Three more charged in Little Italy execution-style killing
Published Wednesday, February 20, 2013 8:15AM EST
Last Updated Wednesday, February 20, 2013 6:23PM EST
A man described as a major Niagara drug kingpin has been charged in connection with the execution-style killing at a café in Little Italy last summer.
Nicola "Nick" Nero has been charged with first-degree murder in the shooting death of Johnny Raposo, Toronto Police announced Wednesday. Nero has been in custody since May, 2012, when he was arrested as part of a drug raid in St. Catharines, called Project INK.
Raposo, 35, was gunned down on June 18, 2012, while watching a Euro Cup soccer game with dozens of people on a patio at the Sicilian Ice Cream Shop on College Street, east of Ossington Avenue. He was pronounced dead at the scene.
A second man was injured but recovered.
Another man, Martino Caputo, has also been charged with Raposo’s murder and is currently in custody in Germany. He was recently picked up on an international arrest warrant emerging out of Project INK. Caputo is currently being held by German officials; the Public Prosecution Service of Canada is seeking his extradition.
A third man, Rabih Al Khalil, is also wanted on a first-degree murder charge. He is also wanted by Niagara Regional Police and Quebec provincial police for drug- and organized crime-related offences.
Al Khalil is described as 5foot 10 and 170 pounds, with dark hair.
Homicide Squad Staff Insp. Greg McLane told a news conference at police headquarters Wednesday that Al Khalil is known to frequent both the Ottawa and Montreal areas, and also has contacts in British Columbia.
McLane said Toronto detectives have been working with police in Vancouver, Niagara, Montreal, York, Quebec and the RCMP on the Raposo investigation.
“The cooperation of law enforcement agencies is crucial to multi-jurisdictional investigations of this magnitude,” he said. “It has always been the belief of investigators that John Raposo was the victim of a targeted murder and it’s alleged that the murder plot involves an aspect of organized crime.”
Police said at the time of the shooting that Raposo had been targeted. Reports said a man dressed in construction clothing walked up to Raposo and fired several gunshots at close range.
Three days after the shooting, police charged 26-year-old Dean Wiwchar, of B.C. with first-degree murder. Wiwchar has pleaded not guilty.
Nero was once an up-and-coming super-heavyweight bodybuilder and placed seventh in the Canadian Bodybuilder Federation's Canadian Championships in 2003.
Nero was charged by Niagara Regional Police in May, 2012, with drug possession for the purpose of trafficking, conspiracy to possess for the purpose of trafficking, conspiracy to import cocaine, conspiracy to traffic drugs, conspiracy to launder proceeds of crime and obstruct justice.
Those charges came after a 14-month joint forces investigation that included the seizure in February, 2011, of 110 kilos of pure cocaine worth $30 million discovered in a warehouse in St. Catharines.
Police allege Nero led the drug operation and Caputo was his right-hand man, with al Khalil playing a role. Investigators believe Raposo was blamed when police uncovered the plot, and say that may have been the motive for his murder.
Police allege the three accused hired Wiwchar, a suspect in several Vancouver hits, to kill Raposo.
With a report from CTV Toronto’s Tamara Cherry
Nicola 'Nick' Nero has been charged with first-degree murder in the shooting death of Johnny Raposo.
John Raposo is shown in this handout photo.
Dean Wiwchar, the suspect arrested in connection with the Little Italy shooting, appears in court on Friday, June 22, 2012. (CTV News / John Mantha)