Important figures - profiles
Salvatore Riina


Filippo Marchese


Giuseppe Greco


Francesco Madonia


Michele Greco


Francesco Madonia


Giuseppe Lucchese


Michele Zaza






Relevant LCN links

Thompson at Winston – Philip morris – rjr

-       Cigarettes – drugs - money







Salvatore Riina

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Salvatore "Totò" Riina


Mugshot of Mafia boss Totò Riina after his arrest in 1993


16 November 1930 (1930-11-16) (age 79)
Corleone, Sicily


Multiple Murder; Mafia association


Life imprisonment


Imprisoned since 1993


Antonietta Bagarella (sister of Leoluca Bagarella)


Two sons, Giovanni and Giuseppe, and two daughters

Salvatore Riina, also known as Totò Riina (born November 16, 1930 in Corleone) is a member of the Sicilian Mafia who became the most powerful member of the criminal organization in the early 1980s. Fellow mobsters nicknamed him The Beast due to his violent nature, or sometimes The Short One due to his diminutive height (La Belva and U curtu in Sicilian respectively) although apparently they never called him these nicknames to his face. During his life-long career in crime he is believed to have personally killed around forty people and to have ordered the deaths of several hundreds more.

During the 1980s and early 1990s, Riina and his Mafia faction, the Corleonesi, waged a ruthless campaign of violence against both rival mobsters and the state which culminated in the assassination of the anti-Mafia prosecutors Giovanni Falcone and Paolo Borsellino. This caused widespread public revulsion against the Mafia and led to a major crackdown by the authorities, resulting in the capture and imprisonment of Riina and many of his associates.



[edit] Biography

[edit] Rise to power

Riina was raised in Corleone[1] and joined the local Mafia clan at the age of nineteen by committing a murder on their behalf. The following year he killed a man during an argument and served six years in prison for manslaughter.

Salvatore Riina's ID Card from 1955. His height is listed as 1.58 m (5-ft-2), hence his nickname The Short One

The head of the Mafia Family in Corleone was Michele Navarra until 1958, when he was shot to death on the orders of Luciano Leggio, a ruthless 33-year-old mafioso, who subsequently became the new boss. Together with Totò Riina and Bernardo Provenzano (who were two of the gunmen in Navarra's slaying), Leggio began to increase the power of the Corleonesi. Because they hailed from a relatively small town, the Corleonesi were not a major factor in the Sicilian Mafia in the 1950s, compared to the major Families based in the capital, Palermo. In a gross underestimation of the mobsters from Corleone, the Palermo bosses often referred to the Corleonesi as i viddani - "the peasants".

In the early 1960s, Leggio, Riina and Provenzano, who had spent the last few years hunting down and killing dozens of Navarra's surviving supporters, were forced to go into hiding due to arrest warrants. Riina and Leggio were arrested and tried in 1969 for murders carried out earlier that decade. They were acquitted due to intimidation of the jurors and witnesses. Riina went into hiding later that year after he was indicted on a further murder charge and was to remain a fugitive for the next twenty-three years.

In 1974 Luciano Leggio was arrested and imprisoned for the murder of Michele Navarra sixteen years earlier. Although Leggio retained some influence from behind bars, Riina was now the effective head of the Corleonesi. He also had close relations with the 'Ndrangheta, the mafia-type association in Calabria. His "compare d’anello" (a kind of best man and trusted friend) at his wedding in 1974 was Domenico Tripodo, a powerful boss and prolific cigarette smuggler.[2]

During the 1970s Sicily became an important location in the international heroin trade, especially with regards to the refining and exporting of the narcotic. The profits to be had from heroin were vast and exceeded those of the traditional activities of extortion and loan-sharking. Totò Riina wanted to take control of the trade and was to do so by planning a war against the rival Mafia Families.

During the late 1970s, Riina orchestrated the murders of a number of high-profile public officials, such as judges, prosecutors and members of the Carabinieri. As well as intimidating the state, these assassinations also helped to frame the Corleonesi's rivals. The Godfathers of many Mafia Families were often highly visible in their communities, rubbing shoulders with politicians and mayors, protecting themselves with bribes rather than violence. In contrast, Riina, Provenzano and other Corleonesi were fugitives, always in hiding and rarely seen by other mobsters, let alone the public. Consequently, when a policeman or judge was killed it was the more visible Mafia Families who were the subject of official investigations, especially as these assassinations were deliberately carried out in the territory (or 'turf') of the Corleonesi's rivals rather than anywhere near the town of Corleone itself.

[edit] The Mafia War of 1981 to 1983

Main article: Second Mafia War

The Corleonesi's primary rivals were Stefano Bontade, Salvatore Inzerillo and Gaetano Badalamenti, bosses of various powerful Palermo Mafia Families. Between 1981 and 1983, Bontade and Inzerillo, together with many associates and members of both their Mafia and blood families, were killed. There were up to a thousand killings during this time period as Riina and the Corleonesi, together with their allies, wiped out their rivals.

By 1983, the Corleonesi were effectively ruling the Mafia, and over the next few years Riina increased his influence by eliminating the Corleonesi's allies, such as Filippo Marchese, Giuseppe Greco and Rosario Riccobono.

Riina also ordered the murders of judges, policemen and prosecutors in an attempt to terrify the authorities. One of the most high-profile slayings was of General Carlo Alberto Dalla Chiesa.

While that helped them become the most powerful clan in Sicily, the Corleonesi's tactics backfired to some degree when, in 1983, a convicted double-killer named Tommaso Buscetta became the first Sicilian Mafioso to become an informant, or pentito, and cooperate with the authorities. Buscetta was from a losing family in the Mafia war and had lost several relatives and many friends to Riina's hitmen; becoming an informant was the only way both to save himself and get his revenge on Riina. Buscetta provided a great deal of information to Judge Giovanni Falcone and he testified at the Maxi Trial in the mid 1980s that saw hundreds of Mafiosi imprisoned. Riina picked up another life sentence for murder at the Maxi Trial, but it was another in absentia sentence as he was still a fugitive.

In 1989 Riina arranged the murders of a number of his allies, including Ciaculli boss Vincenzo Puccio and Puccio's two brothers. Apparently Vincenzo Puccio had been planning to overthrow Riina as head of the Sicilian Mafia but the Corleonesi boss had found out about the plot.

[edit] The “kiss of honour”

According to Riina’s former driver and pentito, Baldassare Di Maggio, Totò Riina allegedly greeted the former Prime Minister Giulio Andreotti with a “kiss of honour” at a meeting to discuss the outcomes of the Maxi Trial against Cosa Nostra.[3] Di Maggio said in testimony to Palermo prosecutors: "I am absolutely certain that I recognized Giulio Andreotti because I saw him many times on television. I interpreted the kiss that Andreotti and Salvatore Riina exchanged as a sign of respect."[4][5]

According to Di Maggio, the incident happened in September 1987 at the Palermo home of Ignazio Salvo, a high-ranking associate of Andreotti who was accused by informers of being one of the politician's main contacts with Cosa Nostra. "When we walked in, the people present were the Hon. Giulio Andreotti and the Hon. Salvo Lima," Di Maggio said. "They stood up and I shook their hand and kissed Ignazio Salvo. Riina, however, greeted with a kiss all three people."[4]

Andreotti dismissed the charges against him as “lies and slander … the kiss of Riina, mafia summits … scenes out of a comic horror film.”[3] Veteran journalist Indro Montanelli doubted the claim, saying Andreotti "doesn't even kiss his own children."[6] Di Maggio's credibility had been shaken in the closing weeks of the Andreotti trial when he admitted killing a man while under state protection.[7] Appeal court judges rejected Di Maggio’s testimony about the kiss of respect.[8][9]

[edit] Crackdown

The aftermath of the bomb attack that killed Giovanni Falcone, his wife and three bodyguards

Giovanni Falcone and his colleague Paolo Borsellino were making progress in their war against the Mafia, which meant they were under the constant threat of death. They also felt that they were being hampered by colleagues and superiors, some of whom were in the pay of the Mafia.

On May 23, 1992, Falcone, his wife and three bodyguards were killed by a bomb planted under the highway outside of Palermo. A few weeks later Borsellino and five of his bodyguards were killed by a car bomb. Both attacks were ordered by Riina and carried out by his many assassins. The public were outraged, both at the Mafia and also the politicians who they felt had failed to adequately protect Falcone and Borsellino. The Italian government arranged for a massive crackdown of the Mafia in response.

On January 15, 1993, acting on a tip-off from an informant, armed police from the Carabinieri arrested Totò Riina in Palermo[10] as he sat in his car at a traffic-light (his former driver, Balduccio Di Maggio, was the informant in question; several of his relatives were later murdered for this [11]). Riina claimed to be just a poor harassed accountant, and in his ill-fitting suit, the chubby, softly-spoken 62 year old looked to be just that. Asked about the firm he worked at, he answered that he would not mention it in order not to damage their reputation. Hauled into custody, Riina was polite and respectful towards his captors, and later thanked the police officers and court officials for treating him well, although he managed to insult their intelligence by not only saying that he had never heard of the Mafia but also by insisting that he had "no idea" he had been Sicily's most wanted fugitive for the last three decades. Other accounts also say that Riina kept on shouting "communists!" to the policemen arresting him and to the court processing him.

The public's delight at Riina's arrest (one newspaper had the sensationalistic headline "The Devil" pasted over Riina's mugshot) was dampened somewhat when it was revealed that, during his thirty years as a fugitive, Riina had actually been living at home in Palermo all along. He had obtained medical attention for his diabetes and registered all four of his children under their real names at the local hospital. He even went to Venice on honeymoon and was still unspotted. Many cynically declared that the authorities only arrested Riina because they were under public pressure to do so after the Falcone/Borsellino murders, and saw the ease with which Riina had evaded justice for so long as an example of what many regarded as the apathetic - if not actually complicit - attitudes of the Sicilian authorities to the Mafia.

[edit] Controversy about Riina's arrest

Mafia boss Totò Riina behind bars in court after his arrest in 1993

Giovanni Brusca – one of Riina's hitmen who personally detonated the bomb that killed Falcone, and later became an informant after his 1996 arrest – has offered a controversial version of the capture of Totò Riina: a secret deal between Carabinieri officers, secret agents and Cosa Nostra bosses tired of the dictatorship of the Corleonesi. According to Brusca, Bernardo Provenzano "sold" Riina in exchange for the valuable archive of compromising material that Riina held in his apartment in Via Bernini 52 in Palermo.[12][13]

The Carabinieri’s ROS (Reparto Operativo Speciale) persuaded the Palermo Public Prosecutor's Office not to immediately search the Riina’s apartment, and then abandoned surveillance of the apartment after six hours leaving it unprotected. The apartment was only raided 18 days later but it had been completely emptied. According to the Carabinieri commanders the house was abandoned because they didn't consider it to be important and they actually never told the prosecutor to be willing to maintain the surveillance during the following days.[14]

This version of Riina’s arrest has been denied by Carabinieri commander, general Mario Mori (at the time deputy head of the ROS). Mori, however, confirmed that channels of communication were opened with Cosa Nostra through Vito Ciancimino – a former mayor of Palermo convicted for Mafia association – who was close to the Corleonesi. To sound out the willingness of Mafiosi to talk, Ciancimino contacted Riina’s private doctor, Antonino Cinà. When Ciancimino was informed that the goal was to arrest Riina, he seemed unwilling to continue. At this point, the arrest and cooperation of Balduccio Di Maggio led to the arrest of Riina. In 2006, the Palermo Court absolved Mario Mori and Captain "Ultimo" (Sergio De Caprio) – the man who arrested Riina – of the charge of consciously aiding and abetting the Mafia.

However, in November 2009, Massimo Ciancimino – the son of Vito Ciancimino – said that Provenzano betrayed the whereabouts of Riina. Police sent Vito Ciancimino maps of Palermo. One of the maps was delivered to Provenzano, then a mafia fugitive. Ciancimino said the map was returned by Provenzano who indicated the precise location of Riina's hiding place.[15][16]

[edit] In jail

Although he already had two unserved life-sentences, Riina was nonetheless tried and convicted of over a hundred counts of murder, including sanctioning the slayings of Falcone and Borsellino. In October 1993, nine-months after his capture, Riina was convicted of ordering the murders of Vincenzo Puccio and his brother Pietro.[17]

In 1998, Riina picked up yet another life sentence for the high-profile murder of Salvo Lima, a politician who had long since been suspected of being in league with the Mafia and who had been shot dead in 1992 after he had failed to prevent the convictions of Mafiosi in the Maxi Trial of the mid 1980s.[18]

Riina is currently held in a maximum-security prison with limited contact with the outside world in order to prevent him from running his organization from behind bars, as many others have done. Over $125,000,000 in assets were confiscated from Riina - probably just a fraction of his illicit fortune - and his vast mansion was also acquired by the crusading anti-Mafia mayor of Corleone in 1997. In a move that was both practical and symbolic, this mansion was turned into a school for the local children.

In 2004 it was reported that Riina had suffered two heart attacks in May and December the previous year. In April 2006, a full thirteen years after his arrest, he was on trial for the murder of a journalist, Mauro De Mauro, who vanished without trace in September 1970. One of Riina's close friends in the Corleonesi Clan, Bernardo Provenzano, was believed to have taken over as head of the organization. Provenzano was arrested on April 11, 2006, in the countryside near Corleone after forty-three years in hiding.

