Brace for more violence after Pierrefonds shooting, Mafia experts warn

The brazen killing of Andrea Scoppa “is a clear indication that blood calls for blood and revenge does not expire.”

Investigators stand near the body of Andrea Scoppa, who was gunned down Monday. Ryan Remiorz / THE CANADIAN PRESS

Revenge does not expire.

As Montreal police continue to investigate Monday’s brazen shooting of Andrea (Andrew) Scoppa in Pierrefonds, organized crime experts say the killing is a sign that a decade-old conflict over who controls the Montreal Mafia is not over.

Scoppa has been described in court as the leader of a Calabrian clan operating within the Montreal Mafia. He rose up in the Rizzuto organization but his status apparently changed after the death of leader Vito Rizzuto at the end of 2013.

A few years later, while Scoppa was under investigation for trafficking cocaine, he was secretly recorded by Montreal police mocking the Rizzuto organization.

“I don’t want to be a boss. You have to hang if you want to be a boss,” Scoppa was recorded as saying during the investigation, dubbed Project Estacade.

During Scoppa’s bail hearing, an investigator interpreted those words to mean Scoppa didn’t want to be in charge of the Montreal Mafia because the job required the ability to resolve problems — something for which he did not have the patience.

Andrea Scoppa was shot in the face — “a significant insult.” Montreal police

His brother Salvatore was killed at a hotel in Laval in May. Last week, the Sûreté du Québec alleged Salvatore Scoppa orchestrated the 2016 deaths of four men, including two leaders of the Rizzuto organization. Five days after that, Andrea Scoppa was killed.

That has led to speculation the Rizzuto organization was behind the slaying as revenge for the deaths of their former leaders, Rocco Sollecito and Lorenzo Giordano.

“It is a clear indication that blood calls for blood and revenge does not expire,” said Antonio Nicaso, an expert on organized crime.

“At the same time, if anyone was about to write the obituary of the Rizzuto organization, (the Scoppa murders) would be a sign to think twice. They are still active and capable of using violence,” said Nicaso, who has written several books on the subject and teaches a course at Queen’s University in Kingston.

Nicaso said the Scoppa murders seem to confirm that Montreal’s underworld has been shaken by internal power struggles ever since Vito Rizzuto was arrested in 2004 and eventually extradited to the U.S. to face a racketeering case.

“So the war is not over yet and unfortunately, after these two murders, there will be more violence.”

A police source told the Montreal Gazette more violence is likely in the wake of Andrea Scoppa’s death. The source named two longtime Montreal Mafia leaders who might have cause to fear for their lives.

Scoppa was reportedly shot in the face — a sign that someone wanted to send a message that revenge was the motive.

“It is a significant insult,” Nicaso said. “What do you leave to the relatives? You force the family to have a closed casket at the funeral. You remove (the victim’s) identity.”

Pierre de Champlain, a retired intelligence analyst with the RCMP’s Criminal Intelligence Directorate, agrees that a shot to the face adds a potentially personal dimension to the killing.

“It might mean it was done by someone else within the Mafia — that it wasn’t done by someone who was just hired to do it, like a street gang member,” de Champlain said. “It might be that the (killer) wanted his face to be the last thing Scoppa saw.

If the war between rival groups in the Montreal Mafia was thought to be over, there are still some settling of accounts going on — “like a final cleanup,” de Champlain said.

“But does that mean that the Scoppa deaths mark a clear ending to that war? I am not convinced.”

Andrea Scoppa was known to push limits when it came to drug trafficking turf. In 2003, he began installing his dealers inside a Montreal bar that a Hells Angel had controlled for a decade.

The biker gang asked Vito Rizzuto to arbitrate the problem, but Rizzuto said he was too busy to intervene. Instead he dispatched two up-and-comers in his organization — Francesco Del Balso and Giordano — to reach an agreement.

The problem dragged on for weeks and, at one point, the Hells Angel told a man who was working undercover for the SQ that he wanted to kill Scoppa. The dispute was ultimately resolved in the Hells Angel’s favour.


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