|Chairman France Charbonneau. (QMI Agency)
MONTREAL - Canadian mobsters have changed with the times, posing as bakers, greenhouse operators, even limo drivers, an Ontario detective said Thursday.
Det. Mike Amato of the York Regional Police told a public inquiry that Ontario police are less likely to focus resources on mafia groups that have stopped killing each other and started blending into society.
"If I do not have blood in the streets, why should I have investigative resources?" Amato said of the mindset that's prevalent in his province.
The detective outlined the mafia's structure and operations in Ontario, where the balance of power has shifted as Montreal's Rizzuto crime family continues to be depleted by murders, kidnappings and police raids.
The Charbonneau commission is looking into corruption and collusion in Quebec's construction industry. Amato, whose force led an anti-Rizzuto raid in 2001, is one of several out-of-province experts that have been called to testify.
The Quebec legislature heard last year that the mafia has infiltrated construction sites to launder proceeds of crime.
Amato said Thursday that Italian mobsters pretend to be law-abiding citizens and are able to go about their illicit business without attracting the usual attention.
"People think that the mafia are in cafes, smoking," he told the inquiry. "But in reality... they own garden centres, financial institutions, bakeries, limousine services, garbage disposal companies, nightclubs."
The GTA is increasingly a landing spot for senior members of the Calabrian mafia, known as the 'Ndrangheta.
The move has left police with the impression that what happens in Canada is important to the worldwide operation of the Calabrian mob.
A source told QMI Agency this in August that "a lot of major decisions that affect Calabria" are being finalized in the Toronto area.
The source said the seat of Canadian mob power is now centred in Woodbridge, north of Toronto.
Canada is financially important to the 'Ndrangheta. It's seen as a safe financial haven and authorities here haven't struck as often or as hard as in Italy, where billions of euros in property and other assets have recently been seized from criminal organizations.