[edit] Family

Giovanni Riina

Giuseppe Salvatore Riina

Salvatore Riina married his wife Ninetta (sister of Leoluca Bagarella) in 1974, and they had four children. His two sons, Giovanni and Giuseppe, followed in their father's footsteps and have since joined him behind bars. In November 2001, 24-year-old Giovanni Riina was convicted of committing four murders in 1995.[19] On December 31, 2004, Riina's youngest son, Giuseppe Riina, was sentenced to fourteen years for various crimes, including Mafia association, extortion and money laundering.[20] One of his daughters, however, was elected class representative in her high school, where she was able to return, aged 21, when the family came out of hiding after her father's arrest. In 2006, the council of Corleone created T-shirts reading I love Corleone in an attempt to dissociate the town from its infamous Mafiosi, but an in-law of Riina - the brother of Riina's daughter's husband - began an attempt to sue the Corleone mayor by claiming the Riina family owned the copyright to the phrase.[21]

His eldest son Giovanni Riina, has been sentenced to life in prison for four murders by a court in Palermo. He had been in police custody since 1997.[22] According to Antonio Ingroia, one of the prosecutors of the Direzione Distrettuale Antimafia (DDA) of Palermo, Giovanni Riina is among the possible leading figures in the Sicilian Cosa Nostra after the arrest of Provenzano in 2006 and Salvatore Lo Piccolo in 2007, but still too young to be recognized as leading boss of the organisation.[23] His second son, Giuseppe Salvatore Riina was among those taken into custody in June 2002. He was charged with establishing Mafia-controlled companies to launder money from protection rackets, drug-trafficking and tenders for public building contracts on the island.[22]

[edit] Personality

Due to his habits of secrecy and evasiveness, Riina's personality remains enigmatic. An informant, Antonino Calderone, described Riina as being "unbelievably ignorant, but he had an intuition and intelligence and was difficult to fathom ... very hard to predict". He said Riina was soft spoken and a dedicated father and husband. Riina was highly persuasive and often highly sentimental. He followed the simple codes of the brutal, ancient world of the Sicilian countryside, where force is the only law and there is no contradiction between personal kindness and extreme ferocity. "His philosophy was that if someone’s finger hurt, it was better to cut off his whole arm just to make sure," Calderone said.[24]

One of the more bizarre anecdotes Calderone related was that of Riina giving a tearful eulogy at the funeral of Calderone's murdered brother, even though Riina himself had ordered the killing. Calderone also said that, when Riina set his sights on marrying his sweetheart, Ninetta, the young lady's family objected to the union. Calderone quoted Riina as saying "I don't want any woman other than my Ninetta, and if they [her family] don't let me marry her, I'll have to kill some people." Ninetta's family soon dropped any opposition to Riina's matrimonial plans.

Giovanni Brusca claimed that, during 1991 and early 1992, Riina contemplated acts of terrorism against the state to get it to back off in its crackdown against the Mafia, including acts such as bombing the Leaning Tower of Pisa. In fact, during the months after Riina's arrest, there was a series of bombings by the Corleonesi against several tourist spots on the Italian mainland, resulting in the deaths of ten people, including an entire family. Brusca also quoted Riina as declaring that the children of informants were legitimate targets. Brusca subsequently tortured and killed the 11-year-old son of an informant in a failed attempt to silence the boy's father, who had been giving testimony against Riina.

Although Riina's criminal actions were geared towards the acquisition of wealth and power, his treachery and the sheer number of murders he either committed or sanctioned seem excessive even by the standards of other gangsters. This may suggest that he was a psychopath, but his clandestine nature even after capture, and refusal to say much more than protestations of innocence, mean any profound theories about his psychological state are only second-hand speculation.

[edit] In popular culture

He was played by Victor Cavallo in the HBO movie Excellent Cadavers which was based on the events in the book of the same name by Alexander Stille.[25]

In 2007, Italian television broadcast Il Capo dei Capi (The Boss of Bosses), a six-part miniseries based on Riina's life and crimes [26] He was played by Claudio Gioè.

In 2009 it was reported that Riina and several fellow Mafiosi had fan clubs set up on their behalf on the social networking site Facebook, including one that called for Riina's release, claiming he was "a misunderstood man". Rita Borsellino, sister of Paolo Borsellino, was one of a number of high-profile Italians who condemned the idolization of Mafiosi.[27]

[edit] Notes

  1. ^ The town chosen by Mario Puzo for the birthplace of his fictional mafia don Vito Corleone. Coincidentally, one set of Al Pacino's grandparents also hailed from Corleone. Source: Francis Ford Coppola's commentary for The Godfather.
  2. ^ (Italian) E ora la ’ndrangheta supera cosa nostra: Intervista a Enzo Ciconte, Polizia e democrazia, November-December 2007
  3. ^ a b Stille, Excellent Cadavers, p. 392
  4. ^ a b Andreotti and Mafia: A Kiss Related, The New York Times, April 21, 1993
  5. ^ (Italian) Le dichiarazioni di Baldassare Di Maggio, in Sentenza Andreotti
  6. ^ Heat on the Mob, Time Magazine, June 3, 1996
  7. ^ (Italian) La confessione di Balduccio: "Ho ucciso anche da pentito", La Repubblica, October 4, 1999
  8. ^ Andreotti escapes conviction, BBC News, July 25, 2003
  9. ^ 'Kiss of honour' between Andreotti and Mafia head never happened, say judges, The Independent, July 26, 2003
  10. ^ Italy Arrests Sicilian Mafia's Top Leader, The New York Times, January 16, 1993
  11. ^ Brother of top Mafia turncoat shot, BBC News, March 21, 1998
  12. ^ Schneider & Schneider, Reversible Destiny, p. 156
  13. ^ Lodato, Ho ucciso Giovanni Falcone, p. 135-37
  14. ^ Jamieson, Alison (1999). The Antimafia: Italy's Fight Against Organized Crime. Houndmills, Basingstoke: Macmillan. ISBN 0-333-71900-X. 
  15. ^ Boss Riina 'betrayed' by Provenzano, ANSA, November 5, 2009
  16. ^ Italy: Top Mafia fugitive 'betrayed' by boss, Adnkronos International, November 5, 2009
  17. ^ Mafia Kingpin Jailed for Life, The Independent, October 9, 1993
  18. ^ Italian Mafia bosses get life sentences, BBC News, July 15, 1998
  19. ^ Life in jail for son of mafia boss, CNN, November 23, 2001
  20. ^ Mafia boss's son jailed, News24.com, December 31, 2004
  21. ^ Mafia family sues over Godfather town T-shirt, The Times (UK), September 14, 2006
  22. ^ a b Mafia suspects held in 'Godfather' town, BBC News, June 5, 2002
  23. ^ (Italian) Lo Piccolo, il fautore della strategia della “rimmersione”, Intervista ad Antonio Ingroia, Antimafia Duemila n. 56, Anno VII° Numero 5 – 2007
  24. ^ Stille, Excellent Cadavers, p. 230-31.
  25. ^ Excellent Cadavers at the Internet Movie Database
  26. ^ Riina watches life story from jail cell, Variety, November 5, 2007
  27. ^ Fans of Mafia supremos get comeuppance on Facebook, AFP, January 10, 2009

[edit] References

  • Dickie, John (2004). Cosa Nostra: A History of the Sicilian Mafia. London: Hodder & Stoughton. ISBN 0-340-82434-4. 
  • Jamieson, Alison (1999). The Antimafia: Italy's Fight Against Organized Crime. Houndmills, Basingstoke: Macmillan. ISBN 0-333-71900-X. 
  • (Italian) Lodato, Saverio (1999). Ho ucciso Giovanni Falcone: la confessione di Giovanni Brusca, Milan: Mondadori ISBN 88-04-45048-7
  • Schneider, Jane T. & Peter T. Schneider (2003). Reversible Destiny: Mafia, Antimafia, and the Struggle for Palermo, Berkeley: University of California Press ISBN 0-520-23609-2
  • Stille, Alexander (1995). Excellent Cadavers: The Mafia and the Death of the First Italian Republic. London: Jonathan Cape. ISBN 0-224-03761-7. 

[edit] External links

Retrieved from "http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Salvatore_Riina"









































Filippo Marchese

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Filippo Marchese


Filippo Marchese (undated photograph)




Late 1982


Multiple murder


Life imprisonment (sentence in absentia and post mortem)


Deceased (Homicide)



Filippo Marchese (died 1982) was a leading figure in the Sicilian Mafia and a hitman suspected of dozens of homicides. He was the boss of the Mafia family in the Corso Dei Mille neighbourhood in Palermo.[1]

Marchese ran what became known as the Room of Death, a small apartment along the Piazza Sant Erasmo. Victims who stood in the way of the Corleonesi, the Mafia clan from the town of Corleone, were lured there to be murdered, usually by being garrotted. Their bodies were either dissolved in acid or chopped up and dumped out at sea. As many as 100 people – mafiosi who stood in the way of the Corleonesi bosses, Salvatore Riina and Bernardo Provenzano, and their associates – were killed there during the Second Mafia War.

Like most mafiosi, Filippo Marchese was very elusive, and the primary source of information about his career in crime comes from Vincenzo Sinagra, an informant. Sinagra was not actually a member of the Mafia but just a common criminal who, in 1981, made the mistake of robbing from a mafioso. He was given three choices; leave Sicily, die, or become a gofer for the Corleonesi. He opted for the third option and ended up working with Marchese in the Room of Death.

Sinagra was arrested on August 11, 1982 when he was caught red-handed carrying out a contract killing, and after a year in custody he decided to become an informant and cooperated with the anti-Mafia judge Paolo Borsellino. He testified at the Maxi Trial of 1986-87, along with Tommaso Buscetta. Sinagra claimed at the Maxi Trial that it was invariably his job to hold the feet of those who died in the Room of Death while Marchese strangled them with a length of rope. Sinagra he even claimed that Marchese masturbated whilst snorting cocaine and watching victims being tortured. By the time of the Maxi Trial, however, Filippo Marchese was dead.

Marchese had been a valuable asset to the Corleonesi during the Second Mafia War in 1981-83. Afterwards his violent nature was of no further use, and potentially marked him out as a threat to the leadership of the Corleonesi bosses, Salvatore Riina and Bernardo Provenzano. Sometime around the end of 1982, Filippo Marchese was garrotted and dissolved in acid like so many of his own victims. He was so elusive that the authorities did not learn of his death until the late 1980s through an informant.

The man who killed Marchese was Pino Greco. Greco himself was killed in 1985 by two of his own men on Toto Riina's orders, his underboss Vincenzo Puccio and a lieutenant, Giuseppe Lucchese, who later became boss of the Brancaccio-Ciaculli mandamento after Puccio was killed.

Filippo Marchese's two nephews, Antonino and Giuseppe Marchese, subsequently murdered Vincenzo Puccio in 1989 on Riina's orders, but then Riina deliberately destroyed their alibi. Giuseppe Marchese became a pentito in September 1992 after he realized his godfather and mentor Riina had betrayed him.

Marchese’s niece, Vincenza Marchese, was married to Leoluca Bagarella of the Corleonesi clan and Totò Riina's brother-in-law. Bagarella was rumoured to have killed his wife Vincenza sometime after her brother Giuseppe Marchese co-operated with the government and became a pentito (informant). When Bagarella was arrested on June 24, 1995 – after four years on the run with his wife –there was no sign of Vincenza, just a bunch of flowers in front of her picture on the mantelpiece – a sign of mourning. However, other sources said that Vincenza had committed suicide after her brother began collaborating with authorities. Another version was that she was clinically depressed, after a series of miscarriages. She had left a letter declaring her shame and asking her husband for forgiveness.[2]

[edit] References

  1. ^ (Italian) Sentenza nei confronti di Dell’Utri Marcello e Cinà Gaetano December 11, 2004
  2. ^ Longrigg, Mafia Women, p. 122

Retrieved from "http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Filippo_Marchese"

























Giuseppe Greco

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Giuseppe Greco


Giuseppe "Scarpuzzedda" Greco (undated photograph)


4 January 1952 (2009-01-04T19:52)
Ciaculli, Palermo, Sicily


September 1985 (1985-10)
Ciaculli, Palermo, Sicily


58 counts of murder


Life imprisonment (sentence in absentia and post mortem)


Deceased (Homicide)



Giuseppe "Pino" Greco (January 4, 1952 - September 1985) was a hitman and high-ranking member of the Sicilian Mafia. A number of sources refer to him exclusively as Pino Greco although Giuseppe was his Christian name; "Pino" is a frequent abbreviation of the name Giuseppe.

One of the most prolific killers in criminal history, he came from the Greco Mafia clan, a prominent group from Ciaculli (he was a distant relative of Salvatore "Ciaschiteddu" Greco.) His father was also a Mafioso nicknamed Scarpa, Sicilian for "Shoe", hence Giuseppe's nickname of Scarpuzzedda; "Little Shoe".



[edit] Early life

He was born in 1952 in Ciaculli, an outlying town in the province of Palermo, capital of Sicily. At school he reportedly excelled in Latin and Greek [1]. It is not known precisely when he joined the Mafia but by 1979 he sat on the Sicilian Mafia Commission, which was ruled by his uncle, Michele Greco, the boss of Ciaculli.

The Ciaculli cosca were closely allied with the Corleonesi, and specifically with their bosses, Salvatore Riina and Bernardo Provenzano, who would come to dominate the Sicilian Mafia in a violent Mafia war.

[edit] Criminal career

During the Second Mafia War from 1981 until 1983, orchestrated by the Corleonesi, Giuseppe Greco carried out dozens of murders, often with his favourite weapon, an AK-47. He was eventually convicted in absentia of fifty-eight murders, most of them committed during the early 1980s, but it is believed he committed at least eighty murders in total [2] and possibly as many as three-hundred.

Amongst those he gunned down are Stefano Bontade, Salvatore Inzerillo, Pio La Torre and Carabinieri General Carlo Alberto Dalla Chiesa. He even murdered Inzerillo's fifteen-year-old son after the youth vowed to avenge his dead father. Greco is rumoured to have chopped the boy's arm off before killing him and dissolving his corpse in acid.

The bullet ridden body of Salvatore Totuccio Inzerillo, slain by Greco and his "death squad"

In July 1981 he failed in his attempt to ambush and kill future pentito Salvatore Contorno, and Contorno managed to shoot his would-be assassin in the chest, a bullet proof vest saving Greco's life.

