TORONTO – Montreal’s so-called “Teflon Don” is back in Canada. But Vito Rizzuto, 66, avoided the limelight after the plane carrying him landed in Toronto shortly before 11 p.m. Friday night.
Peel Regional Police confirmed that Rizzuto was processed at customs just like any other passenger but was then whisked away out an exit in a secure area of the airport.
“As far as the gentleman arriving today, we know that there is a history of violence that may surround this individual,” said Peel Regional Police Const. George Tudos.
“That is the reason why we made sure that this passenger was safe arriving into Canada and departed the airport safely as well.”
Police said Rizzuto was still in Toronto Friday night, but added that he was not in custody and under police protection.
Rizzuto was greeted upon arrival in Canada by the Peel Regional Police airport tactical unit. Tudos said that was to ensure his safety but added that there had been no threat issued that would lead them to believe he was in danger.
“There doesn’t have to be a specific threat in order for us to have our tactical team deployed at the airport,” Tudos said.
But the beefed up police presence alarmed some people getting off the plane.
A man who was on the flight said that a man was escorted onto the plane before other passengers were allowed to board in Denver.
He looked like just a normal guy. Coming off there were just a whole bunch of guys, a whole bunch of cops, waiting for him with guns and full body armour. It was pretty scary," said the man, who did not give his name.
Rizzuto was released from a Colorado prison Friday morning, and was on United Airlines flight 3675 from Denver which landed at Pearson International Airport.
A car with tinted windows drove the embattled organized crime leader away from the Florence Federal Correctional Complex at 7:30 a.m., local time. He was remanded into the custody of U.S. immigration officials.
Rizzuto is considered an embattled leader because during the six years he was jailed in the U.S some of his closest allies, including his son and his father, were assassinated.
QMI Agency has learned that the RCMP and Canadian embassy officials are assisting American authorities in transporting Rizzuto back to Canada.
The Montrealer was imprisoned in the States for his part in the 1981 murders of three dissenting Bonanno Mob captains in Brooklyn in 1981.
Rizzuto pleaded guilty to conspiracy in 2007 and was sentenced to ten years in prison.
He admitted to being present during the killings of Dominick "Big Trin" Trinchera, Philip "Philly Lucky" Giaccone and Alphonse "Sonny Red" Indelicato. Rizzuto claimed his only role in the murders was to shout "It's a hold-up!"
While some think he'll return to his crumbling Mafia empire in Montreal, others have speculated he will re-establish his base in Toronto, where several relatives live.
Experts believe the balance of Mafia power has since shifted from Montreal to Ontario. However, Montreal's mafia leadership and its true influence on Canada are unclear.
Also on Friday, Rizzuto's father-in-law, Leonardo Cammalleri, was laid to rest at a church in the Montreal borough of St. Leonard, home to part of the city's large Italian community. The 92-year-old murder suspect died late last month of natural causes.
Cammalleri had been the subject of an arrest warrant issued by Italian authorities for a 1955 murder and had been living in hiding in Montreal since police discovered his whereabouts in the early 2000s. The Italian government never asked for his extradition.