Hamilton

These are the victims of the GTA underworld power struggle

Here are the people in the region who have been targeted by mob violence in recent years.

People linked to the Musitano and Luppino families have been gunned down in recent years

Angelo Musitano, right, and Pat Musitano, left, leaving provincial court for lunch in 1998. Musitano was shot in Mississauga, Ont., Thursday morning. Angelo was killed outside his home in 2017. (Hamilton Spectator)

Mob-related violence has taken on a life of its own in Hamilton and Southern Ontario in recent years, with several high profile shootings and hits making headlines.

Experts say some sort of underworld power struggle is tearing through the region, as old scores are settled and players jockey for power in a time of unrest.

Here are the people in the region who have been targeted by mob violence in recent years.

Pat Musitano

An SUV was towed from the scene where Pat Musitano was shot in Mississauga Thursday morning. (Yanjun Li/CBC)

Musitano was the latest to be hit, going down in a blast of gunfire outside his lawyer's Mississauga office Thursday morning.

It's not the first time he has been the target of violence in recent years. His home was shot up just weeks after his brother died, and an SUV was torched in his driveway in 2015 in what police said was arson.

He's the reported head of what was once one of Hamilton's most notable crime families alongside the Papalias and the Luppinos. Musitano took over the family business when his father, Dominic, died back in the mid-90s.

The family is linked to convictions for bombings and extortion in the 1970s, as well as the hit on mobster Domenic Racco in the 1980s, and the murders of Johnny "Pops" Papalia and one of his lieutenants, Carmen Barillaro, in 1997.

Musitano and his brother, Angelo, reached a deal and pleaded to conspiracy to commit murder in the death of Barillaro. In turn, the charges against them in connection with Papalia's death were dropped. They were sentenced to 10 years in jail.

Angelo Musitano

Angelo Musitano was shot and killed outside his home in Waterdown in 2017. (Laura Clementson/CBC)

Much of the violence in the region kicked off in 2017, when Angelo Musitano was shot and killed in the driveway of his home in Waterdown.

Musitano was killed just before the 20-year anniversary of the famous hit on Papalia, to which he was forever linked.

After his death, friends remembered Musitano as having found God, and caring for his young family.

In a book of collected stories of faith called I Found Him, Musitano tells his own story.

"There are some who will know me by my name alone and will recall my past history," he wrote. "There are those who will sit in judgment of me because of my past, but these are the people who do not really know me.

"I was born into a family — not just any family but 'the family' — in other words, a family associated with organized crime."

Hamilton man Jabril Abdalla is facing murder charges in connection with Musitano's death. Two other suspects are now the subject of an international manhunt.

Mila Barberi

Mila Barberi was killed in March of 2017. (Facebook)

Abdalla is also facing charges in the death of Toronto woman Mila Barberi.

The 28-year-old was killed one afternoon in March of 2017 while she sat in an SUV parked outside a business in an industrial area of Vaughan, Ont.

She was picking up her boyfriend, Saverio Serrano, 40, who police say has connections to organized crime and may have been the intended target.

Investigators announced last year that a number of characteristics linked the shootings of Barberi and Musitano, two months later.

Cece Luppino

Police say Cece Luppino was 43-years-old. (Facebook)

As violence has hit the Musitano family, other mob families haven't escaped unscathed either.

Cece Luppino, the son of mobster Rocco Luppino, was gunned down at a Hamilton home owned by his father in January, in what police said appears to be a targeted killing.

Hamilton Police have said investigators are considering the possibility that the shooting is connected to organized crime in the region. But they have also noted Luppino, 43, did not have a criminal record, and was not known to police.

Police have said the Musitano family has not been cooperating with their investigations, but noted that the Luppino family has.

Al Iavarone

Al Iavarone worked out of Royal LePage's Hamilton office for 10 years. (RoyalLePage)

Al Iavarone, 50, was shot at his home in Ancaster last September, in what police called a targeted attack. They also said he was associated with organized crime.

Investigators said at the time of his death that Iavarone was a real estate agent and had no criminal record, but added that he was known to police.

Police say Iavarone's wife and two adult children were at home at the time of the incident. A common theme in many of these violent incidents is they occurred at the victim's home.

Vito Rizzuto

Vito Rizzuto, the most powerful mob boss in Canada before his death in December of 2013, is seen on security camera footage from a Dream Casino location in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic. (CBC)

Rizzuto isn't on this list because he's a victim; his death is noted here because several experts say it is the catalyst for much of the violence seen since.

Though not based in Ontario, experts say the death of the former head of the Montreal Mafia seems to have opened the door for the violence surging in the province. The Musitano family once formed an alliance with the Rizzuto family.

The 67-year-old died back in 2013 after being hospitalized for pulmonary problems — just over a year after his release from an American prison. Since his death, the protection he provided the Musitanos has seemingly evaporated.

In 2007, Rizzuto pleaded guilty in an American court to racketeering charges in exchange for a 10-year sentence in connection with the 1981 murders of three alleged gang leaders at a New York social club.

Rizzuto's death paved the way for upheaval in the underworld, says Antonio Nicaso, a Mafia expert who teaches courses on organized crime at Queen's University in Kingston, Ont.

"There's a power struggle left from the vacuum from Rizzuto," he explained.

adam.carter@cbc.ca

About the Author

Adam Carter

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Adam Carter is a Newfoundlander who now calls Toronto home. He enjoys a good story and playing loud music in dank bars. You can follow him on Twitter @AdamCarterCBC or drop him an email at adam.carter@cbc.ca.