Suspect in killing of Hamilton mobster and Vaughan, Ont. woman found dead in Mexico

اخبارالعرب 24-كندا:الأربعاء 16 سبتمبر 2020 10:29 صباحاً Hamilton police say one of the three suspects involved in the killings of Hamilton mobster Angelo Musitano and Mila Barberi, from Vaughan, Ont., was found dead in Mexico this summer.

Michael Graham Cudmore was found in a ditched car on the side of a road in rural Mexico at the end of June according to officers.

"Members of the multi-jurisdictional task force, which was formed to solve the two murders, have received limited information from the Canadian Embassy or Mexican authorities surrounding the circumstances of Cudmore's death," reads a release from Hamilton police.

Musitano was shot and killed in the driveway of his Waterdown home in May 2017 while his brother Pat was shot to death earlier this year in a Burlington plaza.

Mila Barberi was shot dead in March 2017 while she sat in an SUV parked outside a business in an industrial area of Vaughan, Ont., north of Toronto. She was picking up her boyfriend, Saverio Serrano, 40 at the time, who police say had connections to organized crime and may have been the intended target.

Investigators announced last year that a number of characteristics linked the shootings of Barberi and Musitano, two months later.

Police say Michael Cudmore was a suspect in two murders but was found dead this summer in Mexico. He fled to the country in the same month Musitano was killed. (Hamilton police)

Police say they have spoken with Cudmore's family to assist them in repatriating his body and to learn more about his death. His family said they didn't hear from Cudmore since he fled to Mexico in May 2017.

Police also notified the Barberi family and a spokesperson for the Musitano family about Cudmore's death.

Investigators believe he headed to Mexico with Daniele Carlo Ranieri, a person of interest in the deaths.

Ranieri was found dead in a Mexico ditch in March 2018 and was previously a target in Project Forza, an investigation by York Regional Police, the Ontario Provincial Police and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police to take out an alleged organized crime group in the Greater Toronto Area.

Interpol was watching for both men in case they left Mexico.

One suspect still at large

Daniel Tomassetti is still wanted for the two murders. (Hamilton Police)

Cudmore was one of three suspects police say was involved in the killings of Barberi and Musitano.

In September 2018, Jabirl Abdalla was arrested for the shootings. This month, Abdalla was committed to trial after a preliminary hearing, but his trial date hasn't been set yet.

Upon his initial arrest, a joint investigation involving the RCMP, York and Hamilton police called Project SCOPA identified Cudmore and Daniel Tomassetti as men "directly involved in the murders," along with the attempted murder of Serrano.

Tomassetti is still wanted for both murders and his arrest warrant remains on file with Interpol.

He fled to Mexico in January 2018 and has not returned to Canada. Police say his family doesn't know where he is but know "he is scared."

Musitano murder sparked more mob violence

After Angelo's death in 2018, more mob violence and targeted killings followed.

Al Iavarone, 50, was shot at his home in Ancaster in September 2018. Police say Iavarone's wife and two adult children were at home at the time of the incident. 

Cece Luppino, the son of mobster Rocco Luppino, was gunned down at a Hamilton home owned by his father in January 2019.

Pat Musitano was wounded in a 2019 shooting and had his home sprayed with bullets in 2017. Gunshots killed him on July 10 in broad daylight in a small Burlington, Ont., plaza.

Guisseppe "Pino" Avignone, Pat's relative, was at the scene during the shooting. Exactly one week later, his garage had the word "rat" painted onto it while two cars sitting in the driveway were set on fire.

Guisseppe "Pino" Avignone's home was the target of what experts say is a bold message from the Mafia, after his cars were torched and the word "rat" was painted on his garage. It may also be a sign of more impending mob crime. (David Ritchie)

The Musitano family was one of three major crime families in the Hamilton area, competing with the Papalias and Luppino-Violi families for power.

The story of the Musitanos stretches back to the 1970s, when the family was linked to convictions for bombings and extortion, as well as the hit on mobster Domenic Racco in the 1980s.

Pat and his brother Angelo were charged with first-degree murder in 1997 for the contract killing of local mob boss Johnny "Pops" Papalia and one of his lieutenants, Carmen Barillaro.

The Musitanos reached a deal and pleaded to conspiracy to commit murder in the death of Barillaro. In turn, the charges against them in connection with Papalia's death were dropped.

Both men were sentenced to 10 years in prison and were released in 2007.

Angelo Musitano, right, and his brother Pat are shown leaving court in 1998. Pat was killed in a shooting on Friday in Burlington, Ont., while Angelo was killed in a targeted shooting outside his home in 2017. (Hamilton Spectator)

Mob experts previously told CBC the brothers may have painted a target on their backs for Papalia's death.

They were protected by the Rizzuto mob family in Montreal, but after the death of their leader, Vito Rizzuto, the Musitanos became vulnerable.

Experts of the underworld have also said the violence may not stop anytime soon. If rivals think there are more of the Musitano crime family around, they may try to kill them. There may also be people looking to avenge victims from past mob violence in Hamilton, like Luppino and Iavarone.

Stronger crime families from outside the region may also wrestle for territory.

With Hamilton being in arm's reach of Toronto, Niagara and Buffalo, experts say mafia in the Greater Toronto Area have a potential opening to claim the city's drug routes, gambling operations and expand south of the border.

That move would position them to be near the top of Canada's underworld and give them leverage against the Rizzutos.

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