He rarely worked alone, instead leading a "death squad" that included Mario Prestifilippo, Filippo Marchese, Vincenzo Puccio, Gianbattista Pullarà, Giuseppe Lucchese, Giuseppe Giacomo Gambino and Nino Madonia.

 Like Greco, they were all fugitives with numerous warrants issued for their arrest.

Greco worked particularly closely with Filippo Marchese, the boss of the Corso de Mille neighbourhood in Palermo and another close ally of the Corleonesi. Marchese ran the so-called "Room of Death", a squalid Palermo shack in some wasteland where victims were tortured and murdered before being thrown into vats of acid or dismembered then dumped out in the Mediterranean. According to pentito Vincenzo Sinagra, Greco helped Marchese carry out many killings there, he and Marchese garotting victims together, looping a length of rope round the victim's neck and each of them pulling on one end. Sinagra said it was usually his duty to hold the victim's kicking feet.

He personally strangled to death Rosario Riccobono, a Palermo boss, in November 1982. Riccobono had been an ally of the Corleonesi, but when he had outlived his usefulness, Riina decided to have him eliminated. He invited Riccobono and eight of his men to a barbecue at Michele Greco's estate, at the end of which the nine guests were massacred by Giuseppe Greco and his team of killers. None of the bodies were ever found and were reportedly fed to pigs.[3]

In late 1982, Greco murdered Marchese on the orders of Riina. The Mafia War was dying down and Riina had decided Marchese was no longer of any use.

By then, Greco was believed to be the underboss of the Ciaculli family. Rather than delegate murders to his underlings, however, he continued to personally take part in them himself. On July 29, 1983 he planted and detonated the car bomb that killed magistrate Rocco Chinnici and three other people.

[edit] Later years

By the end of the Second Mafia War he was one of the most prominent of the new generation of Mafiosi who had distinguished themselves in the Second Mafia War, and reportedly acted like he was the boss of Ciaculli, whilst the actual boss, his uncle Michele Greco, was in hiding. He had also built up a following of younger Mafiosi who looked up to him, even more so than they did to the Corleonesi bosses. [4] Riina apparently felt the need to reduce the strength of the Ciaculli Family by eliminating its most prominent killers, starting with Scarpuzzedda.

In order to weaken Greco’s position, Riina ordered the massacre of Piazza Scaffa, when eight people were killed in the Ciaculli mandamento. The victims were gunned down with shotguns in a barn. Greco was not informed as part of a deliberate strategy to show his lack of effective power over the territory under his jurisdiction.[5]

One of his last crimes was leading a large hit-squad that ambushed and shot to death police investigator Antonino Cassarà on August 6, 1985. One of Cassarà's bodyguards also died and another was badly injured. Three years earlier, Cassarà had issued a report leading to the arrest of 163 prominent Mafiosi, including Giuseppe Greco, the members of his death squad, and Michele Greco.

[edit] Death

Sometime in September 1985, a month after Cassarà's assassination, Greco was murdered in his home. He was shot to death by his two fellow Mafiosi and supposed friends, Vincenzo Puccio and Giuseppe Lucchese, although the orders came from Riina, who had felt Greco was getting too ambitious and too independently minded for his liking.[6] Puccio was captured the following year for an unrelated murder and was himself murdered in his cell in 1989. Lucchese was captured in 1990 and imprisoned for other unrelated murders. Greco's elimination was the first of several by the Corleonesi in order to weaken the Ciaculli clan. Two years later one of Greco's accomplices and fellow Ciaculli killer Mario Prestifilippo was shot to death, reportedly also on Riina's orders.

Giuseppe Greco picked up an in absentia life sentence at the Maxi Trial of 1986-1987 after being found guilty of fifty-eight counts of murder,[7] even though he was dead by then. As a strategy to delay and weaken the reactions of Greco’s followers, Riina ordered the body to be dissolved in acid whilst in the meantime he told other Mafiosi that Greco was in hiding in the USA. Rumours of Greco's death surfaced in 1988 and these were only confirmed to the authorities by an informant, Francesco Marino Mannoia, the following year.

Francesco's brother, Agostino Marino Mannoia, was present at Greco's murder although only as a witness; he told his brother Francesco that he did not know the killing was due to take place. Agostino said that he was downstairs in Greco's house with another Mafioso whilst their host was upstairs talking with Puccio and Lucchese. After hearing shots, Agostino ran upstairs to see Greco lying dead and Puccio and Lucchese standing over him, the latter holding a smoking gun and subsequently explaining that he and Puccio had taken care of a problem on behalf of Riina.[8] Agostino explained all this to his brother Francesco, and it was Agostino's murder in early 1989 that prompted Francesco to become an informant.

Another informant who been one of Greco's friends, Salvatore Cancemi, subsequently told investigators that shortly after Greco's death Riina had approached him and explained to Cancemi that

You know we've found the medicine for madmen?...We've killed "Little Shoe"; he'd become crazy[9].

[edit] References and External links

  1. ^ Fillain, The last Godfathers, p. 124.
  2. ^ Stille, Excellent Cadavers, p.305
  3. ^ Obituary of Michele Greco, The Daily Telegraph, February 15, 2008
  4. ^ Fillain, The last Godfathers, p. 169.
  5. ^ Paoli, Mafia Brotherhoods, p. 239.
  6. ^ Dicke, Cosa Nostra, p. 375
  7. ^ Mafia Killer Reported Slain, Reuters, May 25, 1988
  8. ^ Stille, Excellent Cadavers, p.306
  9. ^ Fillain, The Last Godfathers, p. 169.
  • Paoli, Letizia (2003) Mafia Brotherhoods: Organized Crime, Italian Style, New York: Oxford University Press ISBN 0-19-515724-9
  • Follain, John (2008) The Last Godfathers: The Rise and Fall of the Mafia's Most Powerful Family, Hodder & Stoughton ISBN 978-0-340-93651-1
  • Dicke, John (2004) Cosa Nostra: A History of the Sicilian Mafia, Hodder and Stoughton ISBN 0-340-82435-2
  • Stille, Alexander (1995) Excellent Cadavers. The Mafia and the Death of the First Italian Republic, New York: Vintage ISBN 0-09-959491-9

Retrieved from "http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Giuseppe_Greco"













































Francesco Madonia

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Francesco Ciccio Madonia, the unquestioned patriarch of the Resuttana Mafia family

Francesco Ciccio Madonia (Palermo, March 31, 1924 – Napels, March 13, 2007) was the Mafia boss of the San Lorenzo-Pallavicino area in Palermo. In 1978 he became a member of the Sicilian Mafia Commission.

Ciccio Madonia became the unquestioned patriarch of the Resuttana Mafia family and mandamento. He replaced Antonino Matranga, murdered in 1970, and strongly supported the Corleonesi during the Second Mafia War in 1981-83. In 1987, at the Maxi Trial, he was sentenced to life for murder, but he went on running the Family from prison; first through his sons Antonino, Giuseppe and Salvatore Salvino Madonia, all three jailed, after that through his brother Diego, the reputed acting boss.



[edit] Life sentences

Ciccio Madonia had several life sentences and was involved in several of the most bloody events in the 1980s, such as the murder of Piersanti Mattarella, the Christian Democrat president of the autonomous region of Sicily in 1980; general Carlo Alberto Dalla Chiesa, the prefect of Palermo in 1982; police chief Ninni Cassarà in 1986; and Libero Grassi, the Palermitan businessman who was killed by the Mafia after refusing to pay extortion money, known as "pizzo". Francesco Madonia was involved in the failed bomb attack against Antimafia judge Giovanni Falcone at Addaura in 1989 (which is in the Resuttana mandamento) and the killings of Falcone and his colleague Paolo Borsellino in 1992.[1]

He was arrested in 1987 together with his son Giuseppe Madonia. However, despite his life sentence at the Maxi Trial, the most important Mafia bosses of the Commission spent months at a time not at Ucciardone prison, but in hotel-like conditions of Palermo’s Ospedale Civico (Civic Hospital). The director of the hospital was Giuseppe Lima, the brother of Salvo Lima, member of parliament suspected of mafia ties.[2]

[edit] Extortion

In 1989, the police discovered the hideout of Francesco’s son Nino Madoniathat contained an account book of the family’s extortion business which listed some 150 businessmen.[3] The ledger included the names of car dealers, drugstores, restaurants, and small factories that were lined up next to the amounts of their pizzo – from about US$150 to US$7,000 a month. None of the more than 150 businessmen on the list would help identify the extortionists.[4][5]

Francesco Madonia has been convicted for ordering the killing of Libero Grassi in 1991, the Palermo businessman who refused to pay protection money (the so-called pizzo) and went on national television to denounce the practice. Grassi's business was in the area that is controlled by the Madonia clan. His son Salvatore Salvino Madonia was the killer.[1]

[edit] Death

He died on March 13, 2007, in a prison hospital in Naples where he was serving his life sentences under the severe conditions of the article 41-bis prison regime.[1]

In November 2008, Italian police arrested five people, including Maria Angela Di Trapani, the wife of jailed Sicilian Mafia boss Antonino Madonia, and seized assets worth 15 million euros, anti-Mafia investigators believe belong to the Madonias. The assets include farmland and farm buildings, villas, apartments and businesses in Sicily.[6]

Madonia's jailed sons, Antonino, Giuseppe and Salvatore are all in high-security detention under the harsh 41-bis prison regime for Mafia prisoners that is meant to severely restrict their contact with other prisoners and the outside world. Nevertheless, they have continued to run the Madonia clan, issuing orders via Di Trapani and exchanging information with the Di Trapani clan, according to investigators.[6]

[edit] References

  1. ^ a b c (Italian) Morto Madonia, boss di Resuttana, La Repubblica, March 14, 2007
  2. ^ Stille, Excellent Cadavers, p. 276
  3. ^ Stille, Excellent Cadavers, p. 346-47
  4. ^ A Bullet For a Businessman, Business Week, November 4, 1991
  5. ^ Paoli, Mafia Brotherhoods, p. 169
  6. ^ a b Police arrest five Mafia suspects in Sicily, AND Kronos, November 25, 2008

Retrieved from "http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Francesco_Madonia"



























Michele Greco

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Michele "The Pope" Greco



May 12, 1924(1924-05-12)
Ciaculli, Sicily


February 13, 2008 (aged 83)
Rome, Italy


78 counts of Murder


Life imprisonment


Mafioso, Landowner

Michele Greco (Ciaculli, May 12, 1924 – Rome, February 13, 2008) was a member of the Sicilian Mafia, previously incarcerated for multiple murders. His nickname was "il Papa"(The Pope) because of his ability to mediate between different Mafia families.[1] Greco was the head of the Sicilian Mafia Commission.



[edit] Biography

[edit] Rise to power

Michele Greco was part of the powerful Greco Mafia clan that ruled both in his native Ciaculli and in Croceverde Giardini, two suburbs close to Palermo. He took over the mandamento of Croceverde Giardini after his father Giuseppe Greco, "Piddu u tinenti", died. He was a cousin of Salvatore "Ciaschiteddu" Greco, the first "secretary" of the first Sicilian Mafia Commission that was formed somewhere in 1958. Greco had good relations with politicians, bankers and other notables who were invited to wine and dine and take part in hunting parties at his estate La Favarella.[2] The estate was also used as a refuge for mafiosi on the run, and to set up a heroin laboratory.

Greco, along with other Mafia families around Palermo, controlled a large portion of the water supply. He was financing the digging of his wells with government money. According to the law, landowners were only allowed to have wells for their own private use and all excess water belonged to the public. However, the city of Palermo issued regular contracts to buy water from Greco and other Mafia bosses for a full third of the water supply. During the summer, when water was particularly scarce and badly needed for irrigation, Greco sold water at exorbitant prices. The perpetual shortage of water was maintained by the Mafia and their friends in city hall.[3][4]

Another money making scheme was collecting subsidies from the European Community (EC) for destroying citrus crops he had never grown. The EC, in order to limit production, paid farmers to destroy part of their production. Greco paid EC inspectors to falsify the records.[4]

[edit] Puppet boss

Michele Greco was nominated the head of the Sicilian Mafia Commission (Cupola) in 1978, after Gaetano Badalamenti was expelled. Greco gave the Commission a façade of neutrality behind which the Corleonesi effectively hid their expansion.[5] In 1981, Mafia bosses Stefano Bontade and Salvatore Inzerillo were murdered within a few weeks of each other in the midst of the Second Mafia War. Through his position within the Cupola, Michele Greco assumed indirect control of Stefano Bontade's Mafia family after his murder. Not long after Greco invited a number of Bontade's allies for a meeting at his country estate. A couple members of the clan were suspicious and did not go, but at least eleven mafiosi went along and were wiped out, never to be seen again.

As it turned out, Michele Greco had been allied with Salvatore Riina and the Corleonesi all along. Riina had used Greco's position on the Commission to help banish Gaetano Badalamenti from the Mafia and then, after Riina ordered Bontade's murder, he had Greco oversee Bontade's Mafia clan who was in control of a heroin distribution network in the United States, along with the Inzerillo Mafia clan.

One of the men who did not turn up to the fateful meeting at Greco's estate was Salvatore Contorno. He sensed trouble and soon went into hiding when the Mafia War broke out. He narrowly escaped death during an ambush by a Corleonesi hitman, Michele's nephew Pino Greco. While in hiding from both the authorities and the Corleonesi, Contorno sent anonymous letters to the police, revealing to the authorities information on the Mafia, its members, the various factions and the violent turmoil it was undergoing. Contorno was eventually arrested in 1983 and became a fully fledged informant the following year, following Tommaso Buscetta's example.

Contorno's revelations in his letters to the police were the first time the authorities had really learned of Michele Greco's high-ranking membership of the Mafia. Previously he had just been regarded as a rather secretive landowner with a suspiciously high-income, although he did come from a long line of mafiosi.

