Italian police have arrested the new ‘godfather’ of the Sicilian mafia Cosa Nostra (Our Thing), Settimino Mineo, and dozens of other suspects in a pre-dawn raid on Tuesday.
The arrests come just hours before he was set to be formally made head of Sicilian Mafia’s leadership called Cupola which had not met for years,
Deputy Prime Minister Luigi Di Maio said the arrests in Palermo have dealt a big blow to organised crime in Sicily. Scums like Mineo have no place in Italy, Maio said.
Some 45 other suspects with mafia links have been charged with extortion, illegal gun possession, arson, and other crimes.
The leadership change in Cosa Nostra was necessitated by the death of Mafia boss Toto Riina in prison last year. Riina spent over two decades in jail for ordering dozens of murders including those of two anti-mob magistrates.
Mineo was elected godfather of Cosa Nostra at an informal meeting in May this year.
The Cupola’s move to meet again after a long gap indicated the intention of Sicilian Mafia families to close their ranks to revive Cosa Nostra.
Mineo, officially a jeweller, had served a five-year sentence for ordering the death of anti-mafia judge Giovanni Falcone.
Mineo was devoted to Cosa Nostra. He was nearly killed in a 1982 ambush which claimed the life of his brother Giuseppe. Another brother, Antonino, was killed in cold blood six months before that incident in front of their family jewellery store.
Despite arrests after Mafia bosses or members such as Leonardo Vitale, Tommaso Buscetta and Salvatore Contorn turned informants, Mineo never betrayed Cosa Nostra. This loyalty, coupled with his sense of balance and diplomacy, brought Mineo close to Riina and his inner circle.
After his release from jail, Mineo spent most of the time visiting other mafia families, mediating for them and assuring them protection. During such visits, he walked a lot to escape notice. He never used cell phones.
In the meantime, Palermo’s local government on Monday decided to rename roads, streets and squares after 48 victims of Mafia in Sicily.