Italy’s probe against ‘elite’ Mafia clans sparked by chats between two former residents of Canada

Conversations between Giuseppe and Antonio Coluccio started a probe leading to the arrest of more than 50 alleged mafiosi in Italy and warrants against a dozen in Canada

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TORONTO — An international probe in Italy that struck the underworld “elite” — some of the strongest and wealthiest Mafia clans — began when police eavesdropped on conversations between two former residents of Ontario, the National Post has learned.

The conversations in Italy between a man deported from his life of luxury in Toronto in 2008, and his brother, who left Canada under pressure from authorities in 2010,  sparked the drugs, guns and money probe that brought the arrest of more than 50 alleged mafiosi in Italy and warrants against a dozen men living in Canada.

The probe began after the release from an Italian prison of Giuseppe Coluccio, 49, who was deported from Canada in 2008 to face his sentence.

After his release in 2012, he worked to re-establish his family’s position in the top echelons of the Mafia, authorities in Italy say. Wiretaps allegedly captured him discussing plans with his brother, Antonio Coluccio, 46, who lived in Richmond Hill, north of Toronto, until 2010.

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The Coluccio brothers came to Canada in 2005 from Marina di Gioiosa Jonica, a town on Italy’s Ionian coast.

They are sons of a respected Mafia member who was killed in a mob feud when the boys were still young. They revere their father, and Antonio had a five-foot-tall painting of the patriarch hanging inside his million-dollar home north of Toronto.

Giuseppe, the eldest of three sons, was seen in Toronto as the leader of the family and was immediately accorded power and respect. Known locally as “Joe,” he is said to have immediately been elevated to Ontario’s Camera di Controllo — the board of control for local clans of the ’Ndrangheta (the proper name of the Mafia born in the Italian region of Calabria).

Adrian Humphreys

He lived a luxurious life of waterfront condos, high-end vehicles and a chauffeur until his arrest in 2008.

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Despite being named as a danger to the public by immigration officials, he could be amiable: he invited a reporter from the Post to attend a soccer game in Calabria with him, since he was destined to be forced back home.

Police in Italy have maintained an interest in the family ever since, which led to one strand of the interwoven police probe announced this week.

The probe targeted three main mob families, authorities said: Aquino-Coluccio, Commisso and Crupi clans. They are often referred to by police as “the Siderno Group” because of the proximity of their homes to Siderno, a town on the Ionian coast. All have long and strong ties in Canada.

A dozen men living in Canada are named in the arrest orders in Italy, but they do not need to fear imminent arrest.

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Legal proceedings used in Italy to order the arrest and detention of about 70 accused mobsters cannot be used to seek extradition from a foreign country, Italian authorities said.

The men are arrested under a prosecutor’s order of detention — considered a special move to expedite bringing someone into custody, usually to prevent an impending crime — rather than on a judge’s order.

  1. Alleged Toronto-area Mafia leaders named as suspects in massive Italian crime probe

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  3. Former Toronto-area man arrested in Italy, called dangerous Mafia clan’s ‘most important personality’

Only a judge’s arrest warrant meets the international legal threshold under which an extradition request could be made to authorities in other countries.

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“This kind of order hasn’t any value abroad. At this moment there isn’t any order for people living outside of Italy,” said an Italian government source.

“That doesn’t preclude anything in the future.”

On Tuesday, the Post revealed 12 men in Canada are among those wanted for arrest in the probe. Prosecutors said investigators uncovered drugs, weapons and financial crimes as well as deals in tulips from the Netherlands and chocolate from Switzerland.

The RCMP declined to comment on the case. An RCMP spokeswoman would not say whether the force was working with Italian authorities or investigating the findings of the prosecutors in Italy.

Those named by Italian authorities are: Carmelo Bruzzese, 66, who is already challenging a deportation order in the Federal Court of Canada; Carlo Bruzzese, 30, his son; Rocco Remo Commisso, 69; Cosimo Figliomeni, 50; Angelo Figliomeni, 52; Domenico Ruso, 70; Nicola Coluccio, 71; Antonio Crupi, 20; Francesco Commisso, 59; Francesco Commiss, 67; and Francesco Crupi, 23.

None of them face any charges in Canada. None have had an opportunity to dispute or test the allegations.

National Post

• Email: ahumphreys@nationalpost.com | Twitter:

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