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Updated: Thu, 12 Jun 2014 11:59:50 GMT | By CBC News, cbc.ca

Quebec police raids net 31 alleged Mafia members



RCMP Insp. Michel Arcand said the raids benefited from the most extensive electronic surveillance operation of its kind in North America. CBC

RCMP Insp. Michel Arcand said the raids benefited from the most extensive electronic surveillance operation of its kind in North America. CBC

Thirty-one people are in custody this morning after a series of police raids targeting alleged Mafia members in Montreal, Laval, Gatineau and Quebec City.

Some 200 officers from a number of police forces took part in the raids, as part of Operation Clemenza led by the RCMP.

The raids followed an extensive investigation that involved the interception of PIN-to-PIN BlackBerry messages between members of the Guiseppe De Vito and Bastone brothers Mafia cells. 

Insp. Michel Arcand of the RCMP's organized crime division said an investigation between 2010 and 2012 intercepted around one million messages, and involved what he described as a "complex analysis process."

"This is the most important interception of its kind in North America," he said. 

Both Mafia cells, described by the RCMP as "violent and active," emerged after a 2006 police operation code-named Colisée left the Mafia leadership in disarray. 

Colisée resulted in the arrests of more than 70 people, including 16 believed to hold leadership positions in the Montreal Mafia. 

De Vito was one of the leaders targeted by Operation Colisée, but he managed to avoid arrest until 2010.

An associate of the Rizzuto clan, De Vito was found dead in his jail cell last year. 

A coroner's report found traces of cyanide in his blood.

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