The Quebec government has awarded a contract to a company that operates an illegal landfill and is owned by someone associated with organized crime, our Bureau of Investigations found.
• Also read: A police officer forged a court document
The Société Québécoise des Infrastructures (SQI) has awarded Location Tri-Box an over-the-counter contract to bury wood chips and earth removed from the site of a future secondary school in Saint-Jérôme.
Photo agency QMI, Louis-Dominique Lamarche
The SQI doesn’t seem to have done much research before issuing the $33,300 warrant last August to the company of Roberto Scopa, brother of mobsters Andrew and Salvatore Scopa, both of whom were murdered in 2019.
A simple check on the Department of Environment’s website would have enabled the SQI to know that Tri-Box was operating its landfill illegally.
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fines and notices
In January 2020, Tri-Box had already been fined $10,000 for disposing of contaminated soil on its land in an agricultural zone in Mirabel.
These contained more arsenic, zinc, fluoranthene and pyrene than the permissible limits.
“Since 2019 the [ministère] three breaches of the Tri-Box site for the dumping of contaminated soil, the backfilling of a wetland and the setting up of residue recovery facilities without a permit,” said Frédéric Fournier, spokesman for the Minister for the Environment.
Photo Dominique Cambron-Goulet
Remnants of concrete and brick are mostly on its grounds.
In addition to these violations of the law, the situation is so serious that the department wants to file criminal charges against Tri-Box. “The file is currently in the [Directeur des poursuites criminelles et pénales] DPCP for analysis,” added Mr. Fournier.
The SQI admits that it did not check with the Ministry of the Environment before concluding the agreement.
“This contract did not require a public tender and Tri-Box presented itself as a company that could carry out land reclamation,” replies Martin Roy, spokesman for the SQI. The contract provides for the company’s obligation to comply with all applicable laws and regulations.
The SQI ended up paying Tri-Box nearly $55,000 because the prospective school’s site required more dirt and wood disposal than anticipated.
“It will be removed”
Roberto Scopa wanted to meet us in the presence of his lawyer. During that interview, he admitted he still hasn’t met the Environment Ministry’s requirements since his sanction in early 2020.
He accused another company of bringing contaminated soil to him in 2019. Earth that was still on his land at the end of April.
“Anything that needs to be removed will be removed this year. All the gravel, the rest [sols] contaminated, argued Mr. Scopa. Do I still accept concrete and such? nope.”
When asked if he had accepted concrete or brick from the ministry since his fine, Mr Scopa replied: “Maybe a truck or two that we couldn’t turn around”.
He also denies the ministry’s claims about wetlands, asserting that he has the right to crush concrete and brick on site to use as the foundation of a road for trucks to travel on.
– In collaboration with Eric Thibault
Location Tri-Box co-founders Roberto Skoppa and Jonathan Borbely were also involved in another controversial landfill company, G&R Recyclage, based in Kanesatake.
Scopa and Borbely were partners there in 2015, a few months before Tri-Box was founded.
G&R Recyclage’s owners, brothers Gary and Robert Gabriel, have extensive criminal records dating back to the 1980’s.
Notably, they were sentenced to prison in 2006 for being instrumental in the riots that followed the fire at Grand Chief James Gabriel’s home and for kidnapping 67 Mohawk Nation police officers.
In 2009, Gary Gabriel was also implicated in a drug bust against organized crime. Hundreds of cannabis plants and several weapons had been confiscated.
Recently, last July, Gary Gabriel was talking to gang leader Arsène Mompoint at his cannabis dispensary when he was shot dead.
Roberto Scoppa said he didn’t know the Gabriel brothers “at all” before joining G&R.
Roberto Scoppa (right) with his brother Andrew during a police manhunt in 2015.
“I didn’t know they were criminals,” he said. I knew Jonathan Borbely who took me to his father [NDLR Stephen Borbely, un autre associé de G&R] who convinced me to buy 10% of his company.”
Mr Scoppa says he “never had any contact” with the Gabriel brothers except when he decided to leave the company because he was not making any money. He claims to have left G&R in 2017.
In 2020, G&R Recycling’s license was revoked by the ministry. The story made headlines.
“Blackwater” that flowed from the garbage heaps was reportedly released directly into the environment without treatment The presslast fall.
During a visit in 2020, one of the site’s employees also mentioned to inspectors “that they are no longer welcome on the sorting center premises to conduct their inspection”.
Two known brothers
Roberto Scopa was recently targeted by the police because of his family ties. He is the brother of gangsters Andrew and Salvatore Scopa, who were both murdered in 2019.
Andrew Scopa was shot dead in October 2019.
◆ Andrew was considered by police to be the acting boss of the Montreal Mafia between 2014 and 2015, some time after the death of godfather Vito Rizzuto.
Salvatore Scopa was killed at the Sheraton Hotel in Laval in May 2019.
◆ Salvatore Scopa ordered several murders, including that of Mafioso Rocco Sollecito.
Prior to her assassination, police placed Roberto Scopa along with his brothers in the Montreal Mafia organizational chart. In 2015, police caught two encounters between Andrew and Roberto as part of his pursuit of the Estacade project.
In an interview, Roberto Scoppa agreed that he has been linked to his brothers’ criminal cases in the past, but claims he has long since steered clear of it.
He claimed to have never spoken to his brother Salvatore “since 2011-2012.” “We fought to the max and never spoke to each other again,” he said.
As for his brother Andrew, he first said he hadn’t spoken to him since 2013. “Since Vito [Rizzuto] died, I stopped speaking to him because I saw things happening that I didn’t like,” he swears. He then claimed Andrew approached him “a couple of times” afterwards. “I didn’t want to be part of their business,” he says.
Our research also shows that Roberto Scopa registered Tri-Box in 2015 at his brother Andrew’s residence address.
That year, the three Scopa brothers had registered a company at that address.
Roberto Scoppa explained that he uses this address, where his mother lives, because he rents a room there to keep his business documents, which he doesn’t have room for at home.
In Colombia with a mighty hell
In January 2019, Roberto Scopa traveled with the Hells Angels Martin Robert, according to police information accessed by our Bureau of Investigation.
Photo archive, agency QMI
Martin Robert is considered by the police to be the most influential member of the Hells Angels in Quebec. Arrested in 2009 in connection with Operation SharQc, after serving nine months in prison, he spent five years in prison on conspiracy to commit murder.
Roberto Scopa said it was a coincidence that he ended up staying at the same hotel as Hells Robert in Cartagena, Colombia. He explained that he was vacationing there with his family.
“I wasn’t on the same plane as this man. I just saw him eating at the next table and told my wife he looked like the guy on TV. We googled it and she said it was him. So I told him that every time he came we would switch tables. I don’t want to be associated with him because those are the people who are against my brothers.”
Mr Scopa claimed he had not been in contact with his brothers for years in 2019.
“Surely I’m not going there with him [Martin Robert]? Are you crazy? It was when the war [entre différents clans du crime organisé] started and I would sit with someone connected to other people? Do you think a little?”
Roberto Scopa pleaded guilty to no fewer than 12 criminal offenses on six separate counts in the 1990s and 2000s.
These include possession of drugs (including cocaine and heroin) and possession of devices used to illegally intercept communications.
In one of these cases, the judge even banned him from owning certain weapons for life.