Tag Archives: Italian Mafia


Inside The Sicilian Mafia’s Drug Empire

Hidden amongst lush tangerine orchards in 1970s Sicily lay the heart of Michele ‘The Pope’ Greco’s drugs empire…


Giuseppe Greco’s death from a tumor last February garnered more press than his movies ever did. The obituaries read like a string of bad reviews, casting the filmmaker’s career in the shadow of the Mafia. The plot points are damning: he served a four-year sentence for laundering illicit money through his productions; he borrowed a deluxe Mercedes 500 from Palermo’s crooked mayor, Salvo Lima, for a film shoot; and, after jail, he wrote and directed a family saga that romanticises the Mafia of old Sicily.

But the piece of publicity that stuck to him most was the kind you can’t buy and wouldn’t want to: Giuseppe was the son of Michele Greco, the infamous “Pope” of the Mafia.

Don Michele Greco, the debonair silver fox whose ever-present Bible and prayer cards lent him a pious air, was the toast of Palermitan society in the 1970s. His estate, “Favarella,” in the eastern suburb of Ciaculli, was a lush expanse of tangerine orchards with plenty of wild game to excite the sportsmen among the local elites. Many of the rooms in Greco’s lodge had giant ovens and barbecue grills enjoyed by the business leaders, politicians and policemen who were frequent guests. Favorites were given a key to the gate.

Yet the virtuous world of Greco the country gentleman was illusory. The best parcels of land were not inherited but wrenched from nobility by intimidation tactics that whittled the selling price to a symbolic fee. The neighbors were also coerced into selling cheap.

The Grecos of Ciaculli and the Grecos of the adjacent Croceverde Giardini—related by marriage—were not gentry but a criminal dynasty. A violent history that included a mid-century feud positioned Don Michele to assume the role of the region’s “emperor,” a word he preferred to “pope” for its hereditary connotation. Favarella was the throne of his empire, supported by roguish relatives like the psychopathic killer, Pino “Little Shoe” Greco.

Michele Greco’s aggressive land acquisition was not an attempt to corner the tangerine market but rather to control the water below the surface. Though the public owned a large portion of it, Greco and his fellow mafiosi sold to Palermo a third of its water supply at a premium. The city coffers were siphoned most heavily during the dry season. Such a scheme would be impossible without the help of able profiteers like Mayor Lima and his public works chief, Vito Ciancimino, both of the Mafia-friendly Christian Democratic Party.

Favarella was much more than a weekend playground for Greco’s well-heeled crowd. Deep among the citrus trees was a building used for refining heroin by the syndicate from Corleone, run by godfather Luciano Leggio and his lieutenant Totò Riina. A network of tunnels was dug below the orchards to allow escape during a raid.

Ascendant in power around Palermo, the Corleonesi pushed a member off the ruling Mafia Commission to make room for Greco, whose legitimizing presence and papal diplomacy would sway decisions in their favor. He also became a spy for Riina at numerous Mafia summits held on the estate.

Riina’s constant impulse was to eliminate perceived threats in the most final of terms. Dozens of enemies came to an end on Favarella following Greco’s secret debriefings, including his drug-trade competitor Rosario Riccobono, despised for killing an old friend. As the successful boss slept off a sumptuous Christmas dinner hosted by Riina and Greco, “Little Shoe” crept up and strangled him. Several of Riccobono’s men were likewise slaughtered on that evening in 1982, reduced in acid and buried on the grounds.

The bloodbath only increased as the power-mad Riina declared war on a new generation of government prosecutors intent on ending Mafia corruption. Carried out by Greco and his clan, the streets of Palermo became strewn with the “excellent cadavers” of anti-Mafia officials: General Dalla Chiesa, Judge Chinnici, Judge Falcone and many more.

After police caught up with the fugitive “Pope” Greco, Bible in hand, he assumed the role of a victimised small farmer: “I’ve been ruined by this mistaken identity with the Grecos of Ciaculli; I belong to the Grecos of Croceverde Giardini. Violence is beneath my dignity. I mind my own business, tending the trees and the land…. The Mafia I know is the Mafia everybody knows. Even to talk about drugs disgusts me. All that I possess is the fruit of my labor and the heritage of my parents.”

When asked by a reporter how a self-proclaimed peasant could run with such an affluent crowd, he said, “At sixteen I began to go trapshooting. Now I’m sixty-two—do the math. There [at Favarella], I met the best class of Palermitan society. I made friendships that have lasted all my life.”

