National Newswatch

A man whose family has well-known ties to organized crime was gunned down outside his Hamilton home this week in what police called a targeted attack — an incident experts said was indicative of upheaval in the underworld.

Cece Luppino was shot at close range sometime between 3:30 p.m. and 5:50 p.m. Wednesday, when he was found by a family member, said Det. Sgt. Peter Thom.

"It was a close-up encounter and obviously with where it occurred, it was a very specific and targeted event," Thom told reporters.  

Investigators don't yet have a motive for the slaying, nor is there any suspect information, Thom said. He noted Luppino had no criminal record and was not known to police, though he acknowledged the family's mob ties.

"It's something that we're alive to," he said. "We don't know what the motive is, but that's a main avenue that we'll keep poking."

Thom said Luppino, 43, worked for the family's realty and cafe in the Hamilton community of Stoney Creek.

Luppino's family — who have said they do not wish to speak publicly about the shooting — are co-operating with police, he said.

The shooting is the latest in a string of slayings involving members of southern Ontario crime families.

Albert Iavarone was gunned down outside his Hamilton home in September while his wife and two children were inside. And in 2017, Angelo Musitano was shot dead in the driveway of his Hamilton home. 

Meanwhile, Mila Barberi was shot and killed in a car with her boyfriend, Saviero Serrano.

Serrano, who was also shot but survived, was allegedly the intended target of the bullet that killed Barberi, police have said. In a September press conference, Thom alleged the Serrano family is tied to organized crime in York region.

One person is in custody and two are wanted in connection with Musitano and Barberi's deaths.

Together, the slayings paint a picture of a criminal landscape in turmoil, experts said.

"This is a time of bloodshed," said James Dubro, who has tracked the goings-on of Canadian crime families for decades and wrote the book "Mob Rule: Inside the Canadian Mafia."

Luppino's grandfather came to Canada from Calabria in the 1950s, and established himself as a mafia leader, Dubro said, noting that the family name became synonymous with the mob.

"It's difficult when you have a name like that," Dubro said. "Whether you're totally innocent or not."

Stephen Metelsky, an organized crime expert and former Halton regional police officer who now teaches at Mohawk College, echoed that sentiment.

"I think there's an unfair stigmatization that because he has the last name, because there's the bloodlines, there's an assumption everybody makes that they're all involved, but that's not always completely accurate at all," he said.

But he said that the fact Luppino was killed — despite no indication that he was involved in the criminal hierarchy — is significant.

"The latest trend is that these homicides are getting not only sloppy, they're involving innocent people not involved in the life," he said. "And then people that are involved in that life like Angelo Musitano, Iavarone, they're getting murdered mere steps away from their front door, where their families are."

Nicole Thompson, The Canadian Press

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