High-ranking Montreal mobster Rocco Sollecito killed
Montreal mobster Rocco Sollecito was gunned down in Quebec Friday morning, in a killing that experts say illustrates a power vacuum created when mob boss Vito Rizzuto died.
Sollecito was found shot in his car a few hundred metres away from Laval police headquarters. He was later pronounced dead in a hospital.
Quebec provincial police spokesman Jason Allard said no arrests had been made in the shooting. He did he identify Sollecito, but said the man who died was 67.
"On the scene, naturally, there were indications the event might be related to criminal organizations," Allard added.
Sollecito was a close associate of deceased Montreal mob boss Vito Rizzuto, who died of natural causes in 2013. He was released just months ago after serving an eight-year prison sentence.
His name was mentioned during the Charbonneau Commission, which looked at corruption in Quebec's construction industry. Stefano Sollecito, his son, was arrested alongside Rizzuto's son Leonardo Rizzuto, during a police drug raid last November.
Mafia expert Antonio Nicaso said he sees the killing of Sollecito as a “generational challenge” to the several men who made up the “old guard” alongside Rizutto.
Nicaso said one of the men -- Lorenzo Giordano -- has already been murdered and two others are in prison.
“It’s clear strategy to remove from the map the old guard of the Rizzuto crime family,” he told CTV News Channel. “It’s a powerful challenge, because he is targeting all the people who ran the organization when Vito Rizutto was in prison.”
The Charbonneau Commission “exposed some of (the Mafia’s) connections to politicians and businessmen,” so the organization is in a rebuilding phase, he added.
Nicaso added that Montreal remains a “strategic place” for the Mafia because of the contraband that flows through the city’s port.
Organized crime expert James Dubro said he agrees the hit signals a “generational shift,” with someone is trying to eliminate the vestiges of Rizutto’s senior team.
“There’s one or two more who might be hit,” he told CTV News Channel. “They’re in jail… but they can be hit in jail too.”
Dubro said that the Mafia is not as powerful as it used to be in Montreal, due to competition from other criminal groups including Haitian street gangs and the Hells Angels.
“They don’t respect the Mafia the way they once did,” he said. “Sometimes they work together, but sometimes they don’t.
A retired Montreal police investigator told The Canadian Press he suspects this was an “internal” hit, as opposed to a rival clan. "They are just bleeding internal,” he said. “It was a clean-up."
With files from CTV Montreal