The Dixon City Bloods gang feared violent reprisals from Toronto Mayor Rob Ford's former driver, Alessandro Lisi, if a video of the politician allegedly smoking crack cocaine was released, newly unsealed police documents reveal.
The alleged threats were intercepted in May through wiretaps targeting the Dixon gang, which was raided last year in a drugs-and-guns investigation known as Project Traveller. In one phone conversation, Mr. Lisi warned accused gang member Liban Siyad that the Dixon neighbourhood was "going to get heated up all summer" until the video was retrieved.
In another intercepted call, Mr. Siyad advised a group of friends that Mr. Ford's driver told a man nicknamed Juiceman: "You're fucking dead and everybody on your block is dead."
Summaries of the gang's wiretapped conversations released by the Ontario Superior Court on Thursday were included in police affidavits submitted this year to obtain phone records in connection with Project Brazen 2 – a sweeping investigation triggered nearly 11 months ago by reports about the Ford video.
Mr. Lisi, a friend of the mayor, faces several drug charges and a charge of extortion related to an alleged attempt to retrieve the Ford video. He is accused of threatening Mr. Siyad and Mohamed Siad, whom police believe made the recording on a cellphone.
A team of Toronto detectives is still investigating whether others were involved in making threats. In the intercepted calls that have been disclosed, Mr. Lisi, 35, did not threaten death. But the alleged death threats were talked about in phone conversations.
None of the allegations against Mr. Lisi has been tested in court, and the mayor has not been charged.
According to police affidavits, Mr. Lisi reached out to Mr. Siyad an hour after the U.S. website Gawker broke news of the video at 8:28 p.m. on May 16, 2013. A photograph of Mr. Ford with accused gang members was published with the Gawker story.
Mr. Lisi pressed Mr. Siyad about the photo, asking whether the 22-year-old and his buddies were distributing pictures and a video, police summaries of their intercepted conversations state. He promised to reward Mr. Siyad if he got to the bottom of who was trying to sell the video.
The pair had dealt with each other before. Toronto Police allege Mr. Lisi gave Mr. Siyad a large quantity of marijuana last April in exchange for the mayor's cellphone, which went missing late at night at an Etobicoke bungalow that police have described as a crack house.
The calls from Mr. Lisi allegedly turned menacing. In a May 17 phone conversation involving Mr. Siyad, Juiceman and several others, Juiceman advised the group that a man warned him: "If that video gets released, I'm gonna, I'm gonna run through all your houses, me and all the, all the Toronto Police, we're gonna, we're gonna, we're gonna done, all you done, we say I'm gonna done you guys."
Police believe the individual who called Juiceman was Mr. Lisi. Investigators do not know Juiceman's identity, the affidavits state.
The latest insight into Project Brazen 2 stems from the media's bid to unseal court records connected to the high-profile investigation. Lawyers representing several organizations, including The Globe and Mail, contend the information is in the public interest. In all, Project Traveller wiretaps captured 50 communications related to Mr. Ford on May 17.
The mayor's brother, Councillor Doug Ford, said he is frustrated by the "drib and drab" of information from court documents. Asked if the mayor knows "a few dirty cops," as is claimed in a conversation picked up on police wiretaps, Councillor Ford said: "No, not at all."
With a report from Elizabeth Church.