But aside from a temporary prison release decreed by a “friendly” judge nicknamed “the sentence killer,” none of his friends could help him. In a cage at the historic Mafia maxi-trial of 1987, charged with seventy-eight murders, Greco delivered a typically cryptic invocation to his prosecutor that was half blessing, half threat:

“I wish you peace, Mr. President…because peace is tranquillity of the spirit, the conscience. And for the duty that awaits you, serenity is the foundation on which to judge. Those aren’t my words, they’re the words of our Lord who commanded Moses: ‘When you must judge, decide with the utmost of serenity.’ And I wish, Mr. President, that this peace accompanies you for the rest of your life.”

Greco died in prison at the age of eighty-three, with a Bible by his side, on February, 13, 2008. His son Giuseppe, the director who never lived down his family’s reputation, died three years later in friendly territory: Croceverde Giardini.

by Bluto Ray
Source: sabotagetimes.com



Anti-mafia raids target Rome, Calabria

Italian police said they launched two major anti-mafia operations Friday in Rome and the southern region of Calabria, targeting around 100 people.

The Rome operation, described by Italian media as the largest ever undertaken in the capital region, targeted people who helped lead “illegal activities” in the city and the suburb of Ostia, police spokesman Mario Viola told AFP.
The second, entirely separate operation targeted members of the Ndrangheta in Catanzaro, Calabria, Viola said, adding that 50 arrest warrants were issued for each of the operations.
In Calabria, the arrest warrants concerned “50 to 70 people, including entrepreneurs, politicians and lawyers”, Viola said.

In Italy, arrest warrants can be issued against people already detained for other offences.
By early morning, the police were unable to say how many had been detained as part of the raids.
According to the Italian news agency Ansa, around 500 police officers took part in the Rome operation, “the largest ever undertaken” by the police in and around the capital. A helicopter, dog units and maritime police took part in it.

Source: foxnews.com


Mafia boss may be buried in Corleone mayor’s tomb

Palermo, – Sicilian prosecutors are exploring the possibility that remains found in the tomb of a former Corleone mayor could in fact belong to a local mafia boss, it emerged on Tuesday.

Investigations began after the town council reported that a skull found in the tomb of ex-mayor Bernardino Verro may be that of Calogero Bagarella, a close associate of former Cosa Nostra chiefs Toto’ Riina and Bernardo Provenzano, who is believed to have been shot dead during the so-called Viale Lazio attack on Palermo Mafia boss Michele Cavataio in December 1969.

Tests are now being carried out on the remains to establish if they can be dated to around the same period as the massacre. Verro, the first socialist mayor of Corleone and a symbol of the peasant struggle against the Mafia, died and was buried in Corleone in 1915 but his remains were moved to the family tomb in Palermo many years ago. It was the late mafioso-turned-informant Antonino Calderone who first suggested that Bagarella might be buried in his original tomb.

Messina Denaro

Messina Denaro assets seized

Messina DenaroItalian police on Friday seized hundreds of thousands of euros in assets belonging to the fugitive reputed head of the Sicilian Mafia, Matteo Messina Denaro.

Olive-oil businesses, cars and bank accounts were among the assets seized, police said.

They were in the name of Denaro’s sister Anna and her husband, detained on Mafia charges, 43-year-old Vincenzo Panicola.

A wave of arrests over recent years have closed the net around the fugitive 50-year-old Agrigento-based boss Denaro, one of the world’s 10 most-wanted men, who took control of Cosa Nostra after the 2006 arrest of Bernardo Provenzano.

In 2011 the hunt kicked into a new gear when police issued a new identikit picture of him.

A year previously were able to reconstruct his DNA.

Messina Denaro built up his power base in his native Trapani, in western Sicily, before beating Palermo chieftains to become Mob kingpin after ‘boss of bosses’ Provenzano was caught in April 2006.

His position at the top of Cosa Nostra was assured with the November 2007 arrest of Palermo boss Salvatore Lo Piccolo, a veteran mafia chieftain who had appeared to be vying with the younger mobster for control of crime syndicate and had the apparent support of the ‘old guard’.

Messina Denaro had been expanding his criminal empire abroad and police found evidence of trips to Austria, Greece, Spain and Tunisia.

But police launched a major counter-offensive, implementing a ‘scorched earth’ campaign to try and flush Messina Denaro out, arresting scores of his underlings and seizing million of euros in assets.

“The circle is closing around the No.1 fugitive,” then interior minister Roberto Maroni said in 2010.

Palermo Chief Prosecutor Francesco Messineo added at the time that their aim of the strategy against Messina Denaro was to “dry up the water he swims in”.

Last May National Anti-Mafia Prosecutor Pietro Grassi, who has since become a centre-left candidate in the upcoming elections, said the efforts had been so successful that “the Mafia effectively no longer has a No.1″.

Nicknamed ‘Diabolik’ after a cult Italian comic strip criminal, Messina Denaro sealed a reputation for brutality by murdering a rival Trapani boss and strangling his three-months pregnant girlfriend.

