Upper ranks of Sicilian mob dismantled with arrests

Nellie Chapman
December 8, 2018

Settimino Mineo (C), jeweller and new head of the Sicilian mafia, is escorted by carabinieri as he exits a police station after his arrest, in Palermo, Italy, on December 4, 2018.

Settimo Mineo, 80, a lifelong member of the Sicilian mob who was recently released from prison, was allegedly appointed godfather at a secret summit in May to replace the mafia hitman Toto Riina, who died in jail previous year.

The police said that Mineo became the newly-appointed boss of Cosa Nostra after the gang orchestrated a meeting, the first in three years, to name a kingpin.

Italian media describe him as the successor to Toto Riina, who died in jail a year ago.

The Sicilian Mafia, commonly known as the Cosa Nostra, was formed in the 19 century and continues to be involved in various forms of organised crime, ranging from firearm trafficking, racketeering, extortion and armed robbery.

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His election marked a shift of power away from Corleone, the hilltop town that was Cosa Nostra's main base for years and was made famous by The Godfather novels and films.

Mineo survived a 1992 ambush that killed his brother Giuseppe, around six months after another brother, Antonino, was murdered outside the family jewelry shop.

Prosecutors say Mineo effectively tried to resurrect the structure in the province of Palermo and return to the rules governing territory and communication that had previously dictated dealings among mob clans. In 1992 two leading prosecutors, Giovanni Falcone and Paolo Borsellino, were blown up in Mafia hits. As the eldest of the local clan leaders, he enjoyed particular respect, he said. "And that despite the convictions, despite the trials, important people can take over the most important roles once they're back in play".

Police are due to release more information on their mafia arrests. But Italian officials said it nevertheless continued increasing its financial and business activities, and even started doing deals with the other southern syndicates. Italy's Minister of Interior Matteo Salvini said on Twitter that Tuesday's operation had, in essence, decapitated the mob.

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