Italian police have arrested the head of the Mafia in Corleone, the Sicilian hill town which was immortalised in ‘The Godfather’ films.
Gaetano Riina, 79, is the brother of Salvatore ‘Toto’ Riina, the former head of Cosa Nostra for the whole of Sicily, whose brutality earned him the nickname ‘The Beast’.
Toto Riina, “the boss of bosses”, was arrested in Palermo in 1993 and sentenced to life in prison after being convicted on multiple murder charges.
His brother, Gaetano, then assumed control of the mob in Corleone, police said.
He was arrested in the port town of Mazara del Vallo, on Sicily’s west coast, from where he allegedly controlled the Corleone clan, police said.
Three other men were arrested alongside him, including two of his grandsons: Alessandro Correnti, 39, and Giuseppe Grizzafi, 33.
All four men will be charged with extortion and criminal association.
The arrest dealt a blow to Cosa Nostra, which has seen its power eroded in recent years following a string of successful police operations, including raids and mass arrests of suspected Mafiosi.
“If we can eliminate Cosa Nostra then the country can grow, a Sicily without the mafia will be a Sicily that can start to develop again,” said a prosecutor in the case, Ignazio De Francisci.
Overshadowed by rocky crags and cliffs, Corleone was made famous by the 1969 book ‘The Godfather’ by the Italian-American author Mario Puzo, which told the story of a fictitious Sicilian mafia clan in New York and was subsequently turned into a trilogy of films.
“This operation shows that Corleone is still an important base for Cosa Nostra,” said Francesco Messineo, a chief prosecutor in Palermo.
“The mafia’s resistance to operations conducted by the state has been particularly strong in Corleone. But the Corleone of today is not the same town as five or 10 years ago – civil society has taken enormous steps forward.” As the Sicilian mafia’s influence has waned, it has been eclipsed by Italy’s two other main crime syndicates – the Camorra of Campania and the ‘Ndrangheta of Calabria.
source: Telegraph Media Group