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The daylight a Montreal mafia figure has worsened fears of an organized gang war

Montreal has long been home to Canada’s most notorious biker gangs and mobsters. Its recent history is smeared with gangland slayings. But few have been as audacious — and foreboding —as the assassination Monday of Nicolo Rizzuto Jr., the eldest son of the city’s reputed godfather.

Rizzuto, 42, was gunned down in broad daylight in the middle of a west end street by an assassin who pumped several bullets into his chest.

He was the son of Vito Rizzuto, 63, known as the Teflon Don until convicted for his role in the killing of three rebel members of the Bonanno crime family in Brooklyn in 1981. He was arrested in 2004 and is now serving a 10-year sentence in Colorado.

Nicolo Rizzuto wasn’t considered a top player in his father’s clan. His only police record was for minor traffic violations. But the “whacking” of a godfather’s son has police and organized crime experts convinced there is more violence to come.

“This is like a tsunami for the underworld,” organized crime expert Antonio Nicaso told the Toronto Star. “You should expect revenge.”

Crime analysts say the hit means one of two things: a war within the Mafia, or street gangs trying to take advantage of a weakened Rizzuto family to muscle in on their turf. Since Vito Rizzuto’s arrest, several of his top associates have been arrested or killed.

Concerns of an organized gang war have been looming all year. The firebombing of several Italian bars and cafes in Montreal in the last three months has been seen by police as a prelude of things to come.

Since Vito Rizzuto’s arrest, the identity of the man running Montreal’s Mafia isn’t clear. The names most often heard are Salvatore Montagna and d'Agostino Cuntrera. Montagna, according to some experts, is the interim head of New York’s Bonanno family. Cuntrera was found guilty in 1978 of involvement in the death of Paolo Violi, a top Montreal mobster.