Organized Crime Figure Who Threatened Priest Shot Dead

Written by:
Jagajeet Chiba
Published on:

A man arrested as part of the Operation Colisée sweep of the Montreal Mafia in 2006 was identified as a shooting victim Monday.

Francesco Del Balso was shot dead near the corner of Deacon Street and St-Régis Boulevard in Dorval in Montreal's West Island.

Del Balso was considered a high ranking figure in Montreal's Mafia but his efforts to carve out his own space in the field of gambling and extortion led to a clash with the powerful Rizzuto crime family and authorities believed he was "next on the execution list" after his release from prison in 2016.

On Nov. 8, 2004, Del Balso had been captured on a recorded conversation discussing one of the people who managed the organization's sports gambling a deadbeat gambler, Frank Faustini, whose account they were shutting off.  They were also requiring him to pay $800,000 owed.


Richard Griffin would later be shot dead in front of his Terrebonne St. home.  The likely motive: Griffin was Faustini's business partner and blocked access to the cash that would have repaid the debt to the Mafia.

Del Balso was not charged in the murder but instead convicted of gangsterism and conspiracy to import cocaine.

In September 2022, Laval, Que. police arrested Del Balso in connection to threats and extortion against the leaders of a local religious community.  At the time he claimed his ex-wife mistakenly donated expensive jewelry to a convent.  He allegedly confronted a priest and ordered him to pay $5000 if the jewelry was not returned.

Del Balso's murder confirms the mafia war in Montreal is "not yet over," said Antonio Nicaso.  He is the author of more than 40 books on organized crime.

Del Balso even tried to flee the country and had his passport taken away.  He believed he was a hunted man.

"We learned he was a suspect in the attempted murder of Leonardo Rizzuto — he had some important connections to the Hells Angels," said Nicaso.

- Jagajeet Chiba,

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