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Police to crack down on Mafia in wake of multiple murders
Laval police, the Sureté du Quebec, and the RCMP are increasing patrols at areas popular with organized crime groups following several deadly attacks in Montreal's suburbs.
Laval police, with colleagues from other forces, are launching what they call Project Repercussion, which entails putting more officers in uniform in areas where gangsters frequently congregate including bars and restaurants.
Salvatore Scoppa, 49, was shot and killed outside the Sheraton Hotel in Laval earlier this month, on Wednesday Francis Turgeon was murdered in Repentigny, and then on Friday a 25-year-old man was killed at a pizzeria in Brossard.
The most recent murder that appears to be related took place in Terrebonne on Sunday evening, outside a residential home. The victim, Eric Chabot, was known to police – and his death was a suspected settling of accounts.
Laval police director Pierre Brochet said it was unacceptable that officers have yet to locate the man who shot and killed Scoppa, especially since two murders in the suburbs have taken place in public.
"We will not hesitate to double our efforts to maintain the security of citizens," said Brochet. “We can't accept what happened at the Sheraton. There were children there, families there and some of the children had to go into the kitchen and they were crying. We can't accept that.”
To that end police will be diverting resources to the fight against organized crime, including collecting information about drug sales, prostitution, fraud, and contraband.
Authorities plan to target individuals, restaurants and bars with ties to organized crime.
“For the last year, what we saw was organized crime, especially Italian Mafia, they moved in Laval. That doesn't mean that it's more dangerous for Laval residents. But what we see, they live there, they go to the restaurants. They go to cafes they live there. Rarely we have bad impact of that, but now that's changed,” said Brochet.
The attack at the hotel did cross a line, said La Presse crime reporter Vincent Larouche.
“What's different in this case is it happened in broad daylight, in a space where there were kids. The general public felt threatened, and was threatened,” said Larouche.
While all of these shootings may not be linked, Larouche said they have alarmed both the police and the public.
“At the end of the day, they are running a criminal business using violence to enforce it. And I think their business and their pocket has been more important than the general safety of the general public,” he said.
Public Security Minister Genevieve Guilbault told reporters in Montreal she's concerned about the escalating violence in recent weeks and said she supported police efforts.
"I'm shocked with what's happened in these events, notably at the Sheraton," Guilbault said Monday. "I'm worried that if these types of events happen, innocent victims who have nothing to do with organized crime could eventually pay the price."
- With files from Sidhartha Banerjee of The Canadian Press