Police say that an arrest has been made in connection with two organized crime-related murders in Hamilton and Woodbridge last year while two other suspects have fled to Mexico.

Members of the Hamilton Police Service, York Regional Police and the RCMP’s Hamilton-Niagara Detachment have been conducting a joint forces investigation into the murders of veterinary technician Mila Barberi and reputed mobster Angelo Musitano since January.

Barberi, 28, was gunned down in broad daylight on March 14, 2017 as she sat in a car parked outside a business on Caster Avenue, in the Highway 7 and Weston Road area. Barberi’s boyfriend, identified as 42-year-old Sevarrio Serano, was hit twice by bullets but survived.

“Barberi was not the intended target that day, but Serano was,” Hamilton police Det. Sgt. Peter Thom said, adding Serano’s father is known to police and believed to be connected to organized crime figures.

Musitano, meanwhile, was shot to death as he sat in his pickup truck in the driveway of his home on Chesapeake Drive in Waterdown on May 2, 2017.

“It was evident from the beginning that this very public execution was the result of his involvement in the family business.” Thom said. “His family members know why he was killed, despite that they have chosen to remain silent.”

So officers from the three services joined together under Project “Scopa,” which Thom said is Italian for broom but is also a word for a very popular card game.

They sought almost 150 warrants and conducted numerous searches in early 2018. About 16 detectives worked nearly full-time to support the investigation.

Thom said the suspects responsible for both murders started planning for them in late 2016, using complex surveillance techniques and involving a number of other accomplices to spy on the victims and their families.

In May 2017, about two months after Barberi was shot dead and shortly after Musitano's murder, a suspect in the killings identified as Michael Graham Cudmore, flew to Cancun, Mexico, to join an associate of his named Daniel Ranieri.

On Jan. 27, 2018, four days after police publicly said they had linked the two murders together, another of the three men suspected in their killing, Daniel Mario Tomassetti, flew to Cancun, Mexico, and did not return as planned one week later.

He is known to operate a travel business called Wave Travel.

In March of this year, Ranieri’s body was found bound in a ditch in Cancun.

Thom said that since the discovery of Ranieri’s body, Cudmore’s family has not heard from him at all and has reported him as a missing person.

A third suspect, identified as Jabril Hassan Abdalla, 27, did not flee the country and was arrested at his home in Hamilton on Wednesday at 3 p.m.

He and the other two men sought on warrants are facing charges including two counts of first-degree murder and three counts of conspiracy to commit murder.

Police are talking to Interpol and Mexican authorities in a bid to apprehend Cudmore and Tomassetti.

Thom said one of the three men is believed to have pulled the trigger in both incidents, but he would not say who.

“It was evident that these three individuals were not the masterminds,” Thom said of the suspects.

Police said Thursday they have identified a number of other persons of interest in the case, and say they detected some sort of schism between two factions of mafia in Toronto and the GTA.

“With the rest of the incidents occurring across the province — murders, arsons and bombings — there seems to be some kind of power struggle going on,” Thom said.

The extended probe into the two murders has also revealed connections to last week’s shooting death of real estate agent Albert Iavarone.

Hamilton police say Iavarone knew two of the three men accused in the murders of Musitano and Barberi, was “very close” to a person of interest in the case, and personally knew Musitano himself.

But Thom and other investigators stopped short of linking Iavarone’s murder to the other incidents.