Greco was a powerful mafia boss, descended from a long line of mafiosi, but in the latter part of his criminal career he could be best described as little more than Riina's "puppet boss". According to pentito Tommaso Buscetta, Michele Greco, "given his bland and weak personality, was the perfect person to become head of the Commission so as not to stand in the way of Riina designs."[6] Buscetta explained that during meetings between the heads of various Mafia families, Michele Greco would just nod his head and agree with virtually everything Riina said.

[edit] Manhunt and capture

Mafia boss Michele Greco during the Maxi Trial.

Based on Salvatore Contorno's anonymous revelations, police chief Antonino 'Ninni' Cassarà drew up a report in July 1982 listing 162 Mafiosi who warranted arrest, and the report was unofficially known as the 'Michele Greco + 161' report, signalling Greco's importance over the other suspects. On August 6, 1985, Ninni Cassarà and one of his bodyguards, Giovanni Lercara, were massacred by a team of up to fifteen gunmen outside Cassarà's home in front of his horrified wife. The 'Michele Greco + 161' report was just the start of an investigation that was to become the Maxi Trial, where most of the leadership of the Mafia were tried for numberless crimes.

On July 9, 1983, Greco was indicted by judge Giovanni Falcone, along with 14 others among which his brother Salvatore Greco, Totò Riina, Bernardo Provenzano and Nitto Santapaola for the murder on the prefect of Palermo, General Carlo Alberto Dalla Chiesa on September 3, 1982.[7]

After four-years on the run, Michele Greco was arrested on February 20, 1986, and he joined the hundreds of defendants at the Maxi Trial, which had started just ten-days previously.[8] Greco was charged with ordering seventy-eight murders, including those of the anti-Mafia magistrate Rocco Chinnici, Chinnici's two bodyguards and an innocent bystander, the four of whom had been killed by a car bomb in 1983.

Greco gave testimony at the trial where, like his co-defendants, he insisted he was completely innocent and knew nothing about any Mafia. To illustrate his standing as a supposedly honest citizen, he boasted of all the illustrious people he had entertained at his large estate, including a former chief prosecutor and police chiefs. He also admitted that Stefano Bontade had often hunted on his estate, and in something of an alarmingly off-hand statement, Greco said that he and Stefano "were together on the Holy Friday, just days before his misfortune."[2] The "misfortune" he referred to was Stefano being machine-gunned in the face.

At the end of the trial, on December 16, 1987, Michele Greco, then aged 63, was found guilty on all charges and sentenced to life imprisonment.

The Maxi Trial was largely undone by notoriously generous appeals, mostly thanks to Corrado Carnevale, who would release Mafiosi on the slightest of pretexts, much to the frustration of the Maxi Trial's architects, Giovanni Falcone and Paolo Borsellino. Greco was released on appeal on February 27, 1991,[9] but Giovanni Falcone, who had become head of the Penal Affairs section of the Italian ministry of Justice, issued a decree that ordered the re-incarceration of Greco and other mafiosi.

In the light of this, Michele Greco was quickly rearrested in February 1992 and put back behind bars to serve his freshly reinstated life-sentence. Greco never admitted his crimes nor his position in Cosa Nostra. In a letter sent to the press in the summer of 2007, he claimed he was "as innocent as a newborn child." He added that "because of an injustice in the 1980s I have been buried alive and have been in prison for 22 years. The dampness of my cell has destroyed my health and I am truly in a bad way."[10] He remained in prison in Rome until his death on February 13, 2008.[11][12]

[edit] References

  1. ^ (Italian) Ascesa, omicidi e sconfitte tutti i segreti del "Papa", La Repubblica, February 13, 2008
  2. ^ a b Stille, Excellent Cadavers, p. 187
  3. ^ Umberto Santino, L'acqua rubata. Dalla mafia alle multinazionali, Centro Siciliano di Documentazione "Giuseppe Impastato"
  4. ^ a b Stille, Excellent Cadavers, p. 62
  5. ^ Stille, Excellent Cadavers, p. 108
  6. ^ Stille, Excellent Cadavers, p. 108/201
  7. ^ Stille, Excellent Cadavers, p. 80
  8. ^ Article on Greco's arrest, Time Magazine, March 3, 1986
  9. ^ Sicilian Mafia Leader Freed on Technicality, Reuters, February 27, 1991.
  10. ^ Mafia boss Michele Greco dead at 83, ANSA, February 13, 2007
  11. ^ Italy: Mafia 'Pope' dies in Rome clinic, Adnkronos International, February 13, 2008
  12. ^ Imprisoned ex-top Mafia boss Michele Greco is dead at 84, International Herald Tribune, February 13, 2008

[edit] Sources

[edit] External links

Retrieved from "http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Michele_Greco"






Greco Mafia clan

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The Greco Mafia clan is a historic and one of the most influential Mafia clans in Sicily, going back to the late 19th century. The extended family ruled both in Ciaculli and Croceverde Giardini, two south-eastern outskirts of Palermo in the citrus growing area. Members of the family were important figures in the Sicilian Cosa Nostra. Salvatore Greco "Ciaschiteddu" was the first ‘secretary’ of the Sicilian Mafia Commission, while Michele Greco, also known as The Pope, was one of his successors.

According to the pentito Antonio Calderonethe Greco’s effectively exercised power in the whole of Sicily.” According to Giovanni Brusca the Greco family was very important and the ones who tipped the balance in every internal Mafia war.[1]



[edit] Early history

Mafia boss Giuseppe Greco, also known as "Piddu u tinenti" (Piddu the lieutenant)

Both family groups probably had a common ancestor in Salvatore Greco who was mentioned in the Sangiorgi report at the turn of the 20th century as the capomafia of Ciaculli.[2][3][4]

The Greco’s were typical representatives of the rural Mafia. In 1921, a Greco who had suffered a sgarro (a personal affront) killed two shepherds along with their flock of sheep. In 1929, a Greco fired twenty bullets into an enemy’s great casks of wine and then sat down amid the foaming splinters to smoke his pipe.[5]

The boss of the Croceverde Giardini, Giuseppe Greco, also known as "Piddu u tinenti" (Piddu the lieutenant), was gabelloto of I Giardini, an estate of about 300 hectares of citrus orchards, in particular the tangerines that make the area of Croceverde and Ciaculli famous.[6]

[edit] The Greco war: Interfamily feud

In 1939 a bloody vendetta between both clans started during a brawl about a question of honour among youngsters of the two clans. The son of Giuseppe Greco, also known as "Piddu u tinenti" (Piddu the lieutenant), the boss of Croceverde Giardini cosca was killed. In 1946-47, the bloody internal feud between the factions in Ciaculli and Croceverde Giardini reached a climax. On August 26, 1946, Giuseppe Greco, the boss of the Ciaculli clan and a brother-in-law of "Piddu u tinenti", and his brother Pietro Greco were killed with machine guns and grenades. The Ciaculli faction reacted a few months later when two of Piddu the lieutenant’s men where shot with a lupara, the typical Sicilian short-barrelled shotgun. In revenge the Giardini cosca kidnapped two members of the rival faction who were never seen again, a so-called lupara bianca.

The struggle between the clans came to a peak with a full-scale gunfight in the main square of Ciaculli on September 17, 1947. First, an important member of the Giardini cosca was shot down by a machine gun. When it became clear he was not dead yet, two women of the Ciaculli clan, Antonina (51) and Rosalia (19) the widow and daughter of one of the bosses killed the year before, went down into the street and finished the victim off with kitchen knives. In return, the brother and sister of the victim shot the women; Antonina was wounded and her daughter killed. Their attacker was then shot and killed by Antonina’s 18-year-old son.[4][6]

In total, eleven members of the two clans died and several others were wounded in the feud, before other Palermo Mafia bosses started to put pressure on Piddu the lieutenant to end the bloody feud, which drew too much attention. Moreover, Piddu was expected to take care for both factions of the feuding clans, after the killing of the bosses of the rival faction. His status depended on how he would manage the situation.

[edit] Mediation

Piddu the lieutenant asked for mediation from Antonio Cottone, the boss of the Mafia family of Villabate, a town close to Ciaculli and Croceverde. Cottone, who had been deported from the US, was an influential mafioso both in Palermo as in his native village Villabate, and still had good connections in the US, in particular with Joe Profaci, who came from the same village. At the time, Profaci was in Sicily and it seems he played an important role in the peace negotiations.[4][6][7]

The peace between the two rival factions of the Greco clan was settled by giving the rights of the Giardini estate to Salvatore Greco "Ciaschiteddu" (the son of Giuseppe Greco of Ciaculli) and his cousin Salvatore Greco, also known as "l'ingegnere" (The Engineer) or "Totò il lungo" (Totò the tall) (the son of Pietro Greco of Ciaculli). They became co-owners of a citrus fruit export business and partners in a bus company.

Historians are sceptical about the blood feud theory of the struggle. At stake was the control of the fruit business and control of the wholesale markets. Six of the victims in the war did not bear the Greco name. The blood feud legend was probably spread around to hide the real motives behind the struggle.[4][6]

[edit] Descendants of the Ciaculli faction

Giuseppe Greco and Pietro Greco, of the Ciaculli faction, both had a son that became important mafiosi:

  • Salvatore Greco "Ciaschiteddu" (the son of Giuseppe Greco and Santa Greco, the sister of Piddu the lieutenant)
  • Salvatore Greco, (the son of Pietro Greco), also known as "l'ingegnere" (the engineer) or "Totò il lungo" (Totò the tall).

[edit] Descendants of the Croceverde Giardini faction

Giuseppe Greco, also known as "Piddu u tinenti", the boss of Croceverde Giardini faction, had two sons that rose to prominence in Cosa Nostra:

[edit] Consolidation

Piddu the lieutenant withdrew from active life as a mafioso and settled in a modern house in Palermo, where he consolidated and expanded his friendships among the ‘accepted’ section of society, protecting his younger relations when they got into trouble with the law.[6][8] His influence in the higher circles of Palermo was considerable. Cardinal Ernesto Ruffini accepted an invitation of Piddu Greco to bless the new church of Croceverde-Giardini and a dinner afterwards.[9]

The Greco’s were protagonist in the violent conflict about the Palermo fruit and vegetable wholesale market that was moved from the Zisa area to Acquasanta near the port in January 1955, disturbing the delicate power balances within Cosa Nostra. The Acquasanta Mafia clan tried to muscle in on the protection racket that traditionally belonged the "Mafia of the Gardens" — such as the Greco’s and Cottone — because it now fell under their territory. The bosses of the Acquasanta Mafia clan, Gaetano Galatolo and Nicola D’Alessandro, as well as Francesco Greco from the Ciaculli clan, a major wholesaler of fruit and vegetables, were killed in a dispute over the protection rackets.[10][11]

Some villages just outside Palermo, like Bagheria and Villabate, flared up with the same kind of violence for the control of irrigation, transport, and wholesale markets. On August 22, 1956, Nino Cottone was killed as well. In the end the Acquasanta had to split the profits of the wholesale market racket with the Greco Mafia clan of Ciaculli, who traditionally controlled fruit and vegetable supply to Palermo wholesale market.[6][11][12]

[edit] On the Commission

Although descendants of the old, established rural Mafia, the cousins Salvatore Greco "Ciaschiteddu" and Salvatore Greco "The Engineer" quickly learned to profit from the post-war economic boom and became involved in cigarette smuggling and heroin trafficking. They both participated at the Grand Hotel des Palmes Mafia meeting in October 1957 between prominent American and Sicilian mafiosi. Heroin trafficking between these two might groups might have been discussed, but there certainly was not a general agreement on the heroin trade between the Sicilian Mafia and the American Cosa Nostra, as is often suggested.

At one of the meetings American Mafia boss Joe Bonanno suggested the Sicilians to form a Sicilian Mafia Commission to avoid violent disputes, following the example of the American Mafia that had formed their Commission in the 1930s. The Sicilians agreed and Tommaso Buscetta, Gaetano Badalamenti and Salvatore Greco "Ciaschiteddu" set the ground rules. Somewhere in 1958 the Sicilian Mafia composed its first Mafia Commission. "Ciaschiteddu" Greco was appointed as its first segretario (secretary), essentially a "primus inter pares" – the first among equals.[13] That position came to him almost naturally because he headed one of the most influential Mafia clans at the time. The Commission, however, was not able to prevent the outbreak of a violent Mafia War in 1962.

[edit] First Mafia War

The cousins Salvatore Greco "Ciaschiteddu" and Salvatore Greco "The Engineer" of the Ciaculli family were also protagonists in the First Mafia War between rival clans in Palermo in the early 1960s for the control of the profitable opportunities brought about by rapid urban growth and the illicit heroin trade to North America. The conflict was sparked by a quarrel over an underweight shipment of heroin and the murder of Calcedonio Di Pisa – an ally of the Greco's – in December 1962. The Greco’s suspected the brothers Salvatore and Angelo La Barbera of the attack.

On June 30, 1963 a car bomb exploded near Greco’s house in Ciaculli, killing seven police and military officers sent to defuse it after an anonymous phone call. The outrage over the Ciaculli Massacre changed the Mafia war into a war against the Mafia. It prompted the first concerted anti-mafia efforts by the state in post-war Italy. The Sicilian Mafia Commission was dissolved and of those mafiosi who had escaped arrest many went abroad. Even the old Piddu Greco was arrested in October 1965, and send into internal banishment from Sicily in May 1966.[9]

The repression caused by the Ciaculli Massacre disarranged the Sicilian heroin trade to the United States. Mafiosi were banned, arrested and incarcerated. Control over the trade fell into the hands of a few fugitives: the Greco cousins, Pietro Davì, Tommaso Buscetta and Gaetano Badalamenti.[14]

Salvatore "The Engineer" and "Ciaschiteddu" Greco were sentenced in absentia to respectively 10 and 4 years in prison at the Trial of the 114 in 1968 that was initiated as the result of the First Mafia War, but as they had been on the run since 1963, they did not serve a day. "Ciaschiteddu" Greco had moved to Venezuela, and the whereabouts of "The Engineer" were completely unknown. In 1973 they were both given the maximum period of five years of internal banishment at the remote island of Asinara, but they were nowhere to be found.[15]

[edit] Re-emergence

Michele Greco

In the 1970s the Mafia recuperated. This time it were the Greco’s from Croceverde who rose to prominence.

