York mob murders of Albert Anastasia (1957), Crazy Joe Gallo (1972), Carmine Galante (1979) and Big Paul Castellano (1985)
The Rizzuto crime family remains besieged by internal conflict to this day. Rizzuto was played by veteran mob-movie actor Paul Sorvino (Goodfellas) in the 2017 FX series Bad Blood. Although not an official Godfather, Rizzuto was the patriarch of the mob in Canada for 30 years, a symbol of gangland aristocracy worldwide.
Rizzuto’s son, Vito, Quebec’s “boss of bosses,” had been shipped to a U.S. prison to serve out a murder sentence, and his grandson, Nicky, had recently fallen victim to the violence that erupted in the wake of the incarceration. The criminal empire Nicolo Rizzuto built himself three decades earlier and then bequeathed to his progeny, was crumbling from within at the time of his 2010 slaying.
Rome was burning. Any semblance of peace or balance in the Canadian underworld has failed to materialize since. If anything, the war has raged even further out of control, bleeding over into a second province; the shockwaves from the unrest in Montreal are being felt today in Ontario and mafia enclaves in Toronto and Hamilton.
Rizzuto rose to power in the late 1970s, orchestrating a coup from exile in Venezuela that concluded with the January 1978 assassination of Montreal mob street boss Paolo Violi and the October 1980 sniper-rifle murder of his brother Rocco, carried out in eerily similar fashion to the way he himself would be slain almost exactly 40 years later.
Some investigators speculate the manner in which Rizzuto was murdered was a message from Violi’s sons, who took refuge in Hamilton after their father was assassinated and have since risen to be high-ranking members of the Buffalo mafia in the United States. Informants have told the Royal Canadian Mounted Police that the Buffalo mafia, sometimes referred to as the Magaddino crime family, has backed the insurgence launched by rivals of the Rizzuto clan.
Toronto mob hit man Sam (The Gun) Calautti is one of the prime suspects in the Rizzuto homicide. Members of Calautti’s crew were spotted in Montreal on the day of the murder. Calautti and his bodyguard Jimmy Tusek were killed in a shooting outside a Vaughan, Ontario bachelor party on July 12, 2013.
Vito Rizzuto had returned to Montreal the previous fall and vowed vengeance on anyone associated with the attack on his gangland kingdom. The younger Rizzuto died of lung cancer that December.
Yet, the bloodshed continues. A bittersweet legacy for sure for the once seemingly untouchable Rizzuto mob dynasty.