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Quebec man convicted in Mafia-linked drug bust to be deported to Italy

Michele Torre is seen at his home Thursday, September 8, 2016, in Laval, Quebec. Torre, a Quebec man convicted in 1996 for his role in a Mafia-linked conspiracy, appears to have run out of options to stay in Canada and is scheduled to be deported to his native Italy Friday night, his lawyer said.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz

MONTREAL — Michele Torre, a Quebec man convicted in 1996 for his role in a Mafia-linked conspiracy, appears to have run out of options to stay in Canada and is scheduled to be deported to his native Italy Friday night, his lawyer said.

Stephane Handfield said his client arrived at Montreal-Pierre Elliott Trudeau International Airport around 5 p.m., and barring a last-minute intervention by the federal public safety minister, he will be on a flight to Europe in a few hours.

Canada’s public safety minister has intervened at least four times in Torre’s case to stop his deportation, Handfield said. But he has received no indication Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale will be issuing a stay this time, Handfield said in an interview.

Handfield said he emailed Goodale’s office Friday morning but “received no response” from the minister or his aides.

Torre, 66, received his permanent residency to Canada in 1967. He was convicted in 1996 in a cocaine-importation conspiracy linked to the Cotroni crime family and served part of a nearly nine-year prison sentence.

In 2006, Torre again found himself swept up by police during a massive operation aimed at dismantling Montreal’s powerful Mafia. He spent nearly three years in custody but was ultimately acquitted. Since 2013, federal authorities have sought to remove Torre for “serious criminality and organized criminality.”

Torre and his family claim it is unfair to deport him so long after his last conviction, which now dates back 23 years. They argue he should be allowed to stay on humanitarian grounds since he has lived in Canada so long and his wife, children and grandchildren are here.

He was on the verge of being deported in 2016 before a ministerial reprieve arrived 90 minutes before his flight. He was then given a two-year temporary residence permit. After that expired, the Canada Border Services Agency scheduled a deportation date, this time for Feb. 28, but Goodale’s office intervened again — on the morning of his scheduled flight — and granted a reprieve.

Handfield said that on March 11 the CBSA gave Torre another deportation date, scheduled for March 22.

The lawyer decried the plan to have his client accompanied by three CBSA agents on the flight to Italy, which he claims will single him out for interrogation by authorities upon arrival.

“When you see someone escorted by three people when he arrives in his country of origin, what do you think?” Handfield said. “We worry about his arrival. What will be the attitude of the Italian customs officials?”

A spokesman for Goodale’s office said the minister cannot comment on an individual case.

Giuseppe Valiante, The Canadian Press