For a long time, the mafia and organized crime in general have been interested in casinos to launder their dirty money or make loan-sharking.
Over the past few days, our Bureau of Investigation has revealed that the Casino de Montréal has rolled out the red carpet to several organized crime members, even going so far as to offer nights at the hotel or dinners at the restaurant.
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Here are a few examples of the mafia’s presence around casinos and the fears it has aroused from the 1950s to the present day.
In the early 2000s, Project Spades Ace of Spades targeted nothing less than a network of criminal rate lenders linked to the late sponsor Vito Rizzuto.
Documents from the Colisée police operation obtained by our Bureau of Investigation allow us to see what the officers of the Montreal Police Service had discovered in the Casino’s high stakes lounge, then called the Platinum section.
With the participation of a double agent, the police were able to approach two usurious lenders of Italian origin. The latter had been identified through the camera system by Casino investigators.
According to the summary of conversations contained in an affidavit filed in court, one of the two lenders indicated that he worked for Vito Rizzuto.
“It was Vito Rizzuto who placed it at the Casino de Montréal,” the allegations state, although they have not been tested in court.
The lender then mentions that it is making a 10% interest loan. The double agent and the lender speak to each other in Italian.
He introduces her to another lender he works with. In the weeks that followed, a series of searches and arrests related to these loan sharks and other members of the network took place.
Visibly surprised by the police operation, big names in the mafia, such as Francesco Del Balso, make calls to one of the Casino’s lenders. The latter then asks to meet Nicolo Rizzuto, Vito Rizzuto’s father, in a bar.
In the following days, Italian lenders learn that they are banned from the casino for three years.
Shortly afterwards, one of them said that “The Tall One”, the nickname of Vito Rizzuto, called him. He wanted to know who had been evicted and for how long.
At that point, the wiretap summaries reveal the panic of the lenders who say they are screwed and wonder how they are going to collect all the debts owed to them.
This infiltration at the Casino de Montréal was one of the elements mentioned in the extradition of Vito Rizzuto to the United States in 2004. Three years later, he was found guilty of participating in the murder of three prominent members of the Bonanno mafia clan in New York.