The brothers Michele Greco and Salvatore Greco operated low profile and were able to enter into relationships with businessmen, politicians, magistrates and law enforcement officials through their membership of

Masonic lodges.[16]

Salvatore Greco’s nick name was "The Senator" for his political connections. He was the kingmaker of Christian Democrat politicians such as Giovanni Gioia, Vito Ciancimino and Giuseppe Insalaco.[17]

Bankers and other notables were invited to wine and dine and take part in hunting parties at Michele Greco’s estate La Favarella. The estate was also used as a refuge for mafiosi on the run and to set up a heroin laboratory.

In 1974 the Sicilian Mafia Commission was restored under the leadership of Gaetano Badalamenti. Michele Greco was a member and in 1978 he was appointed as the head of the Sicilian Mafia Commission (Cupola), after its previous leader Gaetano Badalamenti was expelled in the run up to the Second Mafia War between the Corleonesi headed by Totò Riina, and the faction lead by Stefano Bontade and Salvatore Inzerillo. In January 1978, the ailing "Ciaschiteddu" Greco came all the way from Venezuela to try to stop Gaetano Badalamenti, Giuseppe Di Cristina and Salvatore Inzerillo from retaliating against the growing power of the Corleonesi. His efforts were in vain.

[edit] Second Mafia War

Gradually, Michele Greco sided with the Corleonesi and according to some, was no more than a "puppet" for Corleonesi boss Totò Riina. The Corleonesi’s decimated their adversaries when the simmering conflict escalated into an all-out war after the killing of Stefano Bontade in 1981. According to Tommaso Buscetta Michele Greco would just nod his head and agree with virtually everything Riina said during meetings between the heads of various Mafia families.

During the Second Mafia War another offspring of the Greco clan rose to prominence: Giuseppe Greco, a distant relative of Salvatore and Michele Greco. Giuseppe Pino Greco was one of Totò Riina preferred hit man and became a member of the Sicilian Mafia Commission as well. Although Michele Greco nominally was his boss and head of the Commission, he was treated by Pino Greco as an irrelevant old man, making clear Pino Greco held the real power, according to pentito Francesco Marino Mannoia. Greco’s contempt for Cosa Nostra’s leadership was such that he no longer attended the meetings of the Commission, sending his deputy Vincenzo Puccio instead.[18]

[edit] Decline

Towards the end of 1985, Giuseppe Greco vanished. He was murdered on the orders of Riina, who thought Greco was getting a bit too ambitious. Riina was apparently threatened by the way a significant following of younger mobsters looked up to Greco and saw him as a potential future boss. Michele Greco was arrested on February 20, 1986, and joined the hundreds of defendants at the Maxi Trial. Greco gave testimony at the trial and to illustrate his standing as a supposedly honest citizen, he boasted of all the illustrious people he had entertained at his large estate, including a former chief prosecutor and police chiefs.

The Greco clan lost its grip on the mandamento of Ciaculli, which was merged with Brancaccio and the leadership eventually was taken over by Giuseppe Graviano and his brother Filippo from the Brancaccio Mafia family. Salvatore Greco surrendered on January 25, 1991, while in hospital for a heart attack. By than he was considered not more than a museum piece – the Greco’s were no longer part of the power structures of Cosa Nostra.[17]

[edit] References

  1. ^ Lodato, Ho ucciso Giovanni Falcone, p. 53
  2. ^ (Italian) Lupo, Storia della mafia, p. 81
  3. ^ (Italian) Caruso, Da cosa nasce cosa, p. 84-86
  4. ^ a b c d Dickie, Cosa Nostra, p. 254-59. Ermanno Sangiorgi, Questore (chief of police) of Palermo from 1898-1900 wrote a series of very comprehensive reports on Palermo's and the province's Mafia, formed by various groups, coordinated by a "conference among bosses" and headed by a "supreme boss", with details of criminal family structures, individual profiles, Mafia initiation rituals, codes of behaviour as well as it business methods and operations.
  5. ^ Sterling, Octopus, p. 97-98.
  6. ^ a b c d e f Servadio, Mafioso, p. 178-79.
  7. ^ (Italian) Lupo, Storia della mafia, p. 169
  8. ^ (Italian) Onesti, onestissimi praticamenti mafiosi, I Siciliani, April 1984
  9. ^ a b (Italian) L'organizzazione giudiziaria antimafia: una lunga battaglia, Gioacchino Natoli, February 19, 2005
  10. ^ Lupo, Storia della mafia, p. 198
  11. ^ a b Schneider & Schneider, Reversible Destiny, p. 62
  12. ^ Sicilian Blood, Time, September 3, 1956
  13. ^ Gambetta, The Sicilian Mafia, p. 112
  14. ^ The Rothschilds of the Mafia on Aruba, by Tom Blickman, Transnational Organized Crime, Vol. 3, No. 2, Summer 1997
  15. ^ Servadio, Mafioso, p. 181.
  16. ^ Schneider & Schneider, Reversible Destiny, p. 77-78
  17. ^ a b Caruso, Da cosa nasce cosa, p. 487
  18. ^ Stille, Excellent Cadavers, p. 306
  • (Italian) Caruso, Alfio (2000). Da cosa nasce cosa. Storia della mafia dal 1943 a oggi, Milan: Longanesi ISBN 88-304-1620-7
  • Dickie, John (2004). Cosa Nostra. A history of the Sicilian Mafia, London: Coronet ISBN 0-340-82435-2
  • Gambetta, Diego (1993).The Sicilian Mafia: The Business of Private Protection, London: Harvard University Press, ISBN 0-674-80742-1
  • (Italian) Lodato, Saverio (1999). Ho ucciso Giovanni Falcone. La confessione di Giovanni Brusca, Milan: Mondadori ISBN 88-04-55842-3
  • (Italian) Lupo, Salvatore (1993). Storia della mafia. Dalle origini ai giorni nostri, Rome: Donzelli editore ISBN 88-7989-020-4
  • Schneider, Jane T. & Peter T. Schneider (2003). Reversible Destiny: Mafia, Antimafia, and the Struggle for Palermo, Berkeley: University of California Press ISBN 0-520-23609-2
  • Servadio, Gaia (1976). Mafioso. A history of the Mafia from its origins to the present day, London: Secker & Warburg ISBN 436-44700-2
  • Sterling, Claire (1990), Octopus. How the long reach of the Sicilian Mafia controls the global narcotics trade, New York: Simon & Schuster, ISBN 0-671-73402-4
  • Stille, Alexander (1995). Excellent Cadavers. The Mafia and the Death of the First Italian Republic, New York: Vintage ISBN 0-09-959491-9

[edit] External links















Giuseppe Lucchese

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Giuseppe Lucchese

Mugshot of Giuseppe Lucchese.



September 2, 1959(1959-09-02)
Palermo, Sicily


30 counts of murder


Life imprisonment


Imprisoned since 1990



Giuseppe Lucchese (born September 2, 1959) is a member of the Sicilian Mafia from the Brancaccio neighbourhood in Palermo. He was one of the favourite hitmen of the Corleonesi, headed by Totò Riina, during the Second Mafia War in 1981-83.

Lucchese and Vincenzo Puccio murdered their boss Giuseppe "Pino" Greco in 1985. Puccio replaced Greco and Lucchese became his substitute. After the killing of Puccio on May 11, 1989, Lucchese became the capo-mandamento of the Ciaculli-Brancaccio mafia families.[1]

Lucchese is suspected of being one of the accomplices in the murders of the mafiosi Stefano Bontade and Salvatore Inzerillo. He was arrested on April 1, 1990, and imprisoned for multiple murder. He received a life sentence for the murder of Carabinieri General Carlo Alberto Dalla Chiesa[2][3] and the communist politician Pio La Torre[4] both in 1982.

[edit] References

  1. ^ (Italian) Ordinanza di custodia cautelare in carcere, Tribunale di Caltanissetta, Ufficio del giudice per le indagini preliminari, April 11, 1994
  2. ^ (Italian) La lotta contro la mafia, website of the Carabinieri
  3. ^ (Italian) Delitto Dalla Chiesa, Cassazione conferma ergastoli per boss Ganci e Lucchese, La Sicilia, May 12, 2006
  4. ^ (Italian) Omicidio La Torre, condannati "cupola" e sicari, La Sicilia, April 28, 2007








Michele Zaza – sicilian – camorra – cigarettes -




Michele Zaza

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Michele Zaza (Procida, April 10, 1945 – Rome, July 18, 1994) was a member of the Neapolitan Camorra who was also initiated in the Sicilian Mafia. He was known as "’O Pazzo" (the madman) due to his outspoken and improbable public pronouncements. He was one of the first Camorristi to emerge as a powerful figure in the cigarette contraband industry.



[edit] Biography

[edit] Early career

The son of a fisherman from Procida (the smallest of the three islands in the Gulf of Naples) He grew up in the poor neighbourhood Portici in Naples and had his first brush with the law in 1961 when he was arrested for being involved in a street fight.[1][2] By 1974 there was evidence that he had made a qualitative leap when he was arrested with some top Mafiosi Gerlando Alberti, Stefano Bontade and Rosario Riccobono. Soon after that he was arrested in Palermo with Mafia boss Alfredo Bono for illegal possession of firearms.[3]

Zaza was an extravagant and prolific cigarette smuggler through the port of Naples. He once described his activities during questioning by an investigating magistrate:

“First I’d sell five cases of Philip Morris, then ten, then a thousand, then three thousand, and I bought myself six or seven ships that you took away from me… I used to load fifty thousand cases a month… I could load a hundred thousand cases, US$10 million on thrust, all I had to do was make a phone call… I’d buy US$24 million worth of Philip Morris in three months. My lawyer will show you the receipts. I’m proud of that - US$24 million!”[3]

[edit] King of the blondes

As the major Camorra cigarette smuggler of the 1970s and 1980s, Michele Zaza once said: “At least 700,000 people live off contraband, which is for Naples what Fiat is to Turin. They have called me the Agnelli of Naples… Yes – it could all be eliminated in thirty minutes. And then those who work would be finished. They’d all become thieves, robbers, muggers. Naples would become the worst city in the world. Instead, this city should thank the twenty, thirty men who arrange for ships laden with cigarettes to be discharged and thus stop crime!” (The Agnelli referred to is Gianni Agnelli, president of Fiat, the Turin-based car multinational)[4]

Zaza became known as ‘the King of the blondes’, as cigarettes are called in slang, and ran a fully multinational operation together with his brother Salvatore.[1] The two main tobacco multinationals, Philip Morris (Marlboro) and Reynolds (Camel and Winston), through concessionaires in Basel, Switzerland, supplied the merchandise without much questions asked.[5]

[edit] Initiated in Cosa Nostra

To secure their share in the thriving illicit industry the Sicilian Mafia initiated Zaza into the Mafia family of Michele Greco in 1974.[3][6] The Neapolitan Camorra and their Sicilian partners were smuggling cigarettes by the shiploads. Zaza later admitted he was dealing in 50,000 cases of Marlboros a month.[5][7]

Twice in 1977, Zaza was discovered in the company of several mafiosi, first at a restaurant with Vincenzo Spadaro and Filippo Messina, and again at a Social Democrat Party branch in Naples, with Bernardo Brusca and Filippo Messina. According to the documents found in his possession, he was already selling 5000 tonnes of cigarettes per year.[8]

Several Camorra and Mafia clans struck a deal on the division of the shiploads of contraband cigarettes at a meeting in 1974 in Marano, the stronghold of Camorra boss Lorenzo Nuvoletta. Zaza’s cunning helped him to slowly emerge from the shadow of his Mafia protectors. The Marano agreement between Sicilians and Neapolitans was wound up at a second Marano meeting in 1979, partly because Zaza had become uncontrollable. Mafia supergrass Tommaso Buscetta remembered: “According to what Stefano Bontade told me, laughing, Michele Zaza used every trick in the book to unload his own cigarettes rather than those of the Palermo families.”[1]

[edit] Camorra war

At the end of the 1970s two different types of Camorra organisations were beginning to take shape. On the hand there was the Nuova Camorra Organizzata (NCO) under the leadership of Raffaele Cutolo. The NCO type gangs which dealt mainly in cocaine and protection rackets, preserving a strong regional sense of identity, and the business-oriented gangs linked to the Mafia like Zaza’s organisation, who dealt in cigarettes and heroin, but soon moved on to invest in real estate and construction firms.[9]

Cutolo’s NCO was becoming more powerful by encroaching and taking over other group’s territories. The NCO was able to break the circle of traditional power held by the families. Cutolo’s organisation was just too aggressive and violent to be resisted by any individual families. Other Camorra families initially were too weakened, too divided, and simply too intimidated by the NCO. He requested that if other criminal groups wanted to keep their business, they had to pay the NCO protection on all their activities, including a percentage for each carton of cigarettes smuggled into Naples. This practice came to be known as ICA (Imposta Camorra Aggiunta – or Camorristic Sale Tax), mimicking the state VAT sale tax IVA (Imposta sul Valore Aggiunto).[10]

During the NCO’s highest point of expansion, Zaza had to pay Cutolo’s organisation US$400,000 for the right to carry on operating in contraband cigarettes.[9] However, no hierarchy between Camorra gangs or stable spheres of influence had been created, and no gang leader was likely to agree to taking a back seat without making a fight of it. In 1978, Zaza formed a ‘honourable brotherhood’ (Onorata fratellanza) in an attempt to get the Mafia-aligned Camorra gangs to oppose Cutolo and his NCO, although without much success. A year later, in 1979, the Nuova Famiglia was formed to contrast Cutolo’s NCO, consisting of Zaza, the Nuvoletta’s and Antonio Bardellino from Casal Di Principe (the Casalesi clan). From 1980-1983 a bloody war raged in and around Naples, which left several hundred dead – and severely weakened the NCO.

