Half of those charged in anti-Mafia probe in Italy are Canadians or are living in Canada, evidence of the Mafia’s ‘unbreakable umbilical cord’
As a Mafia boss visiting Canada from Italy met with alleged mobsters here in April, he warned them to be careful what they said because Canadian police might be listening. He should have looked more inwardly.
What was really happening, National Post can reveal, was that the visitor’s smartphone was unwittingly and secretly transmitting his closed-doors conversations to authorities in Italy.
On Friday, Italy’s Polizia di Stato issued 16 fresh arrest warrants on top of 12 already stemming from the trip to the Toronto area — and half of those named currently live in Canada or were born here.
The internal summaries of the police investigation, including excerpts from recorded wiretapped conversation in and around Toronto, were recently filed in court in Italy to support arrest warrants and have not yet been tested at a trial. They were translated from Italian by the Post.
The documents add further evidence to what Italian authorities call an “unbreakable umbilical cord” between the underworlds in both countries.
The latest arrests in Italy were codenamed “Operazione Canadian ’Ndrangheta Connection 2,” using the proper name of the Mafia that formed in Calabria, in Italy’s south.
Vincenzo Muià, who was among those arrested in Italy, arrived at Toronto’s Pearson international airport on March 31, with his cousin, Giuseppe Gregoraci, who was also arrested. They each travelled with a son, neither of whom was charged.
The visitors were picked up at the airport, according to documents prepared by investigators in Italy and filed in court, by Luigi Vescio and driven away in two vehicles, both registered to Fratelli Vescio Funeral Homes in Vaughan, Ont. Vescio is listed as a principal of the family owned funeral home.
Vescio could not immediately be reached for comment prior to deadline.
That home is a bomb … If they want to hear you, they hear you
Police tracked their movements, a task made easier by the serendipity that while Italian police were interested in Muià, York Regional Police were in the thick of an ambitious investigation targeting alleged Mafia bosses in Canada who Muià came to meet with.
During his discussions, Muià warned of the need to be cautious about what they said, not only in their houses but even on the street, because police can use directional microphones that record conversations by just pointing at the targets.
“Even outside they hear you,” Muià said. “You put the directional and hear what you say.”
“In my opinion, that home is a bomb,” he said after being a guest for a meal at a house in Vaughan. “That house, full of bugs. He says no, (but) I told him … If they want to hear you, they hear you.”
A man he was speaking with said people here are careful about what they say; they speak of “what the lawyers say,” adding: “We are always careful not to say other,” according to a transcript translated from Italian.
“Yes, OK, if you talk about these things it’s not a problem,” Muià said. “Otherwise, it’s a f–king problem.”
Muià was correct, their conversations were being listened to and recorded by police, but it wasn’t always because of Canadian police wiretaps (although some were in operation at the time.)
His conversations were picked up and transmitted through the cellphone Muià carried to his meetings, according to court documents.
York police and the Polizia di Stato, a federal police force in Italy, had a “direct collaboration,” with both watching and listening to various suspects, according to the documents.
Muià said he came to Canada for only one thing, to meet with Angelo and Cosimo Figliomeni, two alleged leaders within the ’Ndrangheta who left Siderno, a town in Calabria, Italy, for Canada when they faced Mafia association charges. Here, authorities allege, their underworld influence is considerable.
Muià sought answers to a gnawing question: Who had ambushed and killed his brother, Carmelo Muià, known as “Mino,” who was shot dead in Siderno on Jan. 18, 2018.