MONTREAL - Investigators are expected to be out in force Sunday to monitor the funeral visitation of reputed Mafia boss Vito Rizzuto.
Montreal police spokesman Andre Leclerc says officers will likely be discreetly observing the east-end funeral home where the event will take place.
Leclerc says police will also be directing traffic outside the visitation, which is expected to draw a big crowd.
Rizzuto — who led a powerful criminal organization that stretched beyond Canada's borders — died of natural causes in hospital last Monday.
His funeral will be held Monday at a Catholic church in Montreal's Little Italy.
According to one retired RCMP analyst, police often use funerals and visitations — along with weddings and baptisms — as an opportunity to update photos of persons of interest and establish any new allegiances within the Mafia.
Mafia expert Pierre de Champlain said visitations can be an especially valuable place to "gather intelligence" because they are more informal and often attract more people with ties to the underworld than the funerals themselves.
"It's not the front door they'll be watching, it's the back," de Champlain said of the Loreto Funeral Complex, which is owned by a member of the Rizzuto family.
"The most interesting people will probably arrive in vehicles and enter by the underground garage to avoid being seen by the media and the police."
Others may choose to steer clear of the event, sending flowers or a note instead, he said.
The visitation for Rizzuto's father, Nicolo, in 2010 was held in the same place.
Back then, police could be seen filming and photographing those entering the complex. Other officers directed traffic while curious residents gathered to watch the spectacle.
This time, de Champlain expects there could be an even greater turnout, considering the younger Rizzuto's power and reach.
Rizzuto returned to Canada in 2012 after spending six years in a U.S. prison. Experts say he quickly took back control of his organization following a period of turmoil for the family during which both his father and son were killed.
De Champlain said it appears there's no clear successor within the Rizzuto family and his death could lead to a tumultuous period in the criminal underworld.
"If that's the case, we can expect a difficult period for the next months in the Montreal Mafia," he said.
In the coming days, de Champlain said crime leaders from Montreal, Toronto, New York and beyond will likely meet to discuss how Rizzuto's turf will be run.
"If there is violence, it means that there's turbulence behind the scenes, and the new leader doesn't have control."
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