Timeline: A decade of deadly Mob instability, Hells arrests, corruption

The past decade has not been easy for organized crime groups in Montreal.

The past decade has not been easy for organized crime groups in Montreal.

There has been deadly instability in the Montreal Mafia, the Hells Angels were arrested en masse and a provincial inquiry showed how organized crime had infiltrated Quebec’s construction industry.

Here’s a brief timeline of the biggest news events since 2010 that involved organized crime in Montreal.


Paolo Renda, brother-in-law of former Montreal Mob boss Vito Rizzuto, is kidnapped. He has not been seen since.

Nicolo Rizzuto Sr., Vito Rizzuto’s father, is shot and killed by a sniper hiding in the woods behind his Cartierville mansion. The murder remains unsolved.

A rash of firebombings of Montreal businesses is tied to an ongoing Mafia war over drug-trafficking, police said.

Nicolo Rizzuto Sr. (left) with his defence lawyer Loris Cavaliere on Feb. 11, 2010. MARCOS TOWNSEND / Montreal Gazette file photo


Trial begins for 51 Hells Angels accused of conspiracy for murders committed during the 1998-2002 biker war between the Hells and rival drug gangs in Montreal. They were among 111 full-patch Hells Angels arrested in 2009 in a police investigation called Operation SharQc.

Shots are fired at Raynald Desjardins, a close ally of Vito Rizzuto. At the time, police believed Desjardins and another man, Salvatore Montagna, were trying to take over the leadership of the Montreal Mafia because Vito Rizzuto was in a U.S. jail on racketeering charges. Montagna, the former head of New York City’s Bonnano crime family, was shot and killed later in the year.

Quebec creates an anti-corruption police squad.

A report on corruption in Quebec by former Montreal police chief Jacques Duchesneau warns of the involvement of organized crime in political financing and public construction contracts.

Surete du Quebec display Hells Angels vests seized in a series of raids on the Hells Angels. Allen McInnis / Montreal Gazette


Chénier Dupuy, leader of the Bo-Gars street gang, is gunned down in his car because, police believe, he refused to join a gang led by Gregory Woolley, a street-gang leader with close ties to former Hells Angels leader Maurice “Mom” Boucher and Vito Rizzuto.

Vito Rizzuto is released from a jail in Colorado.

Joe Di Maulo, a former Vito Rizzuto confidant who was among those who tried to take control of the Montreal Mafia while Rizzuto was in jail, is shot and killed four days before the anniversary of the killing of Nicolo Rizzuto Sr.

The Charbonneau Commission, a public inquiry into corruption, begins public hearings. The commission heard of a system of corruption of public construction contracts in Quebec. Organized crime had a hand in which companies won contracts and how much they would charge, and had corrupted government officials. During the inquiry, police surveillance videos were broadcast, showing construction bosses meeting with leaders of the Montreal Mafia. A video of Nicolo Rizzuto Sr., taking stacks of cash and stuffing it into his socks, was also shown.

A police surveillance video showing the late Nicolo Rizzuto stuffing cash from construction bosses into his socks was played Sept. 26, 2012 during the Charbonneau Commission. Charbonneau Commission


Twenty-seven Hells Angels plead guilty to conspiracy to commit murder during the Quebec biker war.

Moreno Gallo, an associate of the Rizzuto organization whose loyalty was questioned while Vito Rizzuto was in jail, is shot and killed in Acapulco, Mexico on the third anniversary of the shooting death of Nicolo Rizzuto Sr.

Giuseppe De Vito, who smuggled drugs into Canada through Pierre Elliott Trudeau Airport in cooperation with the Rizzuto organization, dies in jail. Quebec’s coroner ruled he died by cyanide poisoning. De Vito’s wife, Adele Sorella, had been convicted of murdering their two daughters.

Vito Rizzuto dies of natural causes at Montreal’s Sacré-Coeur Hospital.


Former Montreal police officer Benoît Roberge, who investigated criminal biker gangs, is sentenced to eight years in jail for selling police information to the Hells Angels.

RCMP arrest 32 people linked to the Montreal Mafia in an investigation called Project Clemenza. Police monitored more than one million Blackberry messages exchanged by those arrested. The group faced charges in connections with firebombings, attempted arson, kidnapping, assault, extortion and gangsterism.

Street gang leader Ducarme Joseph is shot and killed in Montreal’s St-Michel neighbourhood. Police later said Vito Rizzuto suspected Joseph in the 2009 murder of his son Nick Rizzuto Jr., and had planned to avenge his death.

A cache of weapons is displayed at RCMP HQ seized in Project Clemenza on June 12, 2014. Dave Sidaway / The Gazette


Fifteen more Hells Angels plead guilty to conspiracy to commit murder during Quebec’s biker war.