[edit] Drug trafficking

By that time Zaza had moved into drug trafficking as well. He was involved in the Pizza Connection case of the early 1980s, and his name came up in connection with a September 1982 Paris meeting with other Mafiosi in which a 600 kg package of cocaine held in Brazil was discussed.[11] In 1982, with the DEA on his tail, he allegedly was involved in importing 93 kg of heroin to his mansion in Beverly Hills in cooperation with Salamone. However, the DEA could not find the shipment.[12][13] Zaza got his heroin supplies from the Corsican gangster Gaetan Zampa.[14]

In 1982, with police raiding heroin refineries in Sicily and a raging Mafia war, Zaza is rumoured to have set up a refinery on his own in the French city of Rouen, with support of contacts from the old French Connection days and the right tie-ins with the Sicilian Mafia, such as Giuseppe Bono in New York, Antonio Salamone and the Cuntrera-Caruana Mafia clan.[12] He bought the premises worth $2 million. Zaza hoped to make between $20,000 and $32,000 a day profit until the plan was interrupted by his arrest.[1]

[edit] Immensely wealthy

Due to his illicit trafficking enterprises, Zaza became immensely wealthy. When he was arrested police found cheques worth US$950,000 in his pockets. By 1989 the US Treasury Department estimated his assets in the US alone were worth US$3.2 million. At the same time the FBI also estimated that he had US$15 million deposited in Swiss banks. For many years his daughter has been the official owner of a ten-bedroom villa in Beverly Hills, not to mention a Paris flat, a villa just outside Nice and several properties in Naples.[1]

On December 11, 1982, Zaza was arrested in Rome. Immediately his health deteriorated and cardiologists believed his situation alarming. He was placed under house arrest. On February 15, 1983, he received another arrest warrant in connection with the Italian end of the Pizza Connection (with Giuseppe Bono and the Cuntrera-Caruana Mafia clan as well as his father-in-law Giuseppe Liguori). However, Zaza, fled his house arrest in December 1983 and moved to Paris. There, he was arrested again on April 16, 1984, with Nunzio Barbarossa. He was again extradited to Italy.[13] Due to his heart condition he again avoided prison.

[edit] Moving to France

After his release in Italy, Zaza moved his base of operations to the South of France to avoid harassment from Italian authorities (particularly new laws which allow the seizure of assets whose origin cannot be accounted for). Until his arrest in Nice on March 14, 1989 (following the discovery of a lorry carrying 500,000 packets of contraband cigarettes)[15], he appears to have engaged in top-level criminal activity, apparently hosting a Camorra drugs summit at the Elysée Palace hotel in Nice in February 1989.[16] In 1990 Zaza’s associates, in particular his father-in-law Giuseppe Liguori, almost managed to buy the casino at Menton, on the French side of the Franco-Italian border.[1][17]

In July 1991, a French court sentenced him to three years for cigarette smuggling. Benefiting from a French law that facilitates the release of prisoners who already have served half their sentence, Zaza was released in November 1991, while Italian authorities asked for his extradition for Mafia association, drug trafficking and cigarette smuggling.[18]

In May 1993, police dismantled a Cosa Nostra-Camorra ring of 39 people involved in cocaine trafficking and money laundering in Italy, France and Germany (Operation Green Sea). Zaza was arrested in Villeneuve-Loubet on the French Riviera near Nice in Southern France.[18] He was extradited from France on March 27, 1994.[19] On July 18, 1994, he died of a heart attack in a Rome hospital where he had been transferred from the Rebibbia prison.[18]

[edit] References

  1. ^ a b c d e f Behan, The Camorra, pp. 130-31
  2. ^ Calvi, L'Europe des parrains, pp. 63-4
  3. ^ a b c Behan, The Camorra, pp. 50-51
  4. ^ Haycraft, The Italian Labyrinth, pp. 199-200
  5. ^ a b (Italian) Relazione sullo stato della lotta alla criminalità organizzata nella provincia di Brindisi, Commissione parlamentare d’inchiesta sul fenomeno della mafia e delle altre associazioni criminali similari, July 1999, p. 14-15
  6. ^ Sterling, Octopus, p. 164-65
  7. ^ Dickie, Cosa Nostra, p. 356
  8. ^ Behan, See Naples and Die, pp. 73
  9. ^ a b Behan, The Camorra, p. 55
  10. ^ Jacquemet, Credibility in Court, pp. 43-44
  11. ^ Behan, The Camorra, p. 124
  12. ^ a b Sterling, Octopus, p. 271-72
  13. ^ a b Calvi, L'Europe des parrains, p. 77-80
  14. ^ Calvi, L'Europe des parrains, p. 66
  15. ^ (French) L'ombre de la drogue, L'Humanité, June 19, 1991
  16. ^ (French) Le sanctuaire français de la mafia, L'Humanité, April 17, 1991
  17. ^ Follain, A Dishonoured Society, p. 198
  18. ^ a b c Follain, A Dishonoured Society, pp. 195-96
  19. ^ Reputed Naples Crime Boss Extradited in Italian Inquiry, The New York Times, March 27, 1994

Retrieved from "http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Michele_Zaza"

Categories: 1945 births | 1994 deaths | Deaths from myocardial infarction | People from Naples | Camorristi | Associates of the Sicilian Mafia
















Sicilian Mafia Commission

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For The Commission of the American Mafia, see The Commission (mafia).

The Sicilian Mafia Commission, known as Commissione or Cupola, is a body of leading Mafia members to decide on important questions concerning the actions of, and settling disputes within the Sicilian Mafia or Cosa Nostra. It is composed of representatives of a mandamento (a district of three geographically contiguous Mafia families) that are called capo mandamento or rappresentante. The Commission is not a central government of the Mafia, but a representative mechanism for consultation of independent Mafia families who decide by consensus. "Contrary to the wide-spread image presented by the media, these superordinate bodies of coordination cannot be compared with the executive boards of major legal firms. Their power is intentionally limited. And it would be entirely wrong to see in the Cosa Nostra a centrally managed, internationally active Mafia holding company," according to criminologist Letizia Paoli.[1]

Judge Cesare Terranova who disclosed the existence of a Mafia Commission

The jurisdiction extends over a province; each province of Sicily has some kind of a Commission, except Messina, Siracusa and Ragusa. Initially the idea was that the family bosses would not sit on the Commission, but in order to prevent imbalances of power some other prominent member would be appointed instead. However, that rule was not obeyed from the start. According to the pentito Tommaso Buscetta the Commission first came into being "to settle disputes between members of the various families and their bosses" in order to discipline members of each family. Only later did its function expand to "the regulation of the activities of all families in a province."[2]



[edit] Exposure

The first time the existence of such a Commission filtered out to the rest of the world was in 1965 during the inquiry into the so-called First Mafia War by judge Cesare Terranova. Terranova based himself on a confidential report of the Carabinieri of May 28, 1963, where a confidential informant revealed the existence of a commission composed of fifteen persons – six from Palermo city and the rest from towns in the province – "each with the rank of boss of either a group or a Mafia family." Judge Terranova did not believe that the existence of a commission meant that the Mafia was a tightly unified structure.[3] In 1973, Leonardo Vitale – a lower level Mafioso – revealed the existence of the Commission, but his revelations were discarded at the time and Vitale judged insane.[4]

The existence of the Commission was first established by a court of law during the Maxi Trial in 1986-87. The groundwork for the Maxi Trial was done at the preliminary investigative phase by Palermo's Antimafia Pool, created by judge Rocco Chinnici in which the judges Giovanni Falcone and Paolo Borsellino worked as well.[5] It was Tommaso Buscetta who definitively revealed the existence and workings of the Commission, when he became a state witness and started to give evidence to judge Giovanni Falcone in 1984. It enabled Falcone to argue that Cosa Nostra was a unified hierarchical structure ruled by a Commission and that its leaders – who normally would not dirty their hands with criminal acts – could be held responsible for criminal activities that were committed to benefit the organisation.

The existence and functioning of the Commission was confirmed by the first degree conviction. The Mafia was identified with the Cosa Nostra organization, and defined a unique, pyramidal and apex type organization, provincially directed by a Commission or Cupola and regionally by an interprovincial organism, in which the head of the Palermo Commission has a hegemonic role.[5] This premise became known as the Buscetta theorem. That vision of Cosa Nostra was not immediately recognized. Other magistrates, in particular Corrado Carnevale – also known as the Sentence Killer – of the Supreme Court (Corte di Cassazione), sustained that Mafia associations are autonomous groups, not connected amongst themselves, and therefore, the collective responsibility for the Commission members did not exist. Carnevale’s view prevailed at the appeal of the Maxi Trial, but at the theorem was confirmed upheld by the final sentence of the Supreme Court in January 1992. (Carnevale did not preside the court that did the ruling). In the meantime, the Antimafia Pool of Palermo was dismantled and judge Rocco Chinnici had been murdered in 1983.

Many Mafia bosses were condemned to life in prison and Cosa Nostra reacted furiously and started a series of revenge killings because of the Supreme Court sentence. The Mafia had counted on the politicians Salvo Lima and Prime Minister Giulio Andreotti to appoint Corrado Carnevale to review the sentence. Carnevale had overturned many Mafia convictions on the slenderest of technicalities previously. Carnevale, however, had to withdraw due to pressure from the public and from Giovanni Falcone – who at the time had moved to the ministry of Justice. Falcone was backed by the minister of Justice Claudio Martelli despite the fact that he served under Prime Minister Andreotti. In March 1992, Lima was killed, followed by Falcone and Paolo Borsellino later that year.

[edit] Interprovincional Commission

Beyond the provincial level details are vague. According to the pentito Tommaso Buscetta a commissione interprovinciale – Interprovincional Commission – was set up in the 1970s, while the pentito Antonino Calderone claims that there had been a rappresentante regionale in the 1950s even before the Commissions and the capi mandamento were created. The rappresentante regionale in those days was a certain Andrea Fazio from Trapani.[6]

The Interprovincional or Regional Commission was probably set up in February 1975 on the instigation of Giuseppe Calderone from Catania who became its first "secretary". The other members were Gaetano Badalamenti for Palermo, Giuseppe Settecasi (Agrigento), Cola Buccelato (Trapani), Angelo Mongiovì (Enna) and Giuseppe Di Cristina (Caltanissetta).

According to the pentito Leonardo Messina, the Regional Commission in 1992 was made up by Salvatore Riina for the province of Palermo, Nitto Santapaola for the province of Catania, Salvatore Saitta for the province of Enna, Giuseppe "Piddu" Madonia for the province of Caltanissetta, Antonio Ferro for the province of Agrigento and Mariano Agate for the province of Trapani.[7]

[edit] History and rules

Tommaso Buscetta in his early years

According to Tommaso Buscetta the first Sicilian Mafia Commission for the province of Palermo was formed after a series of meetings between top American and Sicilian mafiosi that took place in Palermo between October 12-16 1957, in the hotel Delle Palme and the Spanò seafood restaurant. US gangsters Joseph Bonanno and Lucky Luciano suggested their Sicilian counterparts to form a Commission, following the example of the American Mafia that had formed their Commission in the 1930s.

The Sicilians agreed with their suggestion and Buscetta, Gaetano Badalamenti and Salvatore Greco "Ciaschiteddu" set the ground rules. Sometime in early 1958 the Sicilian Mafia formed its first Mafia Commission. It was formed among Mafia families in the province of Palermo, which had the highest concentration of cosche (Mafia families), approximately 46. Salvatore "Ciaschiteddu" Greco was appointed as its first segretario (secretary) or rappresentante regionale, essentially a "primus inter pares" – the first among equals. Initially, the secretary had very little power. His task was simply to organize the meetings.[3]

Before that time the Mafia families were not connected by a collective structure. According to judge Cesare Terranova they "were a mosaic of small republics with topographical borders marked by tradition."[3] In the days before the Commission coordination inside Cosa Nostra was ensured by informal meetings among the most influential members of the most powerful families. In fact, the decision to form a Commission was a formalisation of these occasional meetings into a permanent, collegial body.[8]

Originally, to avoid excessive concentration of power in the hands of a few individuals it was decided that only "men of honour" holding no leadership position within their own family – in other words simple "soldiers" – could be appointed as members of the Commission. That rule was immediately dropped due to the opposition of some Family-bosses who threatened to abandon the project from the start.

The Commission had two main competencies. The first was to settle conflicts among Mafia families and single members, and to enforce the most serious violations of the normative codes of Cosa Nostra. Second, the Commission was entrusted with the regulation of the use of violence. It had exclusive authority to order murder of police officials, prosecutors and judges, politicians, journalists and lawyers, because these killings could provoke retaliation by law enforcement. To limit internal conflicts, it was agreed that each Family boss had to ask the Commission’s authorisation before killing any member of another Family.[8]

Until the early 1980s the Commission’s competencies were often disregarded due to its collegial character and the wide autonomy for the Family bosses. Only when Totò Riina, Bernardo Provenzano and the Corleonesi imposed their rule, the Commission became a central leadership body. However, the Commission in fact lost its autonomy and became a mere enforcement body that endorsed the decisions made by Riina and Provenzano.

[edit] The first Commission

According to Buscetta the first Commission numbered "not many more than ten" and the number was variable. Among the members of the first Commission in the province of Palermo were:[9]

The Commission, however, was not able to prevent the outbreak of a violent Mafia War in 1963. Casus belli was a heroin deal going wrong, and the subsequent killing of Calcedonio Di Pisa on December 26, 1962, who was held responsible. Instead of settling the dispute, the Commission became part of the internal conflict.

