The Shotgun Blog
Tuesday, December 20, 2005
Mark Bourque killed
Mark Bourque, retired RCMP officer, was shot and killed in Haiti. This man died as a peacekeeper, but before that he was a tenacious cop who helped bring down a drug lord.
In an eight-month period in 1981 alone, RCMP Sgt. Mark Bourque was able to show in an earlier investigation that failed to nail [Alfonso] Caruana on criminal charges, the mobster shovelled more than $21-million through his bank accounts at the City and District Savings Bank in Montreal. Some days, he would literally drive up to the bank with a pickup truck loaded with bags of money.
Some time ago I met with Sergeant Mark Bourque of the Montreal RCMP. He told me about the misadventures encountered during Operation Pilgram. Bourque was on the tracks of a powerful organization that in a couple of years had deposited more than 30 million dollars in cash in some Canadian banks. When he tried to shed some light on that whirlwind of money he was met with endless miles of red tape and infinite difficulties.
Caruana was ordered extradited to Italy just last year. According to a July 4, 2003 National Post story by Bloodlines co-author Lee Lamothe, "The Italian case was bolstered by testimony from RCMP Sergeant Mark Bourque, who painstakingly outlined the families' complex financial operations from Canada to Switzerland."
Mark Bourque, one of the good guys. Farewell.
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"Mark Bourque, one of the good guys. Farewell."
So does the killing of retired RCMP officer Mark Bourque have anything to do with his activities investigating murky money dealings in Canada?
Posted by: Joseph molnar | 2005-12-20 8:19:52 PM
Those links are incredibly pregnant. You can't read them without feeling bitterly sad for our fallen friend Mark Bourque, and for the characters, institutions and media in our country.
We really, really do need a Stephen Harper government right now.
Posted by: EBD | 2005-12-20 8:23:08 PM
Mario Possamai quotes him in his book "Money on the Run". Says he pieced together the biggest money laundering operation ever involving the Sicilian mafia in North America. That's the case you quoted above, involving Caruana.
Posted by: Raging Ranter | 2005-12-20 10:04:45 PM
So the RCMP does have officers capable of forensic accounting involving money laundering in criminal organizations?
Posted by: rebarbarian | 2005-12-21 6:16:01 AM
Mark Bourque was a lamb; the lamb has been silenced. RIP, Mark Bourque. >>>>>>>>
Dirty Money Really Smells
""It didn't smell right"," a bank-clerk told prosecutor Gioacchino Natoli when he heard her in Montreal during a rogatory investigation, following the arrest of Caruana and Cuffaro. Natoli still recalls the event with surprise. (62) The dirty money the clan laundered through several Canadian banks really stank. ""It smelled musty"." The cash was all in small bills of two, five or ten dollars, the typical denomination of drug transactions on the street.
The bulk of the evidence used by Falcone to indict the Cuntrera-Caruana clan in 1989 was gathered by one single policeman from Montreal. Sergeant Marc Bourque of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police was appointed to investigate the financial aspects after the seizure of 58 kilo of heroin in 1985.
One of the persons under arrest was Gerlando Caruana. When Bourque wanted to look into Caruana's bank accounts, an employee said he would not find much there, but he should look at the accounts of Gerlando's brother, Alfonso Caruana. (63) What Bourque found there would keep him busy for the next five years. He code-named his investigation Operation Pilgrim – and a pilgrimage it proved to be. Bourque wandered through the international financial worl; he heard 300 witnesses in nine countries, his dossier amounted to 3,600 pages. Bourque laid bare the money laundering system of the clan in Montreal – although whether he found all the money, nobody knows.
In one bank alone Bourque traced nearly 16 million US dollars laundered through accounts of Alfonso Caruana. Every week a couple of Sicilians entered the branch of the City & District Bank in the Montreal suburb Dollard-des-Ormeaux carrying hockey-bags filled with half a million in cash. The tellers spent a half day counting the small bills. The clan brought in its dirty dollars and walked out with clean bank drafts. Thirty-six million US dollars ended up in Swiss bank-accounts which were used to pay the Sicilian heroin suppliers. (64) The dollars the clan transported to Canada were enough to supply the Montreal money-exchange market with its weekly requisite of US cash. Bourque could trace some US$ 50 million laundered by the clan through 4 Canadian banks from 1978 until 1984.
When Bourque presented his case to the Justice Department he was told that it would be discarded: it was deemed too expensive and too intricate. His pioneering investigation never reached a Canadian court. The Department had neither the time nor the money to prosecute the case. The mere summoning of the witnesses alone would cost four or five million dollars.
""Money doesn't just fall of the trees","says Bourque. ""There is no legitimate business in Montreal which generates half a million every week, except the drug business"." He is disgusted with the collaboration of Canadian banks. They earned some 4 to 5 percent on the transactions. The banks must have been aware of the shady backgrounds. After a while they all discreetly showed the Italians the door. But the clan always found a new financial institution to continue their affairs, carefully planning its steps. The bank branches it selected had Italian-born directors, no doubt more sensitive to the ways and means of the Mafia. Aldo Tucci, the director of the City & District branch, was completely integrated in the clan's system. He set up front store companies and neglected his work for the bank. Eventually Tucci was fired.
