It was a precise and planned strike into the heart of Ontario’s Mob underworld.
Outside a cafe frequented by ‘Ndrangheta members in Woodbridge, in broad daylight, 56-year-old Carmine Verduci was shot in the head and died in the parking lot of the Regina Rd. complex Thursday afternoon.
The city is where many of Ontario’s ‘Ndrangheta members feel safe. It’s their home turf. But the incursion by assassins, who police strongly believe were sent by those who have taken over Vito Rizzuto’s Montreal crime family, is sure to strike fear.
In a world often marked by symbolic maneuvers, the hit on Verduci is a significant move by the Montreal Mob.
It was Montreal’s reminder that Rizzuto’s vendetta — his quest for revenge in the murders of his father, his son and other family members in an attempted coup — didn’t end with the capo’s Dec. 23 death of natural causes.
Police sources say Verduci’s death could signal that the next targets could be higher in stature.
“This is basically putting it in their faces,” a police source said. “Verduci had huge influence” within the Calabrian underworld.
It’s the second recent venture by the Montreal mob into Woodbridge.
Calabrian mob assassin Salvatore “Sam” Calautti, a 41-year-old father of two who owned a Dufferin St. restaurant, was assassinated in an ambush last July 12 as he sat in his car outside a Vaughan banquet hall attending a stag. His killer or killers knew Calautti would be there.
The same seems to be true for Verduci. His killers knew where he would be and patiently waited for their moment.
The married father of a son and daughter had his own crew and had significant influence within ‘Ndrangheta circles.
“He wasn’t a leader, but he was pretty close,” the source said. “He was a hugely significant player. He was a central figure. (But) he’s not the boss. He’s a boss of his crew.”
The source said Verduci was a close associate of Carmelo Bruzzese and Italian authorities say he was the Canadian representative of Mob boss Antonio Coluccio. He also hosted functions attended by ‘Ndrangheta leaders.
Bruzzese is currently being held in custody while Canadian immigration authorities await evidence from Italian police. A removal order is being sought on allegations Bruzzese is an organized crime figure. Coluccio is another man who was kicked out of Canada in 2008 on the strength of information supplied by Italian anti-Mafia police.
Police sources say Verduci was involved in kidnapping, drug trafficking, gambling and is suspected in a number of murders, including an unsolved slaying in Woodbridge, and possibly in Italy.
“He was a violent man, a guy who was responsible for ... extortion to drug trafficking, to any type of violent criminal enterprise,” he said. “From prostitution, to smuggling, abduction. He was good for murder.”
Italian police discovered another strong link between Canada and Italy when a Project Crimini wiretap picked up Verduci, a Canadian citizen born in Oppido Mamertina in Calabria, speaking to crime family chieftain Giuseppe “The Master” Commisso, who ruled a global criminal empire from a laundromat. Italian police saw the Woodbridge resident as a messenger between the clans in the two countries.
Verduci was named on an Italian arrest warrant for Mafia association, a non-extraditable offence in Canada, but that 2011 warrant kept him home.
Verduci’s family tentacles spread around the world with relatives in Australia, the U.S., Italy and South America but his ability to travel was limited because he knew he would be arrested on the Italian warrant.
Woodbridge is the Calabrian ‘Ndrangheta’s power base and “killing a guy like Verduci is like saying” that none among them is safe.
“Clearly, someone needed to be held to account and (Verduci) was on the vendetta list,” the source said, who believes the hits are expected to continue.
“He is a central figure in the power base,” the source said. “They know Verduci is a guy who gets things done for them.
The source said Verduci is known to carry a gun and if he suspected he was going to be a target of a hit, he most likely would have been armed and extremely cautious in his movements. While the source didn’t know if Verduci was armed when he was killed, the slaying shows how unprepared he was and how easily the assassins moved within the victim’s turf.
Daylight hits have been common in this war between the Ontario Calabrians and the Montreal Mob. Among those hit during the day include Nick Rizzuto Jr. and his grandfather Nicolo Rizzuto. Vito Rizzuto’s brother-in-law Paolo Renda was abducted during the day, and is presumed dead. Rizzuto associate Agostino Cuntrera was assassinated in daylight.
When the guns were turned on the Rizzuto clan, the Calabrians started by killing low-level members such as the street drug dealers. They slowly moved up the hierarchy until they reached Vito Rizzuto’s father Nicolo, his son Nick Jr., and other family members who were also senior level leaders.
“The same thing is happening here,” the source said. “I think this is the message we were waiting for, everyone was wondering what was happening after Vito was gone.
“There’s going to be a lot of nervous people.”
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