THE Sicilian mafia and the US mobs as soon as managed a multi-million greenback business of vice that spanned the Atlantic, ruling with bloody vengeance.

However as their energy base was slowly damaged by concerted efforts by authorities in each Italy and the US, so that they have been supplanted by extra ruthless gangsters in South America and Jap Europe.


Matteo Messina Denaro’s seize this week shocked ItalyCredit: Getty


Matteo Messina Denaro was arrested in Palermo on January 16Credit: Reuters


The Cosa Nostra has introduced a long time of distress to SicilyCredit: Letizia Battaglia/Cohen Media Group


The aftermath after a automobile bomb exploded in Palermo in 1992Credit: AP:Related Press


Albanian gang members

This week’s arrest of Matteo Messina Denaro, the “final godfather” and boss of the scary Sicilian Cosa Nostra mafia, is seen by many as marking the tip of the fabled crime group.

Denaro spearheaded a brutal marketing campaign of terror within the Eighties and 90s when the Cosa Nostra declared warfare on the Italian state, murdering judges, bombing church buildings, and even declaring a vendetta in opposition to the pope.

That he was caught residing simply 10 miles from his birthplace in western Sicily reveals how his interior circle had shrunk smaller and smaller over his 30 years on the run.

However as John Dickie, Professor of Italian at UCL defined, it’s only a signal of how far the notorious Cosa Nostra’s fortunes have fallen.

He advised The Solar On-line: “Mafia bosses who go on the run keep of their native territory. That is the place their organisation and help networks are, and once they can disguise most successfully.

“A era in the past, when Denaro went on the run, western Sicily was ‘hostile territory’ for the state.

“The mafia had given itself the precise to kill anybody with impunity, and to take its extortion tax from any financial exercise, whether or not authorized or unlawful.”

Describing the mafia at the moment as a “shadow state,” he added that Sicily within the Nineteen Nineties was at actual danger of turning right into a “narco” republic.

“Over the past 30 years, the Italian state has slowly gained again floor, and that has lower away at Denaro’s help community,” he mentioned.

“That help community prolonged up and down the social scale, and included siblings and enterprise supporters.”

Dickie, creator of “Cosa Nostra: The Historical past of the Sicilian Mafia”, referred to as Denaro because the “final” of the most important mafia bosses on the island.

“This represents the turning of the web page for Sicily, and it is one other signal that the Sicilian mafia is in a extremely dangerous manner,” he mentioned.

The Cosa Nostra is among the 4 main mafia-type organisations energetic in Italy in the present day.


The suspected head of ‘Ndrangheta, Salvatore Coluccio was arrested in 2009Credit: AFP


Cops have destroyed an Italian-Albanian drug-trafficking gang in SavonaCredit: Guardia di Finanza


Italian cops arrested 19 folks linked to drug trafficking between South America and Italy run by the ‘Ndrangheta mafiaCredit: ANSA


Suspected drug gang boss Bledar Shtembari appeared earlier than courtroom final 12 months


A complete of 334 folks have been arrested in Italy’s greatest bust in opposition to the ‘NdranghetaCredit: Italian Carabinieri Press Offiice

Of the three others, probably the most {powerful} is the ‘Ndrangheta mafia primarily based in Calabria, southern Italy.

The opposite two are the Camorra centred across the southern port metropolis of Naples and the Sacra Corona Unita, primarily based in Puglia, additionally in southern Italy.

This represents the turning of the web page for Sicily, and it is one other signal that the Sicilian mafia is in a extremely dangerous manner

John DickieProfessor of Italian, UCL

Whereas the ‘Ndrangheta has lengthy had hyperlinks to the cartels of South America, Dickie defined that the Cosa Nostra was as soon as omnipotent as a result of it had one thing the opposite mafia teams did not – a trans-Atlantic bridge.

With its sister organisation La Cosa Nostra in New York made up largely of the 5 ruling households, the Sicilian mafia had entry to the richest marketplace for unlawful items on the planet.

However within the Nineteen Seventies, the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act got here into legislation.

