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Moreno Gallo, shown in 2010.


The invisible hand shaking out Montreal's underworld has reached all the way to Mexico to claim gangster Moreno Gallo from his beachside retirement retreat.

The 68-year-old one-time player in the crime network run by Vito Rizzuto was shot dead Sunday night at an Italian restaurant in Acapulco. Dressed in white slacks and a pink shirt, Mr. Gallo was dining with friends at a restaurant named Forza Italia when a man dressed in black shot him several times in the head with a 9mm pistol, according to local media reports.

Ten years ago, Mr. Gallo was touted as the potential replacement godfather of the Montreal Mob, but his star faded with stints in prison and the threat of expulsion from Canada. La Presse newspaper reported Monday that he also picked the wrong side in a power struggle for control of the city.

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Mr. Gallo was from the Calabrian clan that ran Montreal into the late 1970s. When the Sicilian Rizzutos rose to power, they incorporated several survivors, Mr. Gallo among them, from the ranks of their former Calabrian enemies.

In their book Mafia Inc., crime writers André Cédilot and André Noël say Mr. Gallo was tabbed as a potential Rizzuto clan leader in the early 2000s, and police affidavits name him as part of an inner circle that handled the family's money and settled disputes over drug territory.

Evidence filed in court showed Mr. Gallo was one of a handful of gang members who paid tribute to the Rizzutos at their hangout Café Cosenza. In 2005, RCMP investigators videotaped family patriarch Nicolo Rizzuto stuffing wads of cash into his socks, and Mr. Gallo provided a two-inch wad of cash for the stuffing.

The video is now part of Mafia lore in Montreal, but it was also key evidence. Mr. Gallo, an Italian immigrant and permanent resident of Canada who was convicted of a drug murder in 1974, was on permanent parole. The video was enough for Canadian authorities to expel him in 2012.

The Rizzuto family hit hard times with the imprisonment of Vito Rizzuto in 2004 and many remaining bosses in 2006. An ensuing war killed off several important family members, including Vito Rizzuto's father and son, both named Nicolo Rizzuto.

By 2010, Salvatore (Sal the Ironworker) Montagna, a New York mobster, was trying to seize control of Montreal. Mr. Gallo was among the former Rizzuto stalwarts who rallied to his side, according to La Presse.

Mr. Montagna was gunned down in November, 2011. Gangster Raynald Desjardins and others are awaiting trial for murder. Mr. Gallo was deported two months later. Several crime reporters in Montreal, citing unnamed police and underworld sources, have recently declared that Vito Rizzuto, out of jail since 2012, is back in firm control of Montreal.

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