Montréal, June 12, 2014 – Two major Italian-based organized crime cells were dismantled today by members of the Combined Forces Special Enforcement Unit (CFSEU). Thirty-three individuals were arrested in various areas of Québec, including Montréal, Laval and Québec City. Two individuals are wanted at this time. These very dangerous and well-structured networks aimed at controlling drug trafficking as well as the right to trade in specific territories in Montréal. The investigation, called Project CLEMENZA, was initiated in 2010.
Through the interception of electronic communications on BlackBerry devices (Pin to Pin messaging), the investigators were able to identify the suspects in relation to a series of violent crimes committed on the Montréal territory between 2010 and 2012: arson, weapon cache, forcible confinement, drug trafficking, gangsterism and conspiracy. Over one million private messages were intercepted and analysed as evidence using the PIN to PIN interception technique. This was the first time that this technique was used on such a large scale in a major investigation in North America.
The investigators targeted the main leaders as well as all the key players of the organizations. One of the cells investigated was associated to the Bastone brothers and the other was associated to the now deceased Giuseppe De Vito. The individuals face various charges including conspiracy, gangsterism, drug importation, trafficking and possession, kidnapping and forcible confinement, possession of weapons and explosives, arson, extortion, assault. A total of 87 counts were filed. The accused are:
The accused should appear in court in Montréal this afternoon.
Flores, Jaime, 48, Unknown address (high resolution)
As part of today’s operation, the investigators of the Integrated Proceeds of Crime Unit (IPOC) conducted ten searches and seized two residences and two bank accounts. The total estimated value of the seizure is $1M. Located in Laval and St-Côme, the properties belonged to Roberto Bastone.
Between 2007 and 2011, Montréal was scene of waves of violence related to the instability in traditional Italian organized crime at the time. The objective of Project CLEMENZA was to target and eliminate the active Italian-based cells that took over in the wake of Project Colisée.
The investigation was carried out in partnership with the Sûreté du Québec, the Service de police de la Ville de Montréal, the Service de police de la Ville de Laval, Canada Border Services Agency, Canada Revenue Agency and the Financial Transactions and Reports Analysis Centre of Canada (FINTRAC).
Royal Canadian Mounted Police