Alleged Toronto-area Mafia leaders named as suspects in massive Italian crime probe


 ADRIAN HUMPHREYS 

Alleged leaders of some of the strongest Mafia clans in the Toronto area are named as suspects in a large-scale drug, guns and money-laundering case in Italy, with prosecutors saying the mobsters – the “elite” of the underworld – also dealt in softer commodities: tulips and chocolate.
More than a dozen current or former residents of Canada are named as suspects by prosecutors in Italy in their sweeping international investigation revealed Monday and hailed as “historic.”
“This investigation is important because it involves the richest ’Ndrangheta families that are able to work at the same level compared to the American Mafia and have control of ’Ndrangheta organizations in Canada, especially in Toronto,” said Nicola Gratteri, a prosecutor in Italy.
“We are speaking about the most powerful ’Ndrangheta families,” he told reporters in Italian. “We are dealing with the ’Ndrangheta elite. We are really speaking about the true ’Ndrangheta.”
More than 50 people were arrested or are wanted for arrest in Italy for alleged involvement.
Prosecutors filed detention orders against the accused in Rome and in Reggio Calabria, the capital of the southern Italian region where the ’Ndrangheta, the proper name of the Mafia there, was born.
There were no immediate signs that anyone in Canada was being arrested as a result of the probe, sources say.
Prosecutors in Italy said their investigation focused on several key clans, all of whom have a long and strong influence in Canada: Commisso, Aquino-Coluccio and Crupi clans. They are often referred to by police in Canada as “the Siderno Group” because of the proximity of their homes to Siderno, a picturesque town on the Ionian coast.
Several of the men linked to the current case were named in 2010 in a National Post investigation on the alleged Mafia presence in Ontario. At the time, Italian authorities revealed they tracked seven primary ’Ndrangheta families in the Toronto area, each with its own presumed boss.
The new allegations name four of those seven alleged bosses: Cosimo Figliomeni, 50, of Vaughan; Antonio Coluccio, 45, formerly of Richmond Hill; Angelo Figliomeni, 52, of Vaughan; and Domenico Ruso, 70, of Brampton. None could be reached for comment late Tuesday.
Also named is a man currently in custody in Canada and his son: Carmelo Bruzzese, 66, is challenging in court his deportation order to Italy for immigration violations and Italian authorities list him as a “fugitive” in prosecution documents; his son, Carlo Bruzzese, 30, is also listed as wanted and said to be living in Canada.
Carmelo Bruzzese has previous denied being a mobster, saying: “This is a big lie.”
Rocco Remo Commisso is also named. He has, for decades, been named as a part of the mob in Canada. He was convicted in 1981 of three counts of conspiracy to commit murder and in 1984 for involvement in a bombing in which one person was killed.
Others named as wanted but living in Canada by Italian authorities are: Nicola Coluccio, born in 1944; Antonio Crupi, born in 1995; Francesco Commisso, born in 1956; Francesco Commisso born in 1948; and Francesco Crupi born in 1992.
Also named are three brothers who lived in Canada before returning to Italy: Antonio Coluccio, Giuseppe Coluccio and Salvatore Coluccio.
 “There are definite links to Canada,” said an Italian government source. “It is a very complex operation. There is more than one project in Italy and they joined them together because they discovered that different prosecutors were investigating the same groups.”
European prosecutors say the organization was dealing in a variety of commodities, including the flower market in the Netherlands and about 250 tonnes of Lindt chocolate previously stolen in Italy.
Gratteri told reporters that in a previous investigation, the clans around Siderno, in southern Italy, were found to have 500 gunmen ready to take up arms.
The investigation continues and those arrested have not had a chance to mount a defence to the accusations or their detentions.

National Post