RARA-AVIS: Montreal Mobster

From: Kerry ( gsp.schoo@skylinc.net)
Date: 14 Feb 2002

Last month guest host Jose Latour mentioned criminal links between Cuba and the Montreal underworld.

"Allegedly, Joe (Bananas) Bonnano argued that when he controlled Montreal during and after Prohibition (fact?), he shared it with all the other families, so why wouldn't Lansky and Costello reciprocate (in Havana)?"

Those still interested might want to look up an article in today's Globe and Mail announcing the death of Lucean Rivard ("Montreal mobster nearly sank Liberals" by Tu Thanh Ha, http://www.theglobeandmail.com).

Rivard is famous for escaping "jail by persuading his guards to let him water the prison ice rink - even though the temperature was above freezing." He was being held while US officials sought his extradition for his part in smuggling heroin into Texas. He later served 9 years in a Texas prison for the crime. In the 50's Rivard operated casinos in Havana while simultaneously running guns for Castro's rebels. Rivard was a player in Montreal's drug trade, associating with Mafia bosses such as Giuseppe Cotroni. Later he was suspected of helping to set up the infamous "French Connection" bringing heroin from labs in France into North America.

I must have loaned my copy of Adrian Humphreys' "the enforcer, Johnny Pops Papalia: A Life and Death in the Mafia", but if memory serves, the Hamilton gangster was also active in Montreal mob wars during the late 50's, early 60's working for Carmine Galante, described as Bonano's man in Montreal. Papalia's father had been active in Southern Ontario during prohibition and is asuspect in the unsolved disappearance of Rocco Perri, Canada's King of the Bootleggers. With backing from Galante and Buffalo's Magadino family, Johnny Pops later took over the rackets in Ontario, peaking with the vicious beating of Toronto gambler Maxie Bluestein in the lobby of a crowded, central Toronto nightclub. The place was full, but nobody saw anything. Papalia went on to serve time in a New York prison for his part in the French Connection.

An era passes. Papalia, rumoured to be suffering from Alzheimer's disease, was shot at close range in the parking lot outside his Hamilton office just a few years ago, the local Musitano brothers currently serving time for ordering the hit. Now Rivard dies of old age. Recently, Toronto mayor Mel Lastman welcomed the Hells Angels into his city. They were coming anyway.


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