Vito Rizzuto funeral visitation a chance to 'gather intelligence,' says Mafia expert

Montreal police said officers will likely be discreetly observing the funeral home where the event will take place, and it's expected to draw a big crowd.

Visitation on Sunday will precede Monday's funeral service at Notre-Dame-de-la-Défense Church

Crime expert discusses the life and death of Vito Rizzuto 5:45

Visitation of Vito Rizzuto is scheduled for today ahead of the reputed Mafia boss's funeral on Monday in the Montreal neighbourhood of St-Leonard, and it's expected to draw a big crowd.

Montreal police said officers will likely be discreetly observing the Loreto funeral complex where the visitation will take place.

Montreal police spokesman André Leclerc confirmed that police officers will direct traffic on public property outside the funeral home, where a large crowd is expected.

A retired RCMP analyst said police often use funerals and visitations as an opportunity to update photos of persons of interest and establish any new allegiances within the Mafia.

And Mafia expert Pierre de Champlain said visitations can be an especially valuable place to gather intelligence.

He said they are more informal and often attract more people with ties to the underworld than the funerals themselves.

“It’s not the front door they’ll be watching, it’s the back,” ​de Champlain said, referring to the Loreto funeral complex, which belongs to a member of the Rizzuto clan.

“The most interesting people might arrive by car and enter by the underground garage to avoid being seen by the media and police,” de Champlain continued.

Rizzuto's 2012 return to Montreal  

Rizzuto returned to Canada in 2012 after spending six years in a U.S. prison on racketeering charges related to the 1981 murders of three alleged New York gang leaders.

Rizzuto, who died of natural causes in hospital last Monday, led a powerful criminal organization that stretched beyond Canada's borders.

His father NicoloRizzuto, Sr. — the patriarch of the Rizzuto crime family — was assassinated in his Montreal home in November 2010.

Rizzuto had three children. His son Nick, Jr. was assassinated in 2009.

A number of Mafia experts have said that Rizzuto quickly reasserted control upon his return from prison.

De Champlain said there's no apparent heir to the Rizzuto family's organization, which means his death could bring about some tumultuous activity in the underworld as members of organized crime in Montreal, Toronto and New York jockey for the Rizzuto territory.

Rizzuto's funeral is scheduled for 12:30 p.m. ET on Monday at Little Italy's Notre-Dame-de-la-Défense Church.

Loreto funeral complex:

Notre-Dame-de-la-Défense Church:

With files from CBC News

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