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Friday, September 08, 2006

Famous Mafiosi - Alfonso Caruana

Alfonso Caruana (Castelvetrano, January 1, 1946) is a member of the Sicilian Mafia and was the head of the Cuntrera-Caruana family branch in Canada. He acquired Canadian nationality in 1978.

He was born in Castelvetrano in the province of Trapani on Sicily. His grandfather and father were already part of Cosa Nostra. The family originated from Siculiana in the province of Agrigento, and is closely related to the Cuntrera-family through several mariages. Alfonso Caruana married his niece Giuseppina Caruana and has a son and two daughters.

When the Caruanas and Cuntreras moved to Montreal in the mid-1960s they became affiliated with Nick Rizzuto and his son, Vito Rizzuto. They began to work together in drug trafficking activities.

In 1968 Alfonso Caruana arrived in Canada with 100 dollars in his pocket pretending to be an electrician. Ten years later he was stopped at the international airport of Zürich in Switzerland with 600,000 dollars in a suitcase. He was released after paying a fee.

In the 1970s Caruana, together with is brothers Gerlando Caruana and Pasquale Caruana had to leave Montreal for Caracas in Venezuela because of a conflict with the Cotroni crime family. They returned in 1978 after the boss of the Cotroni-family, Paolo Violi, was killed.

At the beginning of the 1980s Alfonso established himself near Lugano in a luxurious villa, supervising the laundering of the proceeds of heroin-trafficking. The funds were deposited in Canadian banks and channelled through Swiss bank accounts. Two years later he moved to the stockbrokers belt near London. From his £450,000 mansion, he supervised a heroin pipeline from Thailand, through England, to Canada. His partner in the UK was Francesco Di Carlo. Caruana went to Thailand to set up the route. When the pipeline was dismantled in England in 1985, he managed to escape arrest, moving back to a Montreal suburb where he opened a pizzeria. Alfonso prepared the pizzas while his wife tended the pay-desk.

Meanwhile, Caruana organised a network that smuggled eleven metric tons of cocaine to Italy from 1991-94. Caruana brought together the cocaine producers of the Colombian Cartels with the Italian distributors, six 'Ndrangheta families from Calabria. At the time the Cuntrera-Caruana family was labeled as "the fly-wheel of the drug trade and the indispensable link between suppliers and distributors."

The investigation, code-named Operation Cartagine, started when the police seized 5497 kilo's of cocaine (a European record at the time) in March 1994 in Turin. A year later the Turin Prosecutors Office presented the indictment. The operation neutralized the most important supply-line of narcotics to Europe, investigators claimed.

He was sentenced in absentia on July 30, 1997 by the Palermo court of appeal to 21 years and 10 months for Mafia association, conspiracy to traffic narcotics and aggravated importing, possession and sale of large quantities of narcotics for his involvement in heroin trafficking in the 1980s. At the same time he was prosecuted in Turin for cocaine trafficking in the 1990s.

The Palermo court concluded that the network was "a further indication of the high criminal capability" of Caruana who had "escaped every judicial initiative during the last decades and succeeded in reaching the top of the international drug trade, adjusting his criminal contacts and showing such skill that he is to be considered as one of the most important exponents in this sector." In July, 1998, he was arrested in Woodbridge, Ontario in an international police action called Project Omerta for trafficking cocaine from Colombia to Canada.

At one time he claimed he was a simple car wash attendant. According to police, he controlled one of the largest drug dealing networks in the world. The officer in charge of the investigation, RCMP Chief Superintendent Ben Soave, said "If organized crime was a hockey game, Mr. Caruana would be [Wayne] Gretzky." Caruana pleaded guilty to charges of conspiracy to import and traffic some 1,500 kilograms of cocaine and was sentenced to 18 years by the Ontario Superior Court in February 2000.

In November, 2004 a Canadian court ordered that he be extradited to Italy. The decision is being appealed.

Gangland Today


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