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Entries in Marcello Dell’Utri (5)


Mafia Boss Totò Riina: Still Crazy After All These Years

Despite the Sicilian godfather’s threats, security is still a joke

by Carl Russo

Nino Di Matteo“WHEN HE GETS OUT, shoot him! Pom! Pam!” That’s Totò Riina reliving the killing of Salvatore Inzerillo, just one of many rivals whose assassination he ordered during his reign as the Sicilian Mafia’s supreme commander. This provocative sound bite comes from the latest batch of transcripts of conversations Riina had with boss Alberto Lorusso, secretly recorded in a prison cell a year ago.

As more excerpts of the Riina-Lorusso tapes are released to the public—their words fill thirteen hundred pages—it is clear that the capomafia’s homicidal impulse is as fresh as it was in 1992, when his campaign to exterminate the officials pursuing him culminated in the blowing up of top anti-Mafia judges Giovanni Falcone and Paolo Borsellino, followed by a series of bombings of Italian landmarks that claimed twenty-two lives.

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Unsung Heroes, Unstrung Hooligans

A beating by the Mafia didn’t change the mind of one stubborn shopkeeper

by Carl Russo

OUR FASCINATION with the Mafia is in part a leer at the organization’s endless capacity to apply brute force in creative ways. To wit, last month’s story of a screaming victim tossed to ravenous pigs. But we’re also drawn to Mafia stories for the old good/evil dichotomy, Davids versus Goliaths armed to the teeth and cruel.

Giovanni BruscaOne news story with classical overtones is set in Noce, a traffic-snarled quarter of Palermo known as a Mafia stronghold since the late nineteenth century. A series of police crackdowns between October 2012 and March 2013 rid the local business community of pesky extortioners—for a few months, anyway. Cosa Nostra abhors a power vacuum: a new set of “tax collectors” soon descended on Noce merchants, demanding the pizzo—“protection” payments.

Those who hesitated to pay were duly punished, among them an artisanal carpenter who lost his Alfa Romeo to arson and was shot in the leg. Reporters noted that the new Mafia leader behind the attacks, 37-year-old Giuseppe Castelluccio, was also a carpenter. That irony grew darker with another reprisal against a holdout merchant, this time involving a blunt tool essential to the craft trade. But let’s take it back to last summer

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A Boy and His Toys

by Carl Russo

Gaspare Spatuzza let spill yesterday that the Mafia experimented with remote-controlled drones for use against enemies. The reformed hit man (and killer of the now canonized priest Pino Puglisi) said of his drone field tests: "We needed to learn how to pilot it and steer it towards targets, loading it with a modest amount of explosives."

Gaspare SpatuzzaMafia authority John Dickie tweeted about the news report: "Worthy but bit desperate stab at new angle on mafia." He's right: the idea of Spatuzza testing flying bombs is, like, wow, but it's not substantial news. The Mafia, thanks in part to him, accomplished much more mayhem and murder with terra-bound dynamite.

Besides, every time this pentito opens his mouth his words end up on newsprint. Like when he told a court that Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi and his longtime sidekick, Senator Marcello Dell'Utri, had "practically placed the country in our hands."

But Spatuzza is worth listening to: Dell'Utri began serving a seven-year prison sentence for Mafia association in March and Berlusconi faces jail time for everything from tax evasion to sex with a minor—not that he'll ever set his golden culo on a cell bunk.

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Ripping Rerun

by Bluto Ray

Michele GrecoI’m pleased to report that the British features syndicate Sabotage Times has reprinted an older blog post at their racy online journal. Retitled “Inside The Sicilian Mafia’s Drug Empire,” the article recounts the bloody doings in the citrus orchards of Ciaculli, Sicily, overseen by Mafia chiefs Michele “The Pope” Greco and Totò Riina.

To follow up on the article’s thread about The Pope’s filmmaking son, Giuseppe Greco, a.k.a. Giorgio Castellani, I’ve translated this note from a curated program of films featuring the popular comic actors Franco Franchi and Ciccio Ingrassia, both Palermo natives:


Crema, cioccolata e...paprika, [directed] by Michele Massimo Tarantini, is the absolute worst film in which the duo played marginal roles. The protagonists of this sluggish sex comedy are Barbara Bouchet and Massimo Montagnani, but the problem is the presence of the son of Mafia boss Michele Greco that brought judicial troubles upon Franco Franchi. In 1989, Franchi and [actor Mario] Merola were accused of being mafiosi by an informer and suspected of associating with members of the Greco family. The prosecutions were shelved, but the doubts destroyed Franchi morally and physically, and he became gravely ill. He died on December 11, 1992, after appearing in the last episode of [the TV variety show] 'Avanspettacolo' to a moving round of applause.”

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The Ties that Bind

by Bluto Ray

A minor Sicilian mystery was solved last week with the death of Salvatore Cancemi, a former Mafia boss who succumbed to cancer at the age of 69. He had disappeared with the help of the Italian state after making explosive accusations in 1993. His words still resonate in the ongoing investigation of criminal infiltration in politics that reaches