The Italian judicature very much appreciated the results of Sergeant Bourque's investigation, piecing it together with evidence they gathered during the Italian inquiry of the Pizza Connection. Bourque's evidence was subsequently used in the trials against Cuntrera-Caruana family members.
Bookkeeping is a Dangerous Business
The Italian community abroad is vulnerable to infiltration by its criminal countrymen. That doesn't mean that every Sicilian is a mafioso. Far from it. The most arduous mafia-fighters, like Giovanni Falcone and Paolo Borsellino, are often Sicilian. Evertheless, mafiosi use the Italian communities to hide in, especially when they are from the same village or region on Sicily.
On a visit to Siculiana – the village on the south coast of Sicily where the Cuntreras and Caruanas were born – an elderly villager who spent most of his working life in Germany told me the story of how he was approached by a Cuntrera to 'lend' him his son. The man who had known the family when they still lived in Siculiana, did not think it was a good idea. Why, he would not tell. Nevertheless, it was clear what we were talking about.
Siculiana once counted 12,000 inhabitants; now there are only 5,000 left. During the 1950s and 1960s the village emptied, the men moved to Belgium, Germany, England, Canada, Venezuela, Brazil. Most were merely trying to make a living; others went for more sinister reasons. Some, like Alfonso Gagliano, representative in the Canadian Federal Parliament for Montreal's 'Little Italy' Saint Leonard, rose to prominent positions.
"Siculiana-born Canadian politician Alfonso Gagliano finally became a minister, but did not manage to stay out of trouble"
Les affaires de Gagliano
The accountant Gagliano is a loyal supporter of Canada's Prime-Minister Jean Chrétien. Gagliano organized the Liberal Party's fund raising for the 1993 election-campaign. He was a candidate for a position in the new government of Mr Chrétien. The RCMP is asked to screen every probable future minister, and Mr Gagliano didn't quite pass the test. (65) The Montreal daily "La Presse" revealed why: Gagliano's accountancy firm kept the books of Agostino Cuntrera, a nephew of Pasquale Cuntrera and implicated in the murder of Paolo Violi, boss of the local Cotroni-family, in 1978. The murder was a sign that the Sicilian clan had taken over control in Montreal. Agostino Cuntrera was never convicted; he struck a deal with the Canadian Justice Department.
Asked about his relationship with Agostino Cuntrera, Gagliano said: ""Mr Cuntrera is an acquaintance. We both come from Siculiana. I met him during a engagement in a church. He came to me in the 1970's when he wanted me as his bookkeeper for his restaurant"." Gagliano et Cie kept Agostino Cuntrera as a client after his complicity in the Violi-murder was revealed. Agostino Cuntrera and Gagliano saw each other occasionally during marriages and activities of the "Association de Siculiana", a cultural association founded by Mr Gagliano, who was its first president. Some years after Mr Gagliano's chairmanship, Agostino Cuntrera became president of the association.
Nor was Agostino Cuntrera the only client of Gagliano. Another was Dima Messina, the financial aid of Montreal Mafia-boss Vito Rizzuto. An RCMP investigation showed that Messina laundered 22 million Canadian dollars for Rizzuto in 1986-88. Rizzuto's Ferrari Testarossa (a 250,000 dollar Italian sports car) was registered under Messina's name.
During the controlled delivery of 58 kilos of heroin to Montreal in 1985 – the RCMP and British Customs were aware of the traffic and closely watched the transactions – one of the traffickers, Filippo Vaccarello, and an unidentified person, were observed entering the office of Mr Gagliano before the heroin arrived. After leaving the office Vaccarello proceeded with a tour of notorious bars well-known as selling points for heroin.
Bookkeeping proves to be a sensitive business for a politician. When the matter was discussed in Parliament after "La Presse" disclosed the facts, Premier Chrétien declared: ""This Parliament would be much better off if we had more Gagliano's".">>>
Posted by: maz2 | 2005-12-21 6:37:02 AM
The Diseased Dominion: what's the best way to use the experience of a pioneer in tackling organized crime? Have him share that experience with other officers? No, in Canada you reassign him to VIP protection.
'"I can safely say that [Bourque] was a leader, if not a pioneer in the tackling of organized crime through money laundering investigations," Soave told CTV's Canada AM.'
Globe and Mail
'But later in his career [Bourque] was unhappy to be reassigned to VIP protection.'
Posted by: Kevin Steel | 2005-12-21 7:05:45 AM
Posted by: EBD | 2005-12-31 4:38:59 AM
Is it my paranoia, or should the RCMP investigating the recent scandals be wary of their lives too? If this is what it sounds like, it wasn't a killing. It was a hit.
Posted by: TrustOnlyMulder | 2006-01-08 9:10:03 AM
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