Deadly Silence: Canadian Mafia Murders


219 pages
Contains Photos, Illustrations, Bibliography, Index
ISBN 0-7715-9017-2
DDC 364.1'523'0971





Christopher English is a history professor at Memorial University of


The format of this study, 13 case studies of how the Canadian Mafia
settles its accounts with rivals or with those within the family who
transgress the code of expected and acceptable behavior, would seem to
place the book in the essentially narrative and titillating genre of
popular crime. But Edwards and Nicaso are engaged in serious
investigative journalism. Well researched, using both Canadian and
Italian sources and including police reports from both jurisdictions,
this study offers an international context for a series of brutal
murders that took place over the last 30 years. Among the victims were
Paolo Violi, acquitted of murder in 1955 and gunned down as head of the
Cotroni crime family of Montreal in 1974, and Alberto Ageuci, a heroin
trafficker and link in the French Connection, who jumped bail in Toronto
in 1961 and surfaced as a charred corpse in a field south of the United
States border.

And so it goes, a litany of powerful and overbearing men (only one
woman figures, and quite exceptionally, in this rogues’ gallery)
brought low not by the criminal-justice system but by rivals and
erstwhile allies. The actors share a peculiar and personal concept of
honor and code of silence (omertа), which is enforced by violence and
intimidation. Excluded is any sense of loyalty to the state or to the
rule of law. Racketeering, drugs, gambling, and extortion are their
trade, and money laundering, through the purchase of legitimate
businesses, is their path to respectability.

From these case studies alone, it is apparent that the Italian Mafia in
any one of its four or five guises has its Canadian outposts and
American (Cosa Nostra) allies, which together constitute a large and
powerful international criminal association. Edwards and Nicaso argue
that it can be countered and subdued only by a coordinated international
offensive. Clearly, the authors see Canada as a weak link in the
international offensive; they document the ease with which Mafia members
find haven here whenever anti-crime enforcement in Italy or the United
States heats up.


Edwards, Peter., “Deadly Silence: Canadian Mafia Murders,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed November 28, 2023,