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The Rizzuto family is a Mafia organization based in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. The family territory covers most of southern Quebec and Ontario.[1] The FBI considers the family connected to the Bonanno family,[1] but the Canadian law enforcement considers it a separate crime family. The Rizzuto family was once part of the powerful Montreal Cotroni family until an internal war broke them apart.


In the 1970s an internal war broke out in the Cotroni crime family between the Sicilian and Calabrian factions.[2] The Sicilian faction was led by Nicolo Rizzuto and the Calabrian faction was led by family boss Vic Cotroni. This lead to a violent mafia war in Montreal leading to the deaths of Paolo Violi (who was a capo of a crew for Vic Cotroni) and others in the late 1970s. The war ended when Vic Cotroni the Calabrian leader had to let go the Silican faction led by Nicolo Rizzuto. Today the family is considered the strongest crime family in Canada. The leader is Vito Rizzuto the son of the first leader Nicolo Rizzuto.[3][4]

Vito Rizzuto's style of business was a striking contrast to flamboyant American mobsters like John Gotti. He remained at the top of Canada's criminal underworld by keeping a low profile, working only with trusted people close to the family, and spreading the wealth around. He is credited with playing a major role in bringing a truce in the deadly war between the Hells Angels and the Rock Machine in Quebec. The Rizzutos worked with both Sicilian Mafia and Calabrian ‘Ndrangheta families, the Cuntrera-Caruana Mafia clan (which branched out from Sicily to Canada and South America), Colombian drug cartels and the five Mafia families of New York, in particular the Bonannos and Gambinos. Rizzuto was the mediator who oversaw the peace with the Hells Angels, the Mafia, street gangs, Colombian cartels and the Irish mobs such as the West End Gang when the order of the day was co-operation.[4][5]

After consolidation of their power in the 1990s, the Rizzutos became over-exposed and over-extended. Vito Rizzuto was arrested in January 2004 for his involvement in the 1981 gangland killings of three rival Bonanno crime family captains and was sentenced to ten years in May 2007. In November 2006 the senior leadership of the criminal organization was hit by a police operation, dubbed Project Colisee. Among the 90 people arrested were Nick Rizzuto, father of Vito Rizzuto, Paolo Renda, Vito Rizzuto's brother-in-law, and Francesco Arcadi.[6]

On December 28, 2009, Nick Rizzuto Jr., son of Vito Rizzuto, was shot and killed near his car in Notre-Dame-de-Grâce a borough in Montreal on December 28, 2009.[7][8] The killing of Nick Jr. – the face of the organization on the street – illustrated the power vacuum within the upper ranks of Montreal organized crime.[9][10]


  1. ^ a b Humphreys & Lamothe, The Sixth Family, p.308
  2. ^ Organized Crime in The Canadian Encyclopedia
  3. ^ A humble beginning, National Post, November 23, 2006
  4. ^ a b The man they call the Canadian Godfather, National Post, February 26, 2001
  5. ^ Reorganized crime, The Globe and Mail, September 26, 2008
  6. ^ Mob takes a hit, The Montreal Gazette, November 23, 2006
  7. ^ "Mobster's son slain in street", National Post, December 29, 2009 (accessed December 29, 2009)
  8. ^ "Who was Nick Rizzuto Jr.?", The Montreal Gazette, December 28, 2009 (accessed December 29, 2009)
  9. ^ Slaying sends chilling signal, The Montreal Gazette, December 29, 2009
  10. ^ Slaying hits at heart of Canada's mob, National Post, December 30, 2009

See also



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