This federal legislation, designed to fight organised crime within the US, allowed criminals to hit with prolonged penalties and a civil reason for motion for his or her roles in felony organisations.

As Dickie defined: “The bridge has been damaged. This was a serious reason for the decline of the Sicilian mafia.”

This was adopted within the Eighties by the Fee Trial which focused American mobsters, and the Maxi Trial in Palermo, Sicily, which noticed 338 mobsters jailed.

Denaro’s arrest, subsequently, is much less a hammer blow for the mafia in Sicily, however a mirrored image of how far its fortunes have fallen.

It additionally displays the decades-long battle by authorities and cops in Sicily to focus on the mob.

To display the chaos on the high of the Cosa Nostra, its coordinating physique, the place the “Boss of Bosses” meets along with his deputies, hasn’t been capable of meet in individual since 1993.

Dickie mentioned: “They’ve tried 4 instances to reform and elect a brand new boss of bosses, however every time police have been watching and bugging them.”

This has seen a variety of additional mobsters arrested, prosecuted and jailed whereas making an attempt to restart the fee.

“If you’re a mafia boss, your enterprise will cross into different bosses’ territories,” he mentioned. “For instance, if authorities are constructing a highway and also you need to take your lower, the highway will move into one other mafia boss’s territory.


‘Ndrangheta’s high boss Pasquale Condello who evaded seize for yearsCredit: Handout


Sicilian Mafia boss Toto Riina throughout his trial in 1994Credit: Rex

“You want a presiding authority, or the scenario will descend into bloodshed. Issues do not work practically as easily or as neatly with out the fee.”

However the decline of the Cosa Nostra does not imply the tip of the mafia utterly.

Whereas the Sicilian mafia’s ties to the US mob have been destroyed, the ‘Ndrangheta has a much more international attain.

“Italian mafia organisations are territorial,” Dickie mentioned. “They exist to regulate territory and be a shadow state.

“When the Cosa Nostra suffers, the residents and state win, not one other felony organisation.

“It means the liberty to run a enterprise with out extortion calls for.”

The Sicilian mafia is not plying the worldwide drug routes like they used to, Dickie defined.

However drug markets, that are extra of a “free-for-all” the Ndrangheta at the moment are way more profitable.

The arrest of Denaro, the final residing “godfather” of the Cosa Nostra’s so-called “bloodbath wing”, may permit the Ndrangheta to step into this void within the worldwide drug markets.

Italy’s former nationwide anti-mafia and anti-terrorism prosecutor Federico Cafiero De Raho advised the Monetary Instances: “His absconding highlighted the extraordinary energy of Cosa Nostra.

“His arrest has damaged this energy.”

However the place the mafia’s energy has subsided, different teams have swept in to take their place.

Europe has been hit by what Belgian federal police chief Eric Snoeck described as a “tsunami” of cocaine in recent times.

Some 240 tons of the drug have been seized in 2021 in response to Europol, practically 5 instances greater than a decade earlier.

Europe has change into a profitable marketplace for the massive drug cartels, delivery their good into the continent through main ports resembling Antwerp and Rotterdam.

With Antwerp torn aside by gunbattles, Belgium’s chief prosecutor Johan Delmulle warned that the nation may quickly “be considered a narco-state,” the identical course that Sicily was feared to be heading within the Nineteen Nineties when Denaro was at his top.

Cartels in Colombia and Mexico management the overwhelming majority of the world’s cocaine market, bringing their brutal violence to Europe.

Jap European gangsters are additionally now in command of medication markets in lots of elements of the continent.

However Denaro’s seize could not imply the demise of Cosa Nostra completely.

The mafia is just ever as {powerful} as its community of corrupt officers it might depend on.

Denaro’s seize could give a brand new, hungrier management the prospect to stand up.


The dreaded Mafia group unfold terror throughout Sicily within the Eighties and 1990sCredit: Letizia Battaglia/Cohen Media Group


The local people grew to concern the Cosa Nostra following a collection of murders over the yearsCredit: Letizia Battaglia

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