On June 30, 1963, a car bomb exploded near Greco’s house in Ciaculli, killing seven police and military officers sent to defuse it after an anonymous phone call. The outrage over the Ciaculli massacre changed the Mafia war into a war against the Mafia. It prompted the first concerted anti-mafia efforts by the state in post-war Italy. The Sicilian Mafia Commission was dissolved and of those mafiosi who had escaped arrest many went abroad. "Ciaschiteddu" Greco fled to Caracas in Venezuela.[10]

According to Tommaso Buscetta it was Michele Cavataio, the boss of the Acquasanta quarter of Palermo, who was responsible for the Ciaculli bomb, and possibly the murder of boss Calcedonio Di Pisa in late 1962. Cavataio had lost out to the Greco’s in a war of the wholesale market in the mid 1950s. Cavataio killed Di Pisa in the knowledge that the La Barbera’s would be blamed by the Greco’s and a war would be the result. He kept fuelling the war through other bomb attacks and killings.[11][12]

Cavataio was backed by other Mafia families who resented the growing power of the Mafia Commission to the detriment of individual Mafia families. Cavataio was killed on December 10, 1969, in the so-called Viale Lazio massacre in Palermo as retaliation for the events in 1963.According to Buscetta and Grado, the composition of the hit squad was a clear indication that the killing had been sanctioned collectively by all the major Sicilian Mafia families: not only did it include Calogero Bagarella and Bernardo Provenzano from Corleone, and members of Stefano Bontade's family in Palermo, but also a soldier of Giuseppe Di Cristina's family on the other end of Sicily in Riesi.[12]

[edit] Triumvirate

Luciano Leggio, a member of the triumvirate that was formed in 1970, at a court appearance in 1974
Mafia boss Gaetano Badalamenti, member of the triumvirate and head of the Commission from 1974-1978

The crackdown on the Mafia resulted in a period of relative peace – a "pax mafiosa" – while many mafiosi were held in jail or were banished internally. The verdict of the Trial of the 114 against the Mafia in Catanzaro in December 1968 resulted in many acquittals or short sentences for criminal association. The vast majority of mafiosi had to be released given the time they had already spent in captivity while awaiting trial.

Under these circumstances, the Sicilian Mafia Commission was revived in 1970. It would consist of ten members but initially it was ruled by a triumvirate consisting of Gaetano Badalamenti, Stefano Bontade and the Corleonesi boss Luciano Leggio, although it was Salvatore Riina who actually would represent the Corleonesi, substituting Leggio who was on the run until his arrest in 1974.

In 1974 the 'full' Commission was restored under the leadership of Gaetano Badalamenti. Among the members were:[9]

(Several pentiti, such as Salvatore Cancemi, Francesco Di Carlo and Giovanni Brusca say that Giuseppe Farinella, for the Gangi-San Mauro Castelverde mandamento, Francesco Intile for the Caccamo mandamento and Antonio Mineo for the Bagheria mandamento, were or became members as well.[13])

During these years tensions between different coalitions within the Commission increased. In this period the Commission was increasingly dominated by the coalition led by Totò Riina and Bernardo Provenzano that was opposed by Gaetano Badalamenti and Stefano Bontade. Riina and Provenzano secretly formed an alliance of mafiosi in different families, cutting across clan divisions, in defiance of the rules concerning loyalty in Cosa Nostra. This secretive inter-family group became known as the Corleonesi. The wing headed by Badalamenti and Bontade defended the existing balance of power between the single Mafia families and the Commission.

Thanks to a shrewd manipulation of the rules and elimination of its most powerful rivals (in particular the killings in 1978 of Giuseppe Calderone and Giuseppe Di Cristina, members of the Interprovincional Commission) the Corleonesi coalition was able to increase its power within the Commission. Their rivals were overwhelmed and lost any power to strike back. Beside using violence, the Corleonesi also imposed their supremacy by shrewdly exploiting a competence of the Commission: the power to suspend leaders of a Family and to name a reggente, a temporary boss.

[edit] The 1978 Commission

Michele "The Pope" Greco, at the Maxi Trial in the mid 1980s

In 1978, Gaetano Badalamenti was expelled from the Commission and as head of his Family. Michele Greco replaced him as the secretary of the Commission. Badalamenti’s removal marked the end of a period of relative peace and signified a major change in the Mafia itself. In 1978 the Commission was composed by:[9]

The Commission was divided between the Corleonesi (Riina, Calò, Madonia, Brusca, Geraci, Greco Scarpuzzedda, Motisi and probably Scaglione as well) and the group Bontade, Inzerillo and Pizzuto. A third group, Michele Greco, Riccobono and Salamone were not hostile to the group of Bontade but were against Gaetano Badalamenti.

While the more established Mafia families in the city of Palermo refrained from openly killing authorities because that would attract too much police attention, the Corleonesi deliberately killed to intimidate the authorities in such a way that the suspicion fell on their rivals in the Commission. In 1979 Pino Greco from Ciaculli also known as Scarpuzzedda and Riina’s favourite hit man entered the Commission as well.

Instead of avoiding conflict the Commission increasingly became an instrument in the enfolding power struggle that would eventually lead to the quasi-dictatorship of Toto Riina. Members of the Commission were no longer freely selected by the provinces but were chosen on the basis of their allegiance to Riina's faction, and eventually were only called to legitimize decisions that had already been taken elsewhere.[14][15]

[edit] Second Mafia War

Mafia boss Stefano Bontade, the "Prince of Villagrazia", who was killed by the Corleonesi in 1981

The Second Mafia War raged from 1981-1983. On April 23, 1981, Bontade was machine gunned to death in his car in Palermo. Bontade’s close ally, Salvatore Inzerillo, was killed three weeks later with the same Kalashnikov. The Corleonesi slaughtered the ruling families of the Palermo Mafia to take control of the organisation while waging a parallel war against Italian authorities and law enforcement to intimidate and prevent effective investigations and prosecutions. More than 200 mafiosi were killed and many simply disappeared.

In 1982 the Commission members were:[9]

The Commission was now dominated by Riina and Provenzano. More and more the independence of Mafia families was superseded by the authoritarian rule of Riina. Nor did the killing end when the main rivals of the Corleonesi were defeated. Whoever could challenge Riina or had lost its usefulness was eliminated. Rosario Riccobono and a dozen men of his clan were killed in November 1982. In 1985 Pino Scarpuzzedda Greco, Riina’s favourite hit man, was murdered on the orders of Riina, who thought Greco was getting a bit too ambitious for his own good.

The Commission in fact lost its autonomy and became a mere enforcement body that endorsed the decisions made by Riina and Provenzano and their close group of allies. According to Buscetta: "With the power gained by the Corleonesi and their allies the traditional organizational structures had a purely formal value … the decisions were taken before … and the Commission was nothing but the faithful executor of orders." [8]

Meanwhile new mandamenti were formed in 1983, whose members entered the Commission: Raffaele Ganci for the Noce mandamento, Giuseppe Giacomo Gambino for the San Lorenzo mandamento, Matteo Motisi for the Pagliarelli mandamento and Salvatore Buscemi for the Passo di Ragano-Boccadifalco mandamento. In 1986-87 the Santa Maria di Gesù mandamento (the former fiefdom of Stefano Bontade) was reinstated, represented by Pietro Aglieri.

Since the arrests as a result of the revelations of pentiti such as Tommaso Buscetta, Salvatore Contorno, Francesco Marino Mannoia and Antonino Calderone, and the Maxi Trial in the 1980s many Commission members ended up in jail. They were substituted by a so-called sostituto or reggente.

[edit] The 1992 Commission

In 1992 the Commission that decided to kill the politician and Prime Minister Giulio Andreotti’s right-hand man on Sicily Salvo Lima and the judges Giovanni Falcone and Paolo Borsellino was composed of:[7][16]

[edit] Provenzano's new Mafia

Provenzano proposed a new less violent Mafia strategy instead of the terrorist bombing campaign in 1993 against the state to get them to back off in their crackdown against the Mafia after the murders on Anti-mafia prosecutors Giovanni Falcone and Paolo Borsellino. Following the months after Riina's arrest, there were a series of bombings by the Corleonesi against several tourist spots on the Italian mainland – the Via dei Georgofili in Florence, Via Palestro in Milan and the Piazza San Giovanni in Laterano and Via San Teodoro in Rome, which left 10 people dead and 93 injured as well as severe damage to centres of cultural heritage such as the Uffizi Gallery.

Provenzano's new guidelines were patience, compartmentalisation, coexistence with state institutions, and systematic infiltration of public finance. The diplomatic Provenzano tried to stem the flow of pentiti by not targeting their families, only using violence in case of absolute necessity. Provenzano reportedly re-established the old Mafia rules that had been abolished by Totò Riina under his very eyes when, together with Riina and Leoluca Bagarella, he was ruling the Corleonesi faction.

Giovanni Brusca – one of Riina's hitmen who personally detonated the bomb that killed Falcone, and later became an informant after his 1996 arrest – has offered a controversial version of the capture of Totò Riina: a secret deal between Carabinieri officers, secret agents and Cosa Nostra bosses tired of the dictatorship of the Corleonesi. According to Brusca, Provenzano "sold" Riina in exchange for the valuable archive of compromising material that Riina held in his apartment in Via Bernini 52 in Palermo.

Apparently, the Sicilian Mafia at present is divided between those bosses who support a hard line against the Italian state – mainly bosses currently in jail such as Salvatore 'Totò' Riina and Leoluca Bagarella – and those who support the more moderate strategy of Provenzano. The incarcerated bosses are currently subjected to harsh controls on their contact with the outside world, limiting their ability to run their operations from behind bars under the article 41-bis prison regime. (The human-rights group Amnesty International has expressed concern that the 41-bis regime could in some circumstances amount to "cruel, inhumane or degrading treatment" for prisoners.)

Antonino Giuffrè – a close confidant of Provenzano, turned pentito shortly after his capture in April 2002 – alleges that in 1993, Cosa Nostra had direct contact with representatives of former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi while he was planning the birth of Forza Italia. The deal that he says was alleged to have been made was a repeal of 41 bis, among other anti-Mafia laws in return for delivering electoral gains in Sicily. Giuffrè's declarations have not been confirmed.

During a court appearance in July 2002, Leoluca Bagarella suggested unnamed politicians had failed to maintain agreements with the Mafia over prison conditions. "We are tired of being exploited, humiliated, harassed and used as merchandise by political factions," he said. Nevertheless, the Italian Parliament, with the support of Forza Italia, subsequently prolonged the enforcement of 41 bis, which was to expire in 2002, for another four years and extended it to other crimes such as terrorism. However, according to one of Italy’s leading magazines, L’Espresso, 119 mafiosi – one-fifth of those incarcerated under the 41-bis regime – have been released on an individual basis.[17]

[edit] Division and rivalry

In 2002 a rift within Cosa Nostra became clear. On the one hand there were the hardline "Corleonesi" in jail – led by Totò Riina and Leoluca Bagarella – and on the other the more moderate "Palermitani" – led by Provenzano and Antonino Giuffrè, Salvatore Lo Piccolo and Matteo Messina Denaro. Apparently the arrest of Giuffrè in April 2002 was made possible by an anonymous phone call that seems to have been made by loyalists to the Mafia hardliners Riina and Bagarella. The purpose was to send a message to Provenzano. The incarcerated bosses wanted something to be done about the harsh prison conditions (in particular the relaxation of the 41-bis incarceration regime) – and were believed to be orchestrating a return to violence while serving multiple life sentences.

Targets were to have been Marcello Dell'Utri and former Defence Minister Cesare Previti, both close advisors of then Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, according to a leaked report of the intelligence service SISDE. Riina and Bagarella felt betrayed by political allies in Rome, who had promised to help pass laws to ease prison conditions and reduce sentences for its jailed members in exchange for Mafia support at the polls. The SISDE report says they believed that hits on either of the two embattled members of Berlusconi's Forza Italia party — each under separate criminal indictments — would have been less likely to provoke the kind of public outrage and police crackdown that followed the 1992 murders of the widely admired Sicilian prosecutors Giovanni Falcone and Paolo Borsellino.[18]

According to press reports, when Provenzano was moved to the high security prison in Terni, Totò Riina’s son Giovanni Riina, who has been sentenced to life imprisonment for three murders, yelled that Provenzano was a "sbirro" – a popular Italian pejorative expression for a police officer – when Provenzano entered the cell block. The pentito Antonino Giuffrè has said in October 2005 that there had been rumours within Cosa Nostra that Provenzano was an informer for the Carabinieri while he was on the run.[19]

[edit] After Provenzano's arrest

After the arrest of Bernardo Provenzano on April 11, 2006 – on the same day as Romano Prodi's victory in the 2006 Italian general election against Silvio Berlusconi – several mafiosi were mentioned as Provenzano's successor. Among the rivals were Matteo Messina Denaro (from Castelvetrano and the province of Trapani), Salvatore Lo Piccolo (boss of Tommaso Natale area and the mandamento of San Lorenzo[disambiguation needed] in Palermo), and Domenico Raccuglia from Altofonte. Provenzano allegedly nominated Messina Denaro in one of his pizzini – small slips of paper used to communicate with other mafiosi to avoid phone conversations, found at Provenzano's hide out.