He is reportedly idolised by Cosa Nostra younger troops because of his ruthlessness and playboy-like charisma.

Source: ANSA.IT


Italian mobster arrested in Bali

Police on the Indonesian resort island of Bali have arrested a convicted Italian mobster who is believed to be an up-and-coming Mafia boss near Palermo, Sicily.

Antonio Messicati Vitale was captured at his luxury villa in the Legian neighbourhood of the popular tourist area of Kuta early on Friday in a joint operation by Indonesian and Italian police.

A photograph released by Italian police in Palermo shows Vitale wearing sunglasses, swimming trunks and a watch while relaxing on a striped beach towel on a lounge chair.

He has a cigarette in one hand and the Italian version of the Dan Brown novel, The Lost Symbol, in the other. A canned beverage, with a straw for sipping, sits in the sand, at arm’s length.

Police Maj Pande Putu Sugiarta said Vitale was believed to have hidden out in the seaside resort for the past six months.

The convicted Mafia boss is believed to have escaped capture earlier this year during a police raid to crack down on his alleged Villabate crime family on the outskirts of Palermo, the Italian news agency Ansa reported from the Sicilian capital.

Indonesian police received a notice about the 40-year-old fugitive from their Italian counterparts in November. Italian investigators were suspicious after some of his family relatives travelled to Bali, Ansa said.

Italian police officer Andrea Vitalone said in Bali that Vitale was wanted for involvement in various crimes, including murder, human trafficking and illegal arms trading. Plans are under way to take him back to Italy.

Vitale has to serve a 10-year sentence on a conviction for Mafia association. His father, a local mob boss, was fatally gunned down in 1988 in Sicily.



Italian police seize castle in €65m tax probe

Yesterday Italian police have seized assets worth €65m (£51.9m) in a tax probe involving the €5.3bn sale of fashion houses Hugo Boss and Valentino in 2007.
Italy’s tax police said on Monday they had confiscated real estate, including a 15th century castle, land and corporate holdings of 13 people “linked to one of Italy’s most important families in the fashion and textile sector”.
A person familiar with the investigation told Reuters the 13 people in question were linked to the Marzotto group, and included members of the Marzotto family.
Marzotto sold Valentino Fashion Group – then including both the Valentino label and Hugo Boss – to private finance group Permira in 2007.
The assets, including apartments in Milan and Rome, a 25-room villa in Alpine resort Cortina d’Ampezzo and land, were taken preventively to cover €65m in taxes the 13 people are suspecting of having dodged when they booked a €200m capital gain from selling Valentino, reports the Financial Times.
The Marzotto family members avoided Italian tax obligations by using a Luxembourg-based holding company for the Valentino sale.
Those under investigation are suspected of not having filed tax returns.
A spokesperson for the Marzotto Group declined to comment, saying the news did not involve the company or any of its units.
The Italian government has set fighting chronic tax evasion as one of its priorities as it seeks to come to grips with the country’s towering debt crisis and find resources to fund growth.
Lawyers representing the Marzotto family said the decision taken by Milan prosecutors ordering the seizure was “totally groundless”.
The lawyers said bank documents showed capital gains from the operation had been declared and taxed.
“I acknowledge the seizure measures. I think it right only to point out that I did not have any operative position in the company in which I was minority partner,” Matteo Marzotto, a board member of the textile family group, said in a statement.
The seized castle, Villa Trissino Marzotto, is near the town of Vicenza and has been in the Marzotto family for 60 years. With more than 50 rooms, it was expanded in the 18th century and has on its grounds two Italian-style geometrical gardens, a small forest, a road lined with lemon trees and more than 100 statues, reports the Financial Times.
The technocrat government of Prime Minister Mario Monti has described the fight against tax evasion as a state of war and has stepped up monitoring and collection efforts.
Earlier this year the head of Italy’s Inland Revenue service, Attilio Befera, said tax evasion totalled some €120bn.
“The investigation… revealed that a financial holding company purposefully created in Luxembourg was instead administered from Italy,” the police said.

Source: uk.finance.yahoo.com


Naples mafia suspects arrested over cocaine ‘thief”s murder

Police early on Tuesday in southern Italy arrested five suspects over the murder in 2006 as a ‘vendetta’ for the alleged theft of half a kilogramme of cocaine from the Naples mafia.
The five suspects allegedly belong to the Naples mafia or Camorra’s Belforte clan and face charges over the murder of Michele di Giovanni.
Di Giovanni was ‘punished’ by the Caserta-based Belforte clan for the purported cocaine theft, which occurred in 2003, according to investigators.
The arrests were carried out in Caserta on the orders of anti-mafia prosecutors following a lengthly judicial probe.