By SEAN FARRELL
MONTREAL (AP) — A man with high-level ties to organized crime in Montreal was shot dead north of the city, Quebec provincial police said Friday.
Surete du Quebec Sgt. Claude Denis confirmed the victim’s identity as 67-year-old Rocco Sollecito. Denis said Surete’s major crimes unit has taken over the investigation because the murder has possible links to organized crime, and they will work in collaboration with police in Laval, where Sollecito was shot.
Sollecito was pronounced dead after being hospitalized. He was reportedly once the right hand man of the late Vito Rizzuto, the reputed head of the Montreal Mafia.
Sollecito’s murder comes after his son, Stefano, was arrested in November in a major drug sweep and accused of being an influential leader of the Montreal Mafia. Also arrested that same month was Leonardo Rizzuto, who police say worked with Stefano in a large-scale drug-trafficking operation.
Stefano is the son of Vito Rizzuto, the alleged leader of the Rizzuto crime family who died of natural causes in 2013, shortly after his release from a U.S. prison.
Vito Rizzuto returned to Canada in October 2012 after serving a prison sentence in Colorado on racketeering charges related to three Mafia killings in New York City in 1981. While he was in prison, his once-dominant empire was decimated by setbacks and his own family was devastated by tragedy.
The Rizzuto family sustained damage in 2006 following Operation Colisee, a five-year police investigation that culminated in mass arrests in the largest sweep against the Italian Mafia in Canadian history.
Rizzuto’s eldest son, Nicolo Jr., was killed in broad daylight in December 2009. The shooting set off killings and disappearances targeting some of Rizzuto’s closest allies and associates.
In November 2010, Rizzuto’s father, Nicolo Sr., was shot and killed as he prepared to sit down to dinner with his wife and daughter. The 86-year-old was gunned down with a sniper’s bullet through a window in his mansion.
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