The victim of a brazen shooting in the parking lot of a Woodbridge, Ont. café was wanted in Italy for his links to the Mafia.
Carmine Verduci, 56, was a well-known player in organized crime groups in the Toronto area, multiple sources have told CTV Toronto.
Officers who were called to the scene on Regina Road found the body of the male victim at approximately 2 p.m. on Thursday.
York Regional Police said it was unclear whether the man was at the café or leaving the business at the time of the shooting.
Police are looking for two male suspects seen fleeing the scene of the shooting in a grey compact car that may have been a Honda Civic. One of the men is white, short and slim, and was wearing a black or grey hoodie and dark coloured baggy pants at the time of the shooting. Police have only said that the other suspect is a white male.
Authorities said there were several witnesses in the area at the time of the shooting, and asked anyone with information to contact the homicide unit at 1-866-876-5423, ext. 7865, or email email@example.com. Witnesses can call Crime Stoppers anonymously at 1-800-222-TIPS, leave an anonymous tip online, or text YORK and a tip to 274637 (CRIMES).
Mafia ties in Ontario
The victim's identity was confirmed by a police statement, but they have not mentioned his alleged Mafia ties.
However, Verduci was one of eight Canadians named on a warrant from the Italian authorities charging him with Mafia links in March. The men were named as part of Operazione Il Crimine, or Operation Crimini.
Italian police alleged that Verduci is associated with the Calabrian mob called 'ndrangheta. The warrant said that he was heard speaking with the gang leader Giuseppe Commisso during a wiretap in 2009.
The organization is based in Siderno, in the Calabria region of Italy, and is accused of drug trafficking, extortion and money laundering.
The warrant also named seven men living in Thunder Bay, Ont.: 65-year-old Giuseppe Bruzzese, 54-year-old Cosimo Cirillo, 74-year-old Cosimo Etreni, 65-year-old Rocco Etreni, 70-year-old Antonio Minnella, 59-year-old Rocco Minnella and 61-year-old Vito Minnella.
Legally, the men cannot be extradited or deported for charges that are not offences under Canadian law.
Canadian law does not make membership to criminal organizations a crime, so prosecutors must prove a member's actions helped the organization commit an indictable offence.
Organized crime expert James Dubro says Verduci’s murder is likely tied to the sudden passing of mob kingpin Vito Rizzuto, who died in December of natural causes.
Rizzuto’s death, Dubro said, left a power vacuum, which has in turn caused a deadly turf war in Montreal’s criminal underworld.
“There’s a lot up for grabs in the old Mafia world here in Canada, which has been around for a hundred years,” Dubro told CTV News. “But we don’t really have strong leadership right now.”
With a report from CTV News’ Peter Akman