Experts ponder gang ties to weekend shootings
Three people fatally shot in the Montreal area this weekend might mean street gang wars are heating up, say crime experts.
On Friday night, 35-year-old Chenier Dupuy was gunned down in his car in the parking lot outside the Galeries d'Anjou shopping centre in the east end of Montreal.
Dupuy is reputed to be the leader of the Bo Gars street gang.
“It's been brewing for quite a while because the police have already told Chenier Dupuy that his life was in danger and that there was a contract on his head,” said La Presse journalist and author of a book on street gangs, Vincent Larouche.
Then around 2 a.m. on Saturday, Lamartine Severe Paul, 42, was shot and killed outside his apartment in the Chomedey district of in Laval.
Known to be a street gang member, court documents reveal he also had links to the Italian mafia.
“He was working as a collector,” alleged Larouche. “He would go and collect money when some people were in debt -- businessmen or mobsters. He was also working in extortion and intimidation.”
Laval police say the key indicators of a link to organized crime were the victim’s age and criminal history. Around mid-day Saturday, police transferred the case to Sûreté du Québec, which handles organized crime.
Laval police spokesperson Nathalie Lorrain said investigators believe someone was waiting for the victim.
“We think it was probably the settling of accounts between gangs or something like that,” Lorrain said.
Criminologist Maria Mourani said there are several theories why they were murdered.
“What I hear in the field is that those murders are linked to the return of (alleged Mafia kingpin) Vito Rizzuto. Some think it's the beginning of a vendetta, others believe it’s a message started with the godfather in Montreal,” she said, adding that she isn't convinced the murders are necessarily part of a gang war.
"Friday, I thought it was a possibility of a power struggle inside the Bo Gars gang. Today I’m not sure about that," she said.
Currently serving time in a Colorado prison after pleading guilty to charges in connection with the 1981 murders of New York’s Bonanno family, known to be a mafia clan, Rizzuto is slated for release in October.
Experts say street gangs have been wielding more power on the street of Montreal in Rizzuto’s absence, but Larouche said it’s not entirely clear, and best not to make assumptions about the motive behind the weekend slayings.
“You have to be careful. These are guys who made lots and lots of enemies over the years,” he said.
Questions are also swirling around the death of a 34-year-old man in a luxury apartment on Cote-des-Neiges Rd. at about 2:15 on Saturday afternoon. Riccardo Ruffolo, who has multiple convictions for drug charges, and was on probation after a 2010 conviction, was shot at least once in the upper body.
The penthouse where Ruffolo was found is owned by the former wife of a convicted drug smuggler who has ties to the mafia. Vincenzo Armeni is serving a 19-year sentence for drug trafficking, the heaviest sentence ever handed down for that crime in the province of Quebec.
So far, police won’t say if there’s a connection between Ruffolo's death and the other two.