MONTREAL — Salvatore Montagna, a 40-year-old reputed Mafioso, was found dead Thursday on a small island near Repentigny, Que.
It is believed Montagna was shot shortly after 10 a.m. Thursday morning and found on the shore of Ile Vaudry, a small island just south of the municipality of Charlemagne and next to Repentigny. The Repentigny police quickly turned over the case to the Surete du Quebec.
A dual citizen of Canada, where he was born, and Italy, where he was raised in Sicily, he was deported from the U.S. in 2009 and returned to Montreal.
Police sources have speculated for months that Montagna, who was married and the father of three daughters, likely came back to Montreal with the goal of filling a void in the city’s Mafia, created by a series of arrests which were followed by kidnappings and murders.
It appeared that Montagna was shot in Charlemagne and then crossed the narrow frigid river to Ile Vaudry in a desperate attempt to elude the shooter. Surete du Quebec Sgt. Benoit Richard said Thursday it was too early to say if that is indeed what happened.
Richard said the victim is believed to be a 40-year-old man but could not confirm the identity. They said the victim’s family had yet to be informed of the death and that a coroner had not officially identified the body.
After keeping a relatively low profile for a while — some local organized crime investigators had no idea who Montagna was in 2009 — he appeared to become more active in 2011.
A police source told the Montreal Gazette Thursday that Montagna was suspected of shaking down several Montreal-area construction companies for five per cent of their profits, something he allegedly did in New York during a short stint as the head of the Bonanno crime family before his deportation to Canada. He was known among his fellow associates in the Bonanno family as “Sal the Ironworker” because of his work in the field. He owned a company based in Brooklyn, New York called Matrix Steel Inc.
His return to Montreal made headlines in 2009 and left police wondering how he would react to what transpired within the Rizzuto Clan following 2006′s Project Colisee, an investigation into the leadership of the Mafia in Montreal and its associates.
Nicolo (Zio Cola) Rizzuto, the octogenarian leader of the organization, was convicted but was sentenced to time served in 2008. He was killed on Nov. 10, 2010, while his son Vito was serving a 10-year sentence he received in the U.S. The sentence ends in less than a year. Another leader in the organization, Paolo Renda, was kidnapped after serving a short prison term for his conviction.
In recent months, police have theorized that Montagna — along with Raynald Desjardins and Joseph (Jos) Di Maulo, a man reputed to have ties to the Mafia that date back decades — tried to create a consensus over who should lead the Mafia in Montreal.
“Looks like it didn’t work,” said one police investigator on Thursday.