This presupposes that Provenzano has the power to nominate a successor, which is not unanimously accepted among Mafia observers. "The Mafia today is more of a federation and less of an authoritarian state," according to anti-Mafia prosecutor Antonio Ingroia of the Direzione distrettuale antimafia (DDA) of Palermo, referring to the previous period of authoritarian rule under Salvatore Riina. Provenzano "established a kind of directorate of about four to seven people who met very infrequently, only when necessary, when there were strategic decisions to make." [20]

According to Ingroia "in an organization like the Mafia, a boss has to be one step above the others otherwise it all falls apart. It all depends on if he can manage consensus and if the others agree or rebel." Provenzano "guaranteed a measure of stability because he had the authority to quash internal disputes." Among the members of the directorate were Salvatore Lo Piccolo; Antonino Giuffrè from Caccamo; Benedetto Spera from Belmonte Mezzagno; Salvatore Rinella from Trabia; Giuseppe Balsano from Monreale; Matteo Messina Denaro from Castelvetrano; Vincenzo Virga from Trapani; and Andrea Manciaracina from Mazara del Vallo.[21]

After the arrests of Benedetto Spera, Vincenzo Virga (both in 2001) and Antonino Giuffrè in 2002 (who decided to cooperate with the authorities), the leadership of Cosa Nostra was in the hands of the fugitives Bernardo Provenzano, Salvatore Lo Piccolo and Matteo Messina Denaro. Following Provenzano's capture in April 2006, Italy's intelligence service report warned of "emerging tensions" between mafia groups as a result of Provenzano's failure to designate either Salvatore Lo Piccolo or Matteo Messina Denaro as his successor. The Antimafia Investigative Directorate (DIA) cautioned that the capture of Provenzano could potentially present mafia leaders an opportunity to return to violence as a means of expressing their power.[22]

Two months after Provenzano’s arrest, on June 20, 2006, authorities issued 52 arrest warrants against the top echelon of Cosa Nostra in the city of Palermo (Operation Gotha). Study of the pizzini showed that Provenzano’s joint deputies in Palermo were Salvatore Lo Piccolo and Antonio Rotolo, capo-mandamento of Pagliarelli. In a message referring to an important decision for Cosa Nostra, Provenzano told Rotolo: "It's up to you, me and Lo Piccolo to decide this thing." [23]

The investigations showed that Rotolo had built a kind of federation within the mafia, comprising 13 families grouped in four clans. His right-hand men were Antonio Cinà – who used to be the personal physician of Salvatore Riina and Provenzano – and the builder Francesco Bonura. The city of Palermo was ruled by this triumvirate replacing the Commission whose members are all in jail.

What emerged as well was that the position of Salvatore Lo Piccolo was not undisputed. Authorities said they avoided the outbreak of a genuine war inside Cosa Nostra. The first clash would have been between Rotolo and Lo Piccolo. What sparked off the crisis was a request from the Inzerillo family, one of the clans whose leaders – among them Salvatore Inzerillo – were killed by the Corleonesi during the Second Mafia War in the 1980s and which are now in exile in the United States. Rotolo had passed a death sentence on Lo Piccolo and his son, Sandro, even before Provenzano's arrest – and even procured the barrels of acid that are used to dissolve the bodies of slain rivals.[24]

[edit] Reconstitution twarthed

In December 2008, an attempt to reconstitute a new Commission was foiled, when 94 Mafiosi were arrested after a nine-month investigation dubbed "Operation Perseus" (Perseo in Italian; after the Greek mythological hero Perseus who beheaded Medusa). From tapped phone conversations and surveillance, police had obtained a full list of those present and those who had sent their apologies, as well as details of the issues discussed and the decisions adopted.[25][26]

The object, as one tapped Mafioso put it, was to "re-establish Cosa Nostra" in the old style, with a single all-powerful boss, a "capo di capi".[25] Benedetto Capizzi, a 65-year-old boss from Villagrazia, had been nominated as the possible head of the Commission. Among the other members were other historical Cosa Nostra bosses, such as Gerlando Alberti, Gregorio Agrigento from San Giuseppe Jato, Giovanni Lipari, Gaetano Fidanzati, Giuseppe Scaduto from Bagheria and Salvatore Lombardo, the 87-year old boss from Montelepre. Many of those arrested had recently been released from prison on health grounds, and were serving out their sentences under house arrest.[25][26]

Among the younger bosses were Gianni Nicchi, the young and upcoming boss from Pagliarelli and Giuseppe Biondino, the son of Salvatore Biondino who had been Riina’s driver. A preliminary summit meeting had been held on November 14, 2008, with Lo Presti, Scaduto, Capizzi – and also Nicchi.[27] The new Commission had the blessing of the old bosses Totò Riina and Bernardo Provenzano, as well as Matteo Messina Denaro, the boss from the province of Trapani. Not everyone agreed, however. Gaetano Lo Presti from the Porta Nuova family objected to the choice of Capizzi as the new head. He committed suicide after his arrest. Police feared the outbreak of a new Mafia war and decided to interfere.[25] Nicchi and Fidanzati escaped the arrests.

[edit] References

  1. ^ Crisis among the "Men of Honor", interview with Letizia Paoli, Max Planck Research, February 2004
  2. ^ The Sicilian Connection, Time Magazine, October 15, 1984
  3. ^ a b c Gambetta, The Sicilian Mafia, p. 110-12
  4. ^ Dickie, Cosa Nostra, pp. 265-268
  5. ^ a b Law Enforcement in Italy and Europe against mafia and organized crime, Umberto Santino
  6. ^ Arlacchi, Gli uomini del disonore, p. 30
  7. ^ a b (Italian) Ordinanza di custodia cautelare in carcere, Tribunale di Caltanissetta, Ufficio del giudice per le indagini preliminari, April 11, 1994
  8. ^ a b c Paoli, Mafia Brotherhoods, p. 52-55
  9. ^ a b c d Padovani and Falcone, Men of Honour.
  10. ^ Servadio, Mafioso, p. 181.
  11. ^ Schneider & Schneider, Reversible Destiny, p. 65-66
  12. ^ a b Stille, Excellent Cadavers, p. 103-04
  13. ^ (Italian) Sentenza di secondo grado Riina + 7 (omicidio Francese)
  14. ^ Paoli, Mafia Brotherhoods, p. 57
  15. ^ Review of: Paoli, Mafia Brotherhoods
  16. ^ (Italian) Sentenza appello Strage di Capaci
  17. ^ (Italian) Hotel a cinque stelle, L'Espresso, January 16, 2006.
  18. ^ Are Mob Hits Bad for Business? Time Europe Magazine, September 30, 2002; and (Italian) "Previti e Dell'Utri nel mirino", La Repubblica, September 7, 2002.
  19. ^ (Italian) "Provenzano confidente dei carabinieri", La Repubblica, October 22, 2005.
  20. ^ The Mafia after Provenzano-peace or all-out war? by Philip Pullella, Reuters, April 12, 2006.
  21. ^ (Italian) Oliva & Palazzolo, L’altra mafia
  22. ^ Changes in Mafia Leadership Reveal New Links to US-Based La Cosa Nostra, DNI Open Source Center, November 19, 2007
  23. ^ Police strike at heart of mafia averts bloody power struggle, by John Hooper, The Guardian, June 21, 2006.
  24. ^ "Pizzini" Notes Reveal New Mafia Bosses, by Felice Cavallaro, Corriere delle Sera, June 21, 2006
  25. ^ a b c d Mafia chiefs seized as they select godfather, The Independent, December 17, 2009
  26. ^ a b (Italian) Mafia, maxi blitz in Sicilia: "Volevano rifondare la Cupola", La Repubblica, December 16, 2008
  27. ^ (Italian) Maxi blitz contro la nuova cupola; uno dei boss si impicca in carcere, La Repubblica, December 17, 2008

Lo piccolo captured in 07’


Top Sicilian Mafia Boss Arrested


By JEFF ISRAELY Monday, Nov. 05, 2007

Police officers with Salvatore Lo Piccolo, second from left, shortly after his arrest


I love you, papà," the son said in tears. "I love you papà." It would have been a touching farewell, if not for the fact that 32-year-old Sandro Lo Piccolo is a convicted murderer — and the dad he was being torn away from is the most wanted boss in the ever-powerful Sicilian Mafia. Top boss Salvatore Lo Piccolo and his son were captured together Monday morning in a small hamlet outside of Palermo in Sicily, a bust immediately hailed as a major victory for the Italian state in its ongoing battle against organized crime. Lo Piccolo, 65, was considered the unrivaled leader of the world's best-known crime syndicate, Cosa Nostra (Our Thing), after the April 2006 capture of legendary capo Bernardo Provenzano. He had been a fugitive since 1983. Salvatore Lo Piccolo was the only one able to take over the mantle from Provenzano, Italy's top Mafia prosecutor Piero Grasso told reporters.

Some 40 members of the same special "Catturando" police unit that nabbed Provenzano in the hills of Corleone found the Lo Piccolos, and several other top Mafia figures, in a pair of well-furnished houses near the town of Cinisi, just west of Palermo. The senior Lo Piccolo, sporting a leather jacket and a mane of white hair and beard, shared only a vague resemblance with the most recent composite sketch. On the premises, police found weapons, cash, fake identification and the tiny handwritten notes that Provenzano also utilized for communicating among mob bosses. Italian media report that the younger Lo Piccolo, who himself had been on the lam for more than a decade, repeatedly called out his love to his father as he was being taken away in handcuffs.

Indeed, the Mafia is still very much a family affair. Loyalty is ensured by blood rites and membership passed down through the generations of certain clans. The elder Lo Piccolo may have spelled his own doom by being in close proximity to his son for a summit on Monday. Provenzano, who evaded capture for 43 years, including a decade as Italy's most wanted man, famously lived in isolation, often in rugged conditions to better duck the authorities.

The older Lo Piccolo, a native of the Tommaso Natale neighborhood of western Palermo, had been Provenzano's top lieutenant in the capital while grooming his son for succession. Since his ascension in the wake of Provenzano's capture, police say Lo Piccolo was also focused on expanding ties with the American mob. He had favored allowing a historic Mafia family to return to the Sicilian capital after more than two decades of forced exile in the United States, following an internal mob war in the 1980s. Dubbed "gli scappati" (the fled ones), the Inzerillo family had been on the verge of total extermination by then boss of bosses Toto Riina, Provenzano's boyhood friend from Corleone, in the bloody Mafia War of 1980-81. With the intervention of relatives in New York, including associates of the Gambino crime family, a deal was worked out that allowed the surviving Inzerillos to take refuge in the U.S., with the agreement that none of them, or their offspring, could ever return to Sicily. But with Riina long since serving life, and Provenzano eventually joining him, several key Inzerillo family members had returned to Palermo to forge an alliance with Lo Piccolo that had appeared to reinforce the ambitious boss's standing, police told TIME.

But whoever bet on Lo Piccolo is now sure to suffer. Pretenders to the throne will now see a power vacuum. Matteo Messina Denaro, who hails from the west coast Sicilian city of Trapani, may be in position now to take over supreme control of the organization. Messina Denaro, 45, is said to have a weakness for fast cars and Armani suits, but was nevertheless highly respected by the more traditional Provenzano. Investigators say they had an almost father-and-son rapport.

Read more: http://www.time.com/time/world/article/0,8599,1680632,00.html#ixzz0YYsMQU9q







Mafia don found hanging in police cell 24hrs after blitz on


Cosa Nostra

By Daily Mail Reporter
Last updated at 3:41 PM on 17th December 2008

An alleged Mafia boss hanged himself in jail, hours after he was arrested in a blitz against Cosa Nostra, police in Sicily said.

Authorities arrested 90 suspects yesterday to prevent what they said were the Sicilian mob's efforts to rebuild Cosa Nostra after arrests of several top fugitives in recent years had left the syndicate's leadership in disarray.

Gaetano Lo Presti, 52, committed suicide in his cell in a Palermo jail yesterday evening, hours after he was arrested in the raid.

Alleged Mafia boss Gaetano Lo Presti, is escorted away from the police headquarters in Palermo, Italy


Sicilian mafia members (L to R top to bottom), Salvatore Lo Bue, Salvatore Lo Cicero, Gaetano Lo Presti, Giuseppe Scaduto, Antonino Spera, Gregorio Agrigento, Luigi Caravello, Mariano Troia, Giovanni Adelfio and Francesco Bonomo

State radio said he used his belt to hang himself. Police said the death was under investigation.

Investigators believe Lo Presti allegedly headed a Mafia clan in the city's Porta Nuova district, Palermo police said.

The capture of top fugitives in recent years, some of them after years or decades on the run, has weakened Cosa Nostra.

Also threatening Cosa Nostra's psychological and economic hold on much of the Mediterranean island has been a steadily spreading rebellion of Sicilian businessmen against paying 'protection money' to Mafia henchmen.

Authorities say they ordered Tuesday's raids to head off a bloody power struggle among rival mob bosses to rebuild the crime syndicate.

Italian Carabinieri paramilitary police officers escort a man identified as Giuseppe Scaduto from the court in Palermo

Under heavy guard, alleged Mafia boss Benedetto Capizzi, is escorted away from the Caserma Carini, police headquarters in Palermo

State TV reported that investigators believed that Lo Presti was planning to kill off supporters of a rival he didn't want to see get to the top of Cosa Nostra.

National anti-Mafia prosecutor Piero Grasso indicated in speaking to reporters in the northern city of Bergamo Wednesday that wiretapped conversations had helped investigators shed light on Lo Presti's strategy.

Grasso noted that some of those arrested on Tuesday had been convicted two decades ago in Palermo's 'maxi-trial' of hundreds of mobsters, served long sentences and then resumed criminal activity when released.

State TV said that Lo Presti a few years ago had finished serving a 27-year prison sentence.

While Sicily's Cosa Nostra has been reeling under blows in the last decade, organized crime syndicates on Italy's mainland have grown increasingly powerful and violent.

Authorities have said that Cosa Nostra has been eclipsed in power and reach in international drug trafficking by the Calabrian 'ndrangheta, based in the 'toe' of the Italian peninsula.

Camorra crime families based in the Naples area have been waging a terror spree for months, with some businessmen who have refused extortion demands among the victims of arson or killings.

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/worldnews/article-1096751/Mafia-don-hanging-police-cell-24hrs-blitz-Cosa-Nostra.html#ixzz0YYvA4oKS