Rob Lamberti, Special to the Toronto Sun
TORONTO - Police attribute at least five hits to Calabrian mob assassin Salvatore “Sam” Calautti.
More than likely, the man who owned the Cinquelire restaurant on Dufferin St. in Toronto is probably behind even more, say police.
The 41-year-old father of three children was violent, enjoyed inflicting pain and made a lot of money for his bosses.
“Him? There’s five (hits) that we know of, probably more,” said a police source. “You can probably even double the number.
“He was very unique, a one-of-kind type of guy,” the source said. “That was their own words. That’s their own words, of the gangsters, that he was one of a kind. He was a difficult guy to control, difficult guy to manage. But … he’s the type of guy who makes a lot of money.”
And the totals on how many people Calautti assaulted, shot, or tortured during his violent reign of terror?
“Hundreds,” the officer said.
But the question that is on police investigators’ minds is if the slaying of Calautti and his associate James Tusek, 35, could be the mark of Montreal mob chieftain Vito Rizzuto reclaiming his command over the Ontario underworld.
He once had powerful influence over the dealings of the Mafia and the Calabrian ‘Ndrangheta in Eastern Canada until he was jailed for his role in the deaths of three New York area mobsters. His leadership was challenged while Rizzuto served his 10-year sentence in a Colorado jail.
Since his return to Canada last October, there has been a settling of accounts in Quebec, police said.
It was long thought by police that the bloodshed in Quebec wouldn’t occur in Ontario, only because Ontario is a quiet, safe place to launder their millions of dollars earned in drug trafficking, gambling and other mob businesses.
But now police wonder if the murder of Calautti early Friday outside a Vaughan banquet hall is Rizzuto exacting vengeance for the slayings of his father Nicolo, his son Nick and other important members of his organization.
One of those significant players in the Rizzuto organization was Getano Panepinto who was murdered in October 2000. He was slain to maintain the peace with the Rizzuto group following the murders of Calautti’s close associates Domenic Napoli and Antonio Oppedisano.
Napoli and Oppedisano were muscling in on Panepinto’s illegal gaming machine business. It’s believed the two were murdered in the basement of Panepinto’s casket shop on St. Clair Ave. W.
Toronto homicide detectives removed chunks of concrete in hopes of finding microscopic forensic evidence of the slayings.
Investigators were told the Napoli and Oppedisano were buried under a Scarborough shopping mall, but their remains were never found.
Calautti was acquitted of the 1996 murder of Guiseppe Conguista, who was riddled with bullets following a discussion about a $500 debt. He was however jailed for a shooting incident.
Calautti, who is close to people on the ‘Ndrangheta’s Camera di Controlo, is also believed to be involved in the slaying of Rizzuto’s father Nicolo.
Nicolo was killed by a sniper’s bullet in 2010 as he sat to dinner with family, in the same manner that former Montreal Calabrian mobster Rocco Violi was assassinated in 1980. Violi’s two brothers were also murdered during the violent transition that led to Nicolo’s rise to power.
Police sources say if Calautti’s slaying is linked to Montreal, then the motive is vengeance.
But did Calautti’s murder harbour a second message from Montreal, urging Ontario’s Calabrian mob leaders to abandon any thought of rebellion and to toe the line?
“You have to consider it,” said an investigator. “You have to consider the drug rip angle, it’s hard to say. With (Calautti), he was doing robberies, he was doing drug rips, he was borrowing money and never paying (back). The suspect list is a cast of thousands, and they’re all plausible.”
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