Ricardo Barbaro’s family has been linked to the mafia and murder in Australia for most of his life.
Ricardo Barbaro’s family has been linked to the mafia and murder in Australia for most of his life.

Inside the Barbaros’ deep links to crime, bloody deaths

Despite a family surname etched in Australian organised crime, Ricardo "Rick" Barbaro was never on the public or police radar.

His family has been linked to mafia, murder and manhunts since he was three years

old, when his "Godfather'' grandfather was gunned down by the mob.

But until 12 days ago, when the body of girlfriend Ellie Price was found in her South Melbourne home, he had never been associated with the kind of serious crime that has plagued his forbears.

Ms Price's mother raised concerns for her daughter's welfare leading to the horror discovery on May 4. Barbaro, 33, was no where to be found but the countdown to his arrest had begun.

On Thursday the hunt came to an end in a bloody scuffle in an apartment in Sydney's western suburbs.

Police yesterday drove Barbaro to Melbourne to face a charge of murdering Ms Price.

It was no secret that the pair had a fiery relationship.

Despite the problems that existed, Barbaro's family were dismayed at the murder of Ms Price and the vanishing of a son once considered to be the "bright one''.

Ricardo Barbaro is escorted to a prison van in Sydney, earlier this week.
Ricardo Barbaro is escorted to a prison van in Sydney, earlier this week.

Barbaro, however, was never destined to be a "wise guy'.

The Barbaros are connected by deep roots within Australia's Calabrian mafia.

But the awful events of the last two weeks have been viewed with disdain by "Honoured Society'' members. One relative had already coined the term "plastic" to refer to Barbaro, noting a change in the young man a few years ago.

He was not considered part of the mafia family.

As a youth, Barbaro was a "good kid'' who had gone to university.

 

Ricardo was considered to be the “bright one’’
Ricardo was considered to be the “bright one’’

A quiet boy, he was raised by his mother in Queensland before heading to Melbourne, moving in with his father Joe, stepmother Anita and their daughters.

Later, he would father two children, but it interfered with the faster lifestyle he craved and his longest relationship broke down.

By then Barbaro was frequenting strip clubs and "getting around the city thinking he was 10ft tall''.

Those who knew better called him out on his antics: "He talks a lot of sh--."

In the past week police held concerns the ''Honoured Society'' would take Barbaro in.

But there was no honour in this.

Like his grandfather and older brother before him, Ricardo Barbaro was cast aside.

The Barbaros' links to crime and bloody death in Australia run deep.

Barbaro's brother, Pasquale Timothy Barbaro, was a musclebound Sydney underworld drug boss who when threatened with conflict paid off his enemies.

 

Pasquale Barbaro, Ricardo’s brother met a bloody death.
Pasquale Barbaro, Ricardo’s brother met a bloody death.

In November, 2016, having a year earlier evaded a hit man's bullet, the 35-year-old would be ambushed and killed outside the home of construction boss George Alex in the Sydney suburb of Earlwood.

At the time of his death he was widely thought to have been a police snitch.

Pasquale had suffered the same fate as his grandfather, whom he was named after, Pasquale "Peter'' Barbaro.

He too survived a contract hit, but his days were numbered after leaving his wife, and the mob, heading to the Philippines and returning with a new wife.

Worse, the one time Godfather, who had controlled the Canberra area, fell foul of the rules, namely its principle rule of "omertà'' - silence.

In his case, it had become widely known he was a National Crime Authority informer.

In 1990 he was gunned down in a Brisbane street.

Peter Barbaro was gunned down in 1990.
Peter Barbaro was gunned down in 1990.

Better known to Victorians is a third Pasquale, a cousin, who died in a hail of bullets alongside gangland figure Jason Moran at an Essendon Auskick clinic during Melbourne's gangland war.

The pair were sitting in the front seats of a mini-van with five young children in the back when a gunman approached and shot both men dead.

A final Pasquale, known as ''Pat'' Barbaro, is another cousin.

''Pat'' Barbaro is considered the mastermind of the massive "Tomato Tins'' ecstasy importation which arrived on Melbourne's docks in June, 2007.

It sparked one of the nation's most complex investigations and is still the subject of legal challenges.

Harley, Ricardo’s brothers is a member of the Mongols Gold Coast chapter.
Harley, Ricardo’s brothers is a member of the Mongols Gold Coast chapter.

Yet despite the extensive criminal connections, Ricardo has never been part of that world. Ricardo Barbaro's family history probably harmed, rather than helped, his ability to hide this week.

His only living brother, Harley, is a Mongol bikie member from the Gold Coast, but he did not head there.

For their father, Giuseppe ''Joe'' Barbaro, life has been pot-marked with lawlessness and bloody tragedy.

 

Ricardo’s stepmother Anita and father Joe Barbaro. Picture: David Caird
Ricardo’s stepmother Anita and father Joe Barbaro. Picture: David Caird

In 2004, his infant daughter was kidnapped from a shopping centre, and two days later found safe in a dilapidated North Melbourne house.

In 2005 he and his eldest son were imprisoned together over their involvement in a drug ring.

He lost his father and son the same way. Ambushed on the street by a hitman.

Another son, Rossario, took his own life.

And now this.

In a line borrowed from Lethal Weapon, he now sighs ''I'm too old for this''.

''He's my son,'' is all he would say of Ricardo.

They have been estranged for the past five years.

It is understood that before Barbaro vanished he had been living with either his mother or grandmother.

But he was told to move on.

You can do anything, it seems, but never go against the family.

 

WHO'S WHO IN THE BARBARO FAMILY

 

GRANDFATHER

Pasquale ''Peter'' Barbaro: A one time ''Godfather'' within the Calabrian mafia after emigrating to Australia in 1957. His life was cut short in 1990 after he was ambushed, stabbed and shot, outside his Brisbane home. His sin was to leave his wife for the Philippines and return with a Filipino wife. It had also become known he was co-operating with the National Crime Authority in 1990.

FATHER

Giuseppe ''Joe'' Barbaro: Melbourne resident and father of eight children to three women. His sons, Pasquale, Rossario (both deceased), Harley and Ricardo, have all been targets of police. He has avoided the spotlight since he was on the run and later jailed in 2005 over drug offences.

BROTHER

Pasquale Timothy Barbaro: Grandson of Pasquale (snr), he became a drug boss in Sydney before he was murdered in 2016. He was also a suspected police informer.

BROTHER

Harley Barbaro: Gold Coast Mongols bikie who has launched High Court challenges against Queensland's anti-consorting laws.

BROTHER

Rossario Barbaro: Gold Coast man who killed himself in 2017 following the murder of his brother, Pasquale.

STEPMOTHER

Anita Barbaro: Wife of Joe Barbaro, Anita was thrust into the media's glare when her daughter was kidnapped from a shopping centre carpark in 2004. She was found two days later.

COUSIN

Pasquale Barbaro: Gangland bodyguard who was shot dead by a masked hitman alongside Jason Moran in 2003 as they sat in a van at an Auskick clinic in Essendon.

COUSIN

Pasquale Barbaro: Son of Francesco "Little Trees'' Barbaro, who has been identified as a member of Australia's Calabrian mafia.

*For 24-hour domestic violence support call the national hotline 1800RESPECT on 1800 737 732 or MensLine on 1800 600 636. 

Originally published as Inside the Barbaros' deep links to crime, bloody deaths

Pat Barbaro died along side Jason Moran during the Gangland War.
Pat Barbaro died along side Jason Moran during the Gangland War.


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