21 squeeze artists arrested in mob-infested Bagheria (and other good news)
by Carl Russo
“BASTA!”—“ENOUGH!”—was the cry of three dozen businessmen shaken down to the brink of poverty in Bagheria, a moldering baroque city long controlled by the Sicilian Mafia. The so-called “shopkeepers revolt” took a sledgehammer to the mob’s extortion racket and made headlines from the New York Times to the Napa Valley Register. This comes as a fresh change following recent news of child killings and flamboyant funerals.
From supermarkets to apparel shops to gambling rooms, everybody paid off Bagheria’s bagmen—or else. “No one should suck the blood of my children,” said one exasperated shopkeeper forced to offer cash “gifts” to a parasitical boss. The merchants’ willingness to name names, along with the cooperation of former gangster Sergio Flamia, helped police capture twenty-one extortioners.