Police arrest 48 people in an investigation that they say showed the Mafia, Hells Angels and street gangs in Montreal were working together to control drug-trafficking. Among those arrested were Vito Rizzuto’s son Leonardo Rizzuto and Stefano Sollecito. Police alleged they were the heads of Italian organized crime in Montreal. Sollecito’s father, Rocco, was a close associate of Vito Rizzuto. Street gang leader Gregory Woolley was also arrested, and police alleged he was the “cornerstone” of organized crime in Montreal. Also arrested was Loris Cavaliere, a defence lawyer who was friends with Vito Rizzuto. In the same investigation, police said Maurice “Mom” Boucher, the former head of the Hells Angels in Montreal who is in jail for ordering the deaths of three prison guards, conspired to kill Raynald Desjardins, formerly Vito Rizzuto’s right-hand man.

The Charbonneau Commission final report is released, finding a “widespread and deeply rooted” system of corruption in Quebec’s construction industry.

Justice France Charbonneau presented her commission report in 2015. Dave Sidaway / Montreal Gazette


Lorenzo Giordano, a Rizzuto organization underboss who acted as one of the Mafia’s leaders while Vito Rizzuto was in jail, dies after being shot while sitting in his car outside a gym in Laval.

Rocco Sollecito, a longtime Rizzuto associate and one of those who led the organization while Vito Rizzuto was in jail, is shot and killed in Laval by a man who waited for him in a bus shelter.

Raynald Desjardins is sentenced to 14 years in jail for his part in a conspiracy to kill Salvatore Montagna.

A judge abruptly ends a murder trial for five Hells Angels, freeing the five bikers. He ruled that the Crown had withheld key evidence from the defence in the case. The men had been charged in connection with murders committed during Quebec’s biker war.

A shackled Raynald Desjardins enters a public security van outside the courthouse in Joliette in 2011. Vincenzo D’Alto / The Gazette


Lawyer Loris Cavaliere pleads guilty to gangsterism and weapons possession, and is sentenced to 34 months in jail. In a statement of facts read in court, Cavaliere was described as a bridge between organized crime groups who held meetings with gangsters at his St-Laurent Blvd. law offices.

An investigation by Montreal’s inspector general finds that towing companies are responsible for removing damaged cars after accidents are mostly run or backed by organized crime groups like the Hells Angels and Mafia. They control their territories through intimidation, beatings and by setting competitors’ trucks on fire.

Shane Maloney, an alleged leader of the West End Gang, is sentenced to 10 years in jail for trying to buy 25 kg of cocaine from a police undercover agent.

Shane Kenneth Maloney. Montreal police / La Presse


A Quebec Court judge drops charges of gangsterism and conspiracy to traffic cocaine against Leonardo Rizzuto and Stefano Sollecito. The judge said that police illegally wiretapped them in the conference room at their lawyer’s office.

Former West End Gang leader Allan “The Weasel” Ross dies in a Florida jail. Ross was sentenced to life in 1992 for operating an international drug-trafficking network.

Francesco Del Balso, an underboss in the Rizzuto crime organization who was arrested in 2006 in a vast anti-Mafia police investigation, is arrested and charged with threatening a Montreal television reporter.

Gregory Woolley pleads guilty to drug trafficking and is sentenced to eight years in jail.

Maurice Boucher is sentenced to 10 years for conspiring to kill Raynald Desjardins.

Gregory Woolley left, and lawyer Loris Cavaliere arriving together at the funeral for Hells Angel Gaetan Comeau in September 2012. Court files


Construction entrepreneur Tony Magi, who was business partners with Nick Rizzuto Jr., and worked on a development in Old Montreal with Vito Rizzuto, is shot and killed in Notre-Dame-de-Grâce.

Seventeen people are charged after police in Montreal and Toronto shut down an international money-laundering ring they said handled cash for Montreal crime groups. The network used connections in Lebanon, the United Arab Emirates, Iran, the United States and China to launder money before returning it to drug-exporting countries, such as Colombia and Mexico.

A judge acquits Leonardo Rizzuto of gun and drug charges that were laid against him in 2015. The judge ruled that evidence in the case was obtained illegally. It was from the Projet Magot investigation where police had bugged lawyer Loris Cavaliere’s office, where Rizzuto, also a lawyer, worked.

Police say at least 17 murders in the Montreal region in 2019 are related to organized crime. They include the murders of brothers Andrea and Salvatore Scoppa, who were both involved in the Montreal Mafia. Salvatore Scoppa was killed in May when two men burst into a Sheraton Hotel in Laval where Scoppa was attending a family party. Andrea Scoppa was killed as he walked into a gym in Pierrefonds in October. Police said in November that they would work together to investigate crimes related to the underworld as the number of shootings and killings increased.


The Montreal Gazette’s new podcast The Dark North: Gangs of Montreal looks at the history of organized crime in the past 40 years in Montreal. Our next episode, to be released in the new year, will focus on the period after former Mob boss Vito Rizzuto died in January 2013. You can subscribe to the podcast for free on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, or wherever you get your podcasts.


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