Alleged mobsters charged in sweeping fentanyl raids
Police say they infiltrated high levels of organized crime in arrests across Canada, U.S.
Nine alleged GTA organized crime members have been charged in a sweeping investigation into the fentanyl trade after raids early Thursday morning across southwestern Ontario and New York, the RCMP said.
The suspects face charges for 75 offences including trafficking fentanyl, carfentanil, heroin, cocaine and methamphetamine, as well as weapons and contraband tobacco trafficking and bookmaking.
The street demand for opiates has pulled organized criminals deeper into this trade, police said. Undercover officers allegedly bought six kilograms of fentanyl and carfentanil in six transactions in the operation.
“New trends will always continue to surface as long as there is money to be made,” RCMP Chief Supt. Michael LeSage said at a news conference in Milton.
The illegal fentanyl supply in the GTA will be affected by the arrests, RCMP Supt. Chris Leather said.
Two of the accused are grandsons of the late Giacomo Luppino of Hamilton, who was considered by police to be a founding member of the Crimine, a governing body for criminals in the ’Ndrangheta crime group and a long-standing associate of the Buffalo mob.
Domenico Paolo Violi, 51, was charged with a variety of drug trafficking offences, while a Canadawide warrant for similar crimes was issued against his brother, Giuseppe (Joe) Violi. Both are from Hamilton.
Police alleged the Violi brothers are well-established with “an international reach.”
The operation began when officers found a mobster who turned on his old associates, police said. “We had an opportunity to infiltrate some higher-level traditional organized crime members,” Leather said.
He added that police had a source “who was respected by traditional organized crime in both countries (Canada and U.S.).”
The announcement followed dawn raids Thursday morning in Hamilton, York Region, Niagara, Innisfil, Vancouver and Montreal.
Police forces involved included the RCMP, Ontario Provincial Police (OPP), and Toronto, Hamilton, Peel and York police. The operation also partnered with the OPP-led Contraband Tobacco Enforcement Team, as more than three million contraband cigarettes were seized.
The FBI in New York City conducted what the RCMP called “a parallel, but separate investigation into La Cosa Nostra in that city, focusing on members of the Bonanno and Gambino families.” Several “members and associates” of those crime families were charged Thursday with cocaine trafficking, loan sharking, extortion and money laundering.
Also assisting in the operation were Homeland Security from the U.S., the Colombian National Police and Italian police departments as well as RCMP liaison officers in Colombia, Mexico, Italy and the Netherlands.
A Toronto police employee, Erin Maranan, was also accused of leaking information and had been previously charged with 20 counts of breach of trust for database queries.
“This investigation . . . demonstrated organized crime’s ability to corrupt people in positions of public trust to further their criminal enterprise,” the RCMP said in a prepared statement. Charged on Thursday morning were: Domenico Paolo Violi, Hamilton; Dimitar Dimitrov, Stoney Creek; Adriano Valentino Scolieri, Richmond Hill; Bernardo Luke Rotolo, Woodbridge; Tran Giang Tang, Kam Tim Tong, both of Markham; Nicholas Valentine, Vaughan; Anthony James Arroyo, Waterloo; James Lincoln Jablonski, Mississauga.
A Canada-wide warrant has been issued for Giuseppe Violi; Massimi-gliano Carfagna, Burlington; Yin Yun Leong, Markham; Witton Luu, Toronto and Wojciech Grezesiowski, Innisfill. With files from Ainslie Cruickshank