The Cotroni crime family, originally Cotrone (Italian: [koˈtroːne]) is an Italian-Canadian organized crime syndicate based in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. The FBI considered the organization a large branch of the Bonanno crime family.
A Calabrian immigrant from Mammola, Vincenzo Cotroni established the organization in the 1940s. Their territory once covered most of southern Quebec and Ontario. An internal war broke out between the Calabrian and Sicilian factions of the family in the late 1970s, which resulted in the death of acting captain Paolo Violi and his brothers. This allowed the Sicilian Rizzuto crime family to overtake the Cotronis as the preeminent crime family in Montreal. Vincenzo died of cancer in 1984, followed by his brother Frank in 2004.
In the 1950s the family formed a strong connection to the New York Bonanno crime family, as the crime family began controlling the majority of Montreal's drug trade. In 1953, Carmine "Lilo" Galante, an influential member of the New York-based Bonanno crime family, arrived in Montreal and worked with Cotroni. Galante planned to make Montreal a pivotal location in the importation of heroin from overseas for distribution in New York City and across the United States in the French Connection. Police also estimated that Galante was collecting gambling profits in Montreal worth about $50 million per year. In April 1956, due to Galante's strong-arm extortion tactics, the Canadian Government deported him back to the United States.
In the late 1960s, the Cotronis had violent feuds with French-Canadian mobster Richard Blass, with Cotroni associate Joe Di Maulo doing much of the enforcing. On May 7, 1968, Blass and Robert Allard attempted an ambush of Frank outside his home; two of his bodyguards were killed but Frank escaped.
In the 1960s and 70s, Cotroni used associate William "Obie" Obront to supervise a bookmaking network in the Ottawa-Hull area that handled around $50,000 in bets per day, with 25 percent going to Paolo Violi. Obie also served as Cotroni chief banker and financial adviser, responsible for laundering money. For Montreal's Expo 67, Obie also helped the Cotronis land the meat and vending machine supply contract — most of which was tainted meat. In 1973, Obie was charged with tax fraud, sentenced to 20 months in jail, and ordered to pay $683,046 in back taxes.
In the early 1970s, Cotroni transferred the day-to-day activities of the family to his Calabrian compatriot Violi, a capodecina together with Nicolas Di Iorio, Frank Cotroni and Luigi Greco. Cotroni's role became more that of an adviser to the younger Calabrian. Greco led the Sicilian faction of the family until his death in 1972.
Soon after, in 1973, a violent internal power struggle broke out between Sicilian and Calabrian factions in the family, notably aspiring Sicilian mob boss Nicolo Rizzuto. During the violent Mafia war in Montreal, Violi and his brothers were murdered along with others through the mid 1970s to the early 1980s, when the war ceased. By the mid 1980s, the Rizzuto crime family emerged as Montreal's pre-eminent crime family after the turf war.
The Calabrian faction continued to operate with Frank Cotroni, who had been imprisoned from 1975 to 1979, as acting boss for his ill brother after the early 1980s. When Vic Cotroni died of cancer in 1984, Frank was left as boss. Frank Cotroni developed connections with French-Canadian Réal Simard, who became his driver and hitman. In 1986, Simard turned informant after his arrest, confessing to five murders and involvement with Cotroni. Cotroni was sentenced to eight years in prison for manslaughter in 1987. Frank Cotroni died, of cancer, in August 2004, leaving the Rizzuto Sicilian faction as the most powerful crime family in Canada.
On November 4, 2012, Joe Di Maulo, a longtime ally of the Cotroni family, was murdered outside his Montreal home. Police believe his murder is part of an ongoing power struggle between the Sicilians and their rivals.