June 27, 2014 3:50 pm

RCMP privately apologize for code name ‘Project Clemenza’

Mario Desmarais, left, with the Montreal Police Department and Michel Arcand with the RCMP speak to reporters during a news conference at RCMP headquarters in Montreal, Thursday, June 12, 2014.

Graham Hughes/The Canadian Press

MONTREAL – The RCMP are apologizing for the code name used to describe its latest anti-Mafia bust in Quebec.

The force’s commanding officer in the province has written a letter to the National Congress of Italian Canadians Quebec chapter, apologizing for calling the sweep “Project Clemenza.”

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The Italian group’s Quebec chapter complained in writing more than a week ago after receiving what it says was numerous complaints from the community about negative stereotyping of the Italian community by the police.

Police described the alleged criminal organizations in a release as being linked to Italian-based organized crime in Montreal.

The project code name refers to Peter Clemenza, a fictional character from the novel and movie The Godfather, which is the sweeping saga of an Italian crime family.

Watch: RCMP arrest dozens in ‘Project Clemenza’

The RCMP has not made the apology public, but confirmed the existence of the letter. The community organization has released a copy.

In it, Francois Deschenes, assistant commissioner and commanding officer for the Quebec detachment, says the police force meant no harm and measures have been taken to make sure it doesn’t happen again.

The organization says it is satisfied with the RCMP response to its concerns and believes the force has understood the code name only serves to reinforce long-standing stereotypes.

The RCMP intercepted more than one million private PIN to PIN messages as part of an anti-Mafia sweep against two organizations that led to more than 30 arrests earlier this month.

The accused face different charges that include gangsterism, conspiracy, drug importation, trafficking, possession, kidnapping, forcible confinement, possession of weapons and explosives, arson, extortion and assault.

© The Canadian Press, 2014

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