Sunday, June 12, 2016

Intercepted Blackberry Messages sunk killers of Salvatore Montagna

The morning that Salvatore Montagna was shot three times and died on a river bank ‎outside Montreal, Raynald Desjardins was having breakfast elsewhere in town with his daughter and chatting about her wedding photo album. Shortly after the killing, Desjardins sent a Blackberry message to his associate, Vittorio Mirarchi: “Done.”

“Perfect,” came the reply. Police who were wiretapping Desjardin’s mobile phone immediately knew who was behind the 2011 murder.

Vittorio Mirarchi

Vito Rizzuto
The mobsters thought their Blackberry messages were secure, even as the RCMP recorded their words as they plotted against their enemies. On Friday, a judge lifted a publication ban on the court proceedings, revealing for the first time details of a case that pitted old-style mob violence and state-of-the-art surveillance technology. It's the story of the men who plotted to claim mob power while the Godfather was in prison. Desjardins met Vito Rizzuto in 1979, around the time that the Sicilian-born Rizzuto took over the Montreal Mafia from the Calabrians. For years, police tried to nab the boss and his right hand man. In 1993, Desjardins was arrested for conspiring to import 700 kilos of cocaine from Venezuela. He got a 15-year sentence. Rizzuto was heard on wiretaps but was not charged.

Salvatore 'the ironworker' Montagna
By the time Desjardins was released in 2004, his mentor was behind bars, awaiting extradition to the United States for his role in a triple murder in Brooklyn. Vito Rizzuto’s arrest started a decade of turmoil in Montreal’s underworld, as his organization was weakened by a series of murders and police crackdowns.

A new player appeared in Montreal to claim the throne: acting Bonanno underboss Salvatore 'the ironworker' Montagna. U.S. officials deported him in April, 2009, putting him on a flight to Montreal. Desjardins and Montagna began to vie for power in the vacuum left by Rizzuto. Both sides used Blackberry PIN-to-PIN encrypted messages, believing them to be secure. Messages sent by the Desjardins faction showed they were increasingly annoyed that Montagna’s men were trying to control their bookmaking, loan sharking and protection rackets. Montagna was referred to as “Mickey Mouse” or “Tin Man.”

Jonathan Mignacca
The morning of Sept. 16, 2011, Desjardins and his bodyguard, Jonathan Mignacca were parked near a waterfront bike path in Laval, north of Montreal. A man fired at them with an AK-47 assault rifle. Mr. Mignacca shot back with a .40 Glock pistol. More than 20 shots were exchanged, hitting both cars, before the gunman fled on a Sea-Doo water scooter.

A few weeks later Desjardins and Mirarchi pondered whether Montagna was getting reinforcements. “Mickey says he’s bringing in guys from NY down to help him,” Mirarchi wrote. On Nov. 15 Mirarchi wrote: “Yup, time to close the book. The story is getting too long.” Desjardins replied: “Let’s do what we talked about before.”

Montagna had been shot three times and died from abdominal trauma caused by a bullet that entered his back.
On Nov. 24 Montagna parked downtown, then took the subway to Montreal’s east-end, where he was picked up by Jack Simpson, a Desjardins man. “Our guy is on the move, looking good,” Mirarchi messaged Desjardins. Desjardins messaged Mirarchi, saying: “Done.” However, Montagna had managed to run outside. People called 9-1-1 after seeing a man jump into the Assomption River, then collapse on the opposite bank. “Come quick,” Simpson messaged. “W? Got problem?” Desjardins replied, before asking Mirarchi to go to the scene. Mirarchi reported that the police had already arrived: “Lots of blues around there.”
Jack Simpson
The next night, the RCMP put an officer outside Desjardins’ house while a team in east-end Montreal tailed a Jeep Cherokee belonging to one of his men, Felice Racaniello. In both cases, the officers used a controversial machine variously known as mobile device identifier (MDI), an IMSI catcher or a Stingray.

The RCMP eventually intercepted over 860,000 PIN-to-PIN messages from 193 Blackberry phones. Desjardins and his men were arrested on Dec. 20, 2011. He was wearing a bulletproof vest when police showed up at his office. In July 2015 Desjardins pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit murder. On March 30 2016 the other defendants also pleaded guilty.

Maurice (Mom) Boucher in 2000
Last fall, Maurice (Mom) Boucher, the former Quebec Hells Angels kingpin now serving a life sentence, was charged with plotting the murder of another inmate.

The intended victim, according to police: Mr. Raynald Desjardins.

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