|Canada/ Montreal|  Frank Cotroni

Birth: 1931 - Montreal

Death: 17 August, 2004 - Montreal

Frank "Le Gros" Cotroni was a flamboyant Montreal mobster and younger brother of Vic and Giuseppe Cotroni. He was heavily involved in drug trafficking.

Richard Blass feud
Frank Cotroni was born in Montreal to Calabrian immigrants. His first conviction occurred in the the early 1960's when he received a sentence for carrying a concealed weapon. By then his brother Vic had become a leading figure of the Italian underworld in Montreal and had forged close ties to the New York based Bonanno family. For a time they were untouchable. During the late 1960's Frank however got into a feud with a young Montreal bank robber named Richard Blass. In 1968 Cotroni was even targeted for an ambush, but got away after a unknowing police officer interrupted the attempt. A couple of months later two Mafia hitmen took revenge and opened fired at Blass in a bar, but he got away unharmed.

After the botched hit tensions between Cotroni en Blass somehow loosened for a while, but Blass was still going strong in Montreal. He and his crew kept on robbing banks and warehouses until he had become one of the most wanted men in Canada. He went on the lam, but not before he had taken revenge on some of his former associates whom he blamed for snitching. In January 1975, he and his accomplice Fernand Beaudet went to the Gargantua bar where they shot and killed both Raymond Laurin and Roger Levesque. Because many of the visitors had witnessed the crime Blass and Beaudet decided to take care of them as well and barricaded the doors before setting the place on fire, killing 13 innocent women and men. The massacre was one of the most vicious crimes in Canadian history. Afterwards, Blass and a couple of cronies immediately went to a hiding place in Val David but someone had tipped them off to the police, who rushed to his chalet and finished him off with 27 bullets.

Drug trafficking
By the time his former foe Richard Blass had been executed by the police Cotroni was already serving time for drug trafficking. He had been arrested in 1974 for his part in transporting Mexican cocaine to America worth up to 3 million dollars. According to police he was leading an operation which was initially set up by the Bonanno family. Cotroni was extradited to the United States where he was sentenced to 15 years in prison, but after only serving a third of his sentence he was already released. In the following years Cotroni maintained a low profile, certainly now his brother Vic had resigned as leader of the Montreal Mafia and his successor Paolo Violi had been murdered during a violent takeover by the Sicilian Rizzuto clan. Although his obvious ties to the former leadership Nicolo Rizzuto did allow Cotroni to continue his drug trafficking business under their wings.

In 1981 Cotroni ordered a hit on Giuseppe Montegano, a minor gangster who had been badmouthing about him and therefore had to go. Montegano was shot four times in the head by accomplice RĂ©al Simard, who after being arrested ended up testifying against his boss. As a result Cotroni was trialed for conspiracy to murder and was sentenced to 8 years. During his prison term he explained to a journalist that his life of crime was over. But old habits won't go away easy. After his release Cotroni re-entered the drug trafficking business and in 1996 he, his son Francesco and about 20 others were nabbed in a massive joint drug venture which he had started alongside Moroccan-born druglord Daniel Serero. Police investigators were able to seize three large shipments during the operation - 2 tons of hashish in Montreal, 400 kilos in Toronto and 500 kilos in London. The Cotroni-Serero drug ring was rounded up just before they were about to take control of 170 kilos of cocaine. As a result Cotroni was yet again sent to prison for another 7 years.

While behind bars Cotroni heard the devastating news that his son Paolo had been shot dead in front of his home in Repentigny, probably as a result of some ongoing feud. In 2001 Cotroni was once more released from prison. By now he had spent about 30 years of his life behind bars. Not much later the aging Mafialeader was arrested once more for violating his parole, but was released due to bad health. In 2004 the 73-year old Cotroni eventually died of brain cancer.


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