Arsons, murders: power struggle in the mafia?

The recent rash of arsons in the Montreal area appear to be linked to the mafia and at least one expert says she doesn't believe they'll be ending anytime soon.

Montreal police have reportedly said there were 13 mafia-related fires in 2016, most of them happening in the last four months of the year. This year started with two more such incidents.

Criminologist Maria Mourani said she's not surprised by the recent string of mafia-related arsons.

"Since the death of Vito Rizzuto, the mafia is not stable in Montreal, they're looking for a parrain - a godfather," said Mourani, referring to Rizzuto, the presumed godfather and leader of the Montreal mafia who died of natural causes in 2013.

"They fight for everything: they want more money, more power, more territory, so it's very unstable."

And Mourani said the recent blitz of arsons may have to do with the lucrative and powerful bookmaking side of the business since police have said that cafes targetted in September were linked to this.

"It's always to give a message or threaten a person, to say ok, ...Sometimes they do it because this person have debts with them," said Mourani.

"It's always the same message: threats and if they want to kill someone, they know where they have to go to kill someone."

Mourani said other factors in the mix are organized crime groups from outside Quebec wanting to establish a foothold plus the everpresent biker gangs who may seek to further destabilize the mafia here.

"The mafia is not stable and the bikers, they are more stable, so we will see."