Morbid Curiosity


Zangari, Giovanni and Saverio: Project Oaf – These two brothers from London, Ontario, thought they were setting up their own cell, or ’Ndrina, of the ’Ndrangheta of the Calabrian underworld in 1985, and had grand plans of then approaching the crimini (ruling body) in Toronto for recognition.

In fact, they were giving RCMP undercover officer Const. John Persichetti an upclose view of their operations in what police indelicately called Project Oaf. The undercover officer became the first police officer in Canada to take the secret Calabrian Mafia oath when the brothers performed an induction ceremony with him in a tiny plaza, in the back of a greasy spoon in south London.

See also: ’Ndrangheta .

Zig Zag Crew: “Surfers on Steroids” – On the night of February 12, 2002, a Winnipeg police officer was in her home in the North Kildonan district when someone threw a chunk of concrete through her front window. She switched on the lights, and two men ran from her lawn, leaving behind several gas-filled Molotov cocktails. On another occasion, her van was torched.

Ralph “Junior” Moir, Zig Zag Crew, Stony Mountain Penitentary, Manitoba (Lucas Oleniuk , Toronto Star)

Police eventually arrested members of the Zig Zag Crew for the attacks. The gang was formed in 1997 in Manitoba’s Stony Mountain Penitentiary, taking their name from Zig Zag cigarette rolling papers. Soon many members had tattoos on the product’s logo, a sailor, and were working as a junior puppet club of the Hells Angels.

Members tended to be from Winnipeg’s middle-class south end, rather than inner-city poor, and looked more like “surfers on steroids” than hard-core bikers, according to a police officer. One Zig Zag member, Ralph “Junior” Moir, twenty-four, was Canadian amateur middleweight boxing champion before being sent to Stony Mountain Penitentiary outside Winnipeg to serve a four-year term for a shooting spree in the fall of 2000, which included shooting a fifteen-year-old in the head. (The youth made a full recovery.)

The gang was confined to Manitoba, and mostly Winnipeg. In 2002, it had between twelve and twenty-two members. In early 2003, Winnipeg police laid a total of sixty-eight charges against Zig Zag members in connection with a series of arsons, drive-by shootings, and assault that started in late 2000, and included the attempted firebombing of the police officer’s home.

See also: Los Brovos, Redliners, Spartans, Wolodumyr “Walter” “Nurget” Stadnick .

Zito, Rocco: Connected from Birth – His father, Domenico, was a senior member of the Vincenzo Crupi group, which, according to Italian court documents, was a criminal group in southern Italy in 1930, while his uncle was leader of a criminal gang in Calabria.

Rocco Zito, who was born in 1928 in Fiumara in Reggio Calabria, Italy, was a ’Ndrangheta cell leader on La Camera di Controllo, also known as the crimini (ruling body).

When up-and-coming mobster Paolo Violi was arrested in 1960, running liquor into Toronto, police found Zito’s phone number on him. At that time, Zito was a waiter and part-time strong-arm associate of Alberto Agueci.

When Filippo Vendemini of Toronto was murdered, the first call his family made was to Vendemini’s old associate Rocco Zito. Zito’s other associates in the 1960s in Toronto included Tommaso Buscetta, who later became one of the biggest turncoats in Mafia history.

Zito’s brother Giuseppe was murdered in 1975 in a Mafia power struggle in Calabria. His father, Domenico, had hoped to move permanently to Canada, but was refused landed-immigrant status because he had been convicted years earlier of being a member of ’Ndrangheta in Fiumara, Calabria. He was deported and died in 1977.

Rocco Zito was suspected of supplying documents to Sicilian mobsters fleeing crackdowns in the 1980s. In October 1980, his associate Italo Luci was caught with hundreds of passports in his possession.

Zito had a temper as well as nasty connections. He was sentenced on October 8, 1986, to four and a half years in prison after pleading guilty to manslaughter for killing Rosario Sciarrino, sixty. Sciarrino, a former photographer who was then working as a food salesman, borrowed money from Zito to open a photography studio, but couldn’t keep up the payments. Zito appeared insulted and clubbed him to death with a liquor bottle.

See also: Alberto Agueci, Tommaso Buscetta, ’Ndrangheta, Paolo Violi, Michele “Mike” Racco .

Zizzo, Benedetto: French Connected – His brother, Salvatore, was considered the undisputed Mafia leader of Salemi, Sicily, and Benedetto, born in 1914 and four years younger, was a major underworld figure on the North American side of the ocean.

Benedetto was indicted in 1961 in what became known as the French Connection heroin-trafficking case with major New York City Bonnano family members, including Carmine Galante, for importing seventy-six kilograms of heroin to New York. He was sent to prison again in 1973 after being found guilty in what was then Ontario’s biggest drug case. That case involved the importation and distribution of $32-million worth of heroin.

Zizzo, who ran a marble-importing business in Concord, just north of Toronto, was released from prison on full parole in June 1983.

See also: French Connection, Carmine Galante, John “Johnny Pops” Papalia .

Benedetto Zizzo

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