The killing of a woman in broad daylight in her car this week is believed by police to be linked to organized crime, Montreal’s police chief told reporters on Wednesday, while he was attending a meet-and-greet the department hosted for members of the public.
“I can’t share much with you but we know it’s connected to organized crime,” said Fady Dagher.
Dagher did share one significant concern: that if, as suspected, the shooting death is linked to organized crime, it would be the first time in Montreal history that a woman was targeted.
“It is concerning. I’m going to be honest with you, but as chief, I was like, oh, wait a minute, did we cross a line? Are we going somewhere else now? This is our concern now. We are looking into it to find out what happened to that person at that moment,” Dagher said.
On Tuesday, a 39-year-old woman was struck by several gunshots while driving her car in a parking lot Tuesday afternoon in the city’s Côte-des-Neiges–Notre-Dame-de-Grâce borough.
The victim is Claudia Iacono, the owner of the Salon Deauville Coiffure Spa, where the deadly shooting occurred, sources told Noovo Info.
Read more: Daughter-in-law of Montreal mobster shot dead outside salon in broad daylight
A Montreal journalist who has been covering police investigations and organized crime for many years also said when speaking about the Mafia, that targeting a woman would be new territory for them.
Daniel Renaud of La Presse said there are “unwritten rules that you don’t touch women or children if they’re not implicated in Mafia activity.”
He said he has spoken to many people, including people “in the mob world,” who told him what was done “is unpardonable.”
In an interview with CTV News, Renaud laid out the likely investigative route that Montreal police would follow to determine why Iacono was killed, which he presumed will include three hypotheses.
“First of all, they will see if Madame Iacono was killed on the order of someone close to her, because it’s normal in a murder investigation that the police first suspect people around the victim,” Renaud said.
Secondly, police will examine if she was targeted because of something she may have been involved in herself to see if it was a more personal settling of accounts, he said.
“Third, they will see if she was killed because of the link between her husband and the Montreal Mafia,” said Renaud.
Iacono’s husband, Antonio Gallo, is the son of Moreno Gallo, a man who had ties to organized crime and was assassinated in an Acapulco restaurant on Nov. 10, 2013.
Another expert said, however, it’s not that unusual in Mafia circles for there to be retribution against any member of a family.
“I think there is a misconception about the idea that the Mafia is not killing women or children,” Antonio Nicaso, an organized crime author and Queen’s University professor, said Wednesday from Italy.
“The history of the Mafia is full of women and children who’ve been killed, so I think when they have an obstacle, when they have to send a message, they don’t pay attention to gender, they have to deliver a message and that is important for them, nothing else.”
‘VERY TENSE’ BETWEEN RIVAL CLANS
Either way, the atmosphere in Montreal is “very tense” right now as evidenced by the frequency of recent fires in restaurants and cafes, said Renaud, and especially by the attempted murder two months ago of Leonardo Rizzuto, the son of the late reputed Mafia boss Vito Rizzuto.
“This is very important; this is a clear message against the Sicilian clan of the Mafia,” said Renaud, adding the clash could escalate.
“Is it possible that it’s the beginning of a conflict?”
“It’s too early to say, there may be other surprises,” he said. “We will only know if and when something else happens.”
And it may take a while. In Montreal, the Mafia sometimes settles scores many years after the insult.
It’s also possible the two sides, the Sicilian group and what Renaud described as a rival alliance or consortium formed of bikers, some Mafia members, some gang members and other groups from organized crime, could sit down and settle it without violence.
Both would be motivated by the same factors, namely that more violence is bad for organized crime because it draws the interest of police.
But Renaud is dubious that the differences can be swept under the rug. “I think at this time, post the Leonardo Rizzuto attempt, it will be very difficult for all involved to sit down and make peace,” he said.
With files from CTV’s Tania Krywiak, Matthew Gilmour and The Canadian Press