Italy police arrest new Mafia boss in Sicily
POLICE arrested the suspected new head of the Sicilian Mafia and 45 other alleged gangsters on Tuesday, dealing a major blow to the mob as it tried to rebuild after years of setbacks.
Settimo Mineo, an 80-year-old jeweller with a previous mafia conviction, was elected to take the helm of the crime group Cosa Nostra, or “Our Thing”, at a secret meeting of mob families from in and around the Sicilian capital Palermo in May.
It was the first such gathering of the powerful Palermo clans since their previous leader, Salvatore “Toto” Riina, was arrested in 1993 and convicted of ordering dozens of murders.
Riina died in prison last year while serving 26 life sentences. Italian media have long speculated over who might have replaced him but prosecutors said on Tuesday Palermo mobsters waited until after his death to anoint a successor.
“There has been a return to the old, archaic rules of ‘Cosa Nostra’,” chief prosecutor Francesco Lo Voi told reporters. “During the course of the May meeting they discussed the need to re-establish rules which had been lost on the street.”
Once all-powerful on Sicily, the world’s most famous crime gang has been squeezed over the past two decades, with many bosses put behind bars, businesses sequestered and locals increasingly ready to defy it.
Italian media showed pictures of the whitehaired, bespectacled Mineo being led away by police, his handcuffed hands hidden beneath a coat.
“There is no more room for this type of scum in Italy,” Deputy Italian Prime Minister Luigi Di Maio wrote on Instagram after the wave of pre-dawn arrests.
Also on Wednesday scores of people were arrested in Italy and other European countries in a raid on the ’Ndrangheta cocaine-trafficking group that officials said is the largest sweep of its kind.
Those arrested are suspected of drug trafficking, money laundering, bribery and violence, said Italian police and Eurojust, the European agency that oversees judicial cooperation in crime investigations.