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Mafia Gambling Figure Shot Dead in Montreal

Tiffany Burroughs
Updated: 3 August 2023
2 min to read

On Monday afternoon in Dorval, a suburb of Montreal, a high-profile member of the Mafia was fatally shot in the open, during the daytime.
Francesco Del Balso, Montreal Mafia, Rizzuto crime family
(Image: Journal de Montreal) Following the 2013 passing of Vito Rizzuto, the reputed head of the Rizzuto crime family, Francesco Del Balso is reported to have sought to expand his gambling empire in the power vacuum. Del Balso, 53, is said to have had a prominent role in controlling illegal gambling activities for the syndicate. However, according to Mafia experts, his ambitious ventures made him a target for his associates, turning him into a marked man. (Image: Journal de Montreal)

Marked Man

In 2004, The Rizzuto crime family leader Vito Rizzuto was arrested, extradited to the US, and convicted of conspiracy to commit murder and racketeering. He died in 2013 of natural causes. However, this did not stop the push for power within the syndicate, which made Rocco Del Balso a target. According to The Montreal Gazette, two attempts were made on Del Balso’s life in the span of a few months, and the third one succeeded. On Monday, a 53-year-old man was shot on his upper body on St-Régis Blvd. near Deacon Ave in Dorval and pronounced dead at the scene. With these events, the FBI categorized the Rizzuto family as a faction of New York’s Bonanno family and Canadian authorities declared it an independent Mafia organization, marking the beginning of the Mafia War.

Mafia War

The death of Vito Rizzuto, former patriarch of a major force in Canadian organized crime, and the assassination of Steven Del Balso, one of the suspects in an attempted murder plot of Leonardo Rizzuto in March, further divided and weakened the organization that had its tentacles stretching into most of southern Quebec and Ontario. Antonio Nicaso, an organized crime expert and lecturer, confirmed the Montreal wars are not yet over telling the Montreal Gazette, “The power vacuum caused by the death of Vito Rizzuto continues to provoke violence among the various factions of what was once the most powerful Mafia family in Canada.” Del Balso had been arrested back in 2006 as part of ‘Operation Colisée’, the biggest Mafia bust in Canadian history. He served 10 years on charges of gangsterism and conspiracy to import cocaine.

After he was freed in 2016, the parole board voiced concerns about his safety, and he was consequently taken back to prison. Described in legal filings as being “next on the execution list,” he was liberated again in 2018. Unfortunately, he wasn’t to enjoy his freedom for long as he passed away while being investigated for drug trafficking.

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Updated: 3 August 2023
2 min to read

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