Skip to main content

The Globe and Mail

Ontario’s gangsters more likely to go unnoticed, Quebec corruption inquiry hears

A sign points to the Charbonneau commission, a public inquiry into corruption within Quebec's construction industry, in Montreal September 17, 2012.

CHRISTINNE MUSCHI/Reuters

The discreet methods of Ontario mobsters allow them to escape heavy scrutiny from law enforcement in the province, according to a top mafia investigator who testified at Quebec's corruption inquiry.

Unlike Quebec, where a number of top-level gangsters have been eliminated in high-profile hits and kidnappings and brought under intense public scrutiny, the Ontario mafia finds quieter ways to deal with problems and protect turf, according to Detective Constable Mike Amato of the York Regional Police.

Quebec has established a special squad and a public inquiry to tackle corruption while police have carried out a number of spectacular busts going back a decade. Ontario police are more likely to have only a handful of investigators probing very specific crimes, the 25-year police veteran said.

Story continues below advertisement

"If you don't have blood in the streets, why would you commit resources," Det. Amato told the Charbonneau commission investigating the infiltration of the construction industry by organized crime.

Det. Amato described how Ontario police forces are regularly outmanoeuvred by gangsters who use their great wealth to evade traditional police methods. Gangsters "will buy a first-class ticket to Aruba" for a meeting, making it impossible for cash-strapped police forces to use traditional methods of surveillance to bust gangs.

"They don't have the bureaucracy we do . . . and they're as wealthy as the Rothschilds," Det. Amato said.

The nature of Ontario's dominant gangs also helps explain their quiet domination of a wide range of illicit industries, from drugs to illegal gambling to stock manipulation and bribing public officials.

The dominant branch of organized crime in Ontario is run by Calabrian families, known as the 'Ndrangheta. A mob expert named Valentina Tenti described earlier this week how 'Ndrangheta gangs are built on blood ties, making them more likely to maintain solidarity and secrecy.

By contrast, the Sicilian Rizzuto family, which has ruled Montreal for decades, has a wide variety of members, including Calabrians and people from non-Italian ethnic backgrounds.

While the system of "subjugation and intimidation to maintain power" is the same, the member-by-invitation system of the Sicilian gangs make them more vulnerable to infiltration, betrayal and internal strife, Dr. Tenti said. "Infiltration of the ('Ndrangheta) is much more difficult."

Story continues below advertisement

Report an error Licensing Options
About the Author
National correspondent

Les Perreaux joined the Montreal bureau of the Globe and Mail in 2008. He previously worked for the Canadian Press covering national and international affairs, including federal and Quebec politics and the war in Afghanistan. More

Comments

The Globe invites you to share your views. Please stay on topic and be respectful to everyone. For more information on our commenting policies and how our community-based moderation works, please read our Community Guidelines and our Terms and Conditions.

We’ve made some technical updates to our commenting software. If you are experiencing any issues posting comments, simply log out and log back in.

Discussion loading… ✨

Combined Shape Created with Sketch.

Combined Shape Created with Sketch.

Thank you!

You are now subscribed to the newsletter at

You can unsubscribe from this newsletter or Globe promotions at any time by clicking the link at the bottom of the newsletter, or by emailing us at privacy@globeandmail.com.