Alfonso Caruana (born in Castelvetrano, Italy, January 1, 1946) is a member of the Sicilian Mafia and was the head of the Sicilian Cuntrera-Caruana family branch in Canada. He acquired Canadian nationality in 1978.
Early Life Edit
He was born in Castelvetrano in the province of Trapani on Sicily. His grandfather and father were already part of Cosa Nostra. The family originated from Siculiana in the province of Agrigento, and is closely related to the Cuntrera-family through several marriages. Alfonso Caruana married his niece Giuseppina Caruana and has a son and two daughters.
Mafia career Edit
In 1968 Alfonso Caruana arrived in Canada with $100 in his pocket pretending to be an electrician. Ten years later he was stopped at the international airport of Zürich in Switzerland with $600,000 in a suitcase. He was released after paying a fee.
In the 1970s Caruana, together with is brothers Gerlando Caruana and Pasquale Caruana had to leave Montreal for Caracas in Venezuela because of a conflict with the Cotroni crime family. They returned in 1978 after the boss of the Cotroni-family, Paolo Violi, was killed.
At the beginning of the 1980s Alfonso established himself near Lugano in a luxurious villa, supervising the laundering of the proceeds of heroin-trafficking. The funds were deposited in Canadian banks and channeled through Swiss bank accounts. Two years later he moved to the stockbroker belt near London. From his £450,000 mansion, he supervised a heroin pipeline from Thailand, through England, to Canada. His partner in the UK was Francesco Di Carlo. Caruana went to Thailand to set up the route. When the pipeline was dismantled in England in 1985, he managed to escape arrest, moving back to a Montreal suburb where he opened a pizzeria. Alfonso prepared the pizzas while his wife tended the pay-desk.
According to Di Carlo, who became a pentito (state witness) in 1996, Caruana was sentenced to death by the high council of the Mafia after he had fallen out of favour. Di Carlo was ordered to carry out the killing, but refused and in doing so saved Caruana's life.
Cocaine trafficker Edit
Meanwhile, Caruana organised a network that smuggled eleven metric tonnes of cocaine to Italy from 1991-94. Caruana brought together the cocaine producers of the Colombian Cartels with the Italian distributors, six 'Ndrangheta families from Calabria. At the time the Cuntrera-Caruana family was labeled as "the fly-wheel of the drug trade and the indispensable link between suppliers and distributors."
The investigation, code-named Operation Cartagine, started when the police seized 5497 kilos of cocaine (a European record at the time) in March 1994 in Turin. A year later the Turin Prosecutors Office presented the indictment. The operation neutralized the most important supply-line of narcotics to Europe, investigators claimed.
He was sentenced in absentia on July 30, 1997 by the Palermo court of appeal to 21 years and 10 months for Mafia association, conspiracy to traffic narcotics and aggravated importing, possession and sale of large quantities of narcotics for his involvement in heroin trafficking in the 1980s. At the same time he was prosecuted in Turin for cocaine trafficking in the 1990s.
The Palermo court concluded that the network was "a further indication of the high criminal capability" of Caruana who had "escaped every judicial initiative during the last decades and succeeded in reaching the top of the international drug trade, adjusting his criminal contacts and showing such skill that he is to be considered as one of the most important exponents in this sector." In July 1998, he was arrested in Woodbridge, Ontario in an international police action called Project Omerta for trafficking cocaine from Colombia to Canada.
Car wash attendant Edit
At one time he claimed he was a simple car wash attendant. According to police, he controlled one of the largest drug dealing networks in the world. The officer in charge of the investigation, Royal Canadian Mounted Police Chief Superintendent Ben Soave, said "If organized crime was a hockey game, Mr. Caruana would be [Wayne] Gretzky." Caruana pleaded guilty to charges of conspiracy to import and traffic some 1,500 kilograms of cocaine and was sentenced to 18 years by the Ontario Superior Court in February 2000.
In November 2004, a Canadian court ordered that he be sent back to Italy to face jail time. In Italy, Caruana, faces a sentence of almost 22 years, likely to be served in solitary confinement. The sentence stems from a 1996 trial in Palermo and subsequent appeals. In June 2007, the Ontario Court of Appeal ruled Caruana to be sent back to Italy to face jail time. On December 20, 2007, Caruana's efforts to appeal were dismissed by the Supreme Court of Canada. He was extradited to Italy on January 29, 2008.