Police in Montreal have broken up two criminal organizations that tried to take over the illicit drug trade after the Mafia was removed from the scene eight years ago.

After police arrested dozens of Mafia members in Operation Colisée in 2006, two groups including some people with links to the Mafia tried to fill the void.

On Thursday morning police arrested 33 people throughout Quebec who are accused of being part of those criminal organizations. Police say beginning in 2010, they organized arson attacks, kidnappings, drug trafficking and other crimes.

The suspects are alleged to have set fire at two Montreal cafes, and are also alleged to have carried out kidnappings to exert control over cocaine trafficking in Montreal.

"These two networks operated with the goal of trafficking in drugs, doing business in their respective territories in Montreal," said RCMP Superintendant Michel Arcand.

Giovanni Gerbasi of Gatineau, 49, is still at large following Thursday's operation.

Officers say now-deceased Giuseppe De Vito, a man who managed to avoid police for years before being arrested and incarcerated, headed the one of the cells.

De Vito died in prison in 2013 of cyanide poisoning, and the coroner was never able to determine if he committed suicide or if he was killed.

Even after his arrest and death, the criminal group continued to operate.

Police say the other group was linked to the Bastone brothers, and they seized $1,000,000 in assets from Roberto Bastone including properties in Laval and St. Come.

Among the items seized from a warehouse in St. Leonard were a sizable number of firearms, including several submachine guns, shotguns and semi-automatic pistols.

Officers said they intercepted more than one million personal messages sent over the BlackBerry network in order to build their case.

"This is the most important interception of its kind performed as part of a major investigation in North America," said Arcand.

Some 200 officers took part in the operation under the guidance of the RCMP's Quebec detachment.

The accused face different charges that include gangsterism, conspiracy, drug importation, trafficking, possession, kidnapping, forcible confinement, possession of weapons and explosives, arson, extortion and assault.

In total, police say more than 80 charges were filed in court and they were expected to be arraigned later on Thursday.

-- with files from The Canadian Press

Those arrested are:

  • Patrizio Silvano, 50, Laval
  • Hussein Abdallah, 23, Montreal North
  • Awada, Ali, 26, (already in prison)
  • Barberio, Davide, 34, Terrebonne
  • Bastone, Antonio, 51, St. Jean de Matha
  • Bastone, Roberto, 41, Laval
  • Castronovo, Alberto, 32, Laval
  • Cecere, Steven, 27, St. Leonard
  • Conforti, Gina Linda, 37, St. Leonard
  • Di Marco, Michele, 43, Chertsey
  • Di Marco, Nicola, 45, St. Leonard
  • Dubé, Sophie, 42, St. Robert
  • Dumoulin-Richer, Yanie, 33, Saint Agapit
  • Fetta, Giuseppe, 34, Laval
  • Flores, Jaime, 48, Unknown address
  • Fosco, Dante, 52, Montreal North
  • Fosco, Mikel, 22, Barrie, Ontario
  • Hébert, Louis-Marie, 49, Terrebonne
  • Jetté, Robert, 41, Ste Adolphe d’Howard
  • Kachouh, Hicham, 37, Unknown address
  • Karounis, Mike Markos, 63, Montreal
  • Lafontaine, Luc, 48, (already in prison)
  • Léveillé, Guy, 78, St. Hyacinthe
  • Milhomme, Fenel, 29, Montreal
  • Paolucci, Marcello, 34, Terrebonne
  • Paparelli, Massimo, 26, Montreal North
  • Poux, Michael Andrew, 33, Mascouche
  • Silvano, Pasquale, 52, Laval
  • Sucapane, Alessandro, 49, Lorraine
  • Testani, Angelo, 36, Montreal
  • Tremblay Cazes, Frederic, 30, Montreal