Mob fugitive arrested in Rome after seven years hiding in Toronto area

Officials said that while Tito Figliomeni lived in the shadows in Canada, he was supported and protected by a large network of friends, family and Mafia associates

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TORONTO — After an Air Canada flight from Toronto touched down in Rome Thursday, a posse of Italian police officers gathered at its door, waiting for one passenger they knew was onboard. As Tito Figliomeni stepped forward, the officers surrounded him and led him from the plane.

Figliomeni, 48, was calmly arrested, photographed and fingerprinted and Italian authorities then declared him to be a senior member of the Mafia who had been on the run and hiding in Canada for seven years. The arrest did not come as a surprise to Figliomeni.

The day before Canada Border Security Agency officers put him on the plane, he appeared at a short immigration hearing, where he silently signed his removal papers and agreed to leave.

Italian authorities said that while he lived in the shadows as a fugitive in the Toronto area, he was supported and protected by a large network of friends, family and Mafia associates.

Figliomeni had a good run in Canada, lucky to land one step ahead of the law from the moment of his arrival on Sept. 16, 2010.


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When he landed at Toronto airport that day, he was questioned by the CBSA. He said he was here for the wedding of a friend’s brother and was issued a visitor’s permit.

The very next day, however, CBSA received an alert from Interpol’s office in Rome warning that Figliomeni had a criminal record for weapons offences and was under investigation for Mafia association, according to immigration records obtained by the National Post.

When CBSA tracked him down two months later, he convinced officers it was a mistake; that his weapons charge was overturned and his record expunged. He was given the benefit of the doubt and allowed time to prove his innocence. When CBSA learned his record had not, in fact, been overturned, he was still given a chance to leave Canada voluntarily, according to a transcript of his immigration hearing.


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Instead of leaving, however, Figliomeni went underground. An arrest warrant was issued for him on Dec. 23, 2010.

“And we have been looking for him ever since,” said Andrej Rustja, CBSA’s counsel at Figliomeni’s immigration hearing.

Shortly after his departure from Italy, Figliomeni was named in a large anti-Mafia probe in Italy. It accused him of Mafia association and being the man behind firms under investigation that were involved in waste management and construction. His previous weapons charge was related to a stash of guns found by Italian police during a savage Mafia war that claimed dozens of victims in Italy and Canada, authorities said.

By then, he was nowhere to be found.

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Figliomeni had plenty of friends in the Toronto area, including several cousins and, according to Italian authorities, other members of allied clans of the ’Ndrangheta, the powerful Mafia of Calabria in Italy’s south.

Police said he is part of the Rumbo-Galea-Figliomeni group, affiliated with the powerful Commisso clan of Siderno, a town on Italy’s eastern coast. The Polizia di Stato described his friends in Canada as “a dense network of logistical support.”

Police in Italy knew he was in Canada, however, because several wiretaps in Mafia probes kept catching mobsters talking about him and mentioning him.

He was involved in a dispute between mob factions in Ontario over illegal video gambling machines in bars and cafes, a dispute that required intervention from the mob clan’s leadership in Siderno, according to court documents from Italy.


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It may have been that dispute that led to his arrest.

Figliomeni was arrested on March 10 by Toronto police when officers were conducting a liquor license inspection, the Post has learned. He was not charged in the liquor probe but arrested on the immigration warrant. Toronto police could not confirm the arrest prior to deadline.

CBSA would not confirm or deny his removal, citing privacy concerns.

Tito Figliomeni arrives in Rome.
Tito Figliomeni arrives in Rome. Photo by Polizia di Stato

Figliomeni still had his Italian passport that he arrived with, although it had expired in 2013. He was a frequent visitor to Canada; records show him arriving here in April 2002, December 2003, October 2004, March 2008, and September 2009, before his last arrival.

Once arrested, Figliomeni had little interest in fighting to stay. While in detention in Maplehurst prison in Milton, Ont., he agreed to leave Canada for Italy.


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At his detention review hearing, his lawyer, Aras Daghighian, dismissed the Mafia link made against his client.

“Any greater association with criminality is simply based on newspaper words,” he said, according to a transcript. “I’m also going to say that newspaper reports are evidence of absolutely nothing, newspapers report incorrect information all the time, every day.”

He confirmed, however, that Figliomeni was content to return to Italy and would co-operate with his removal.

Daghighian could not be reached for comment prior to deadline.

At a second hearing, on the eve of his removal to Italy, an Immigration and Refugee Board member asked Figliomeni if he had anything to say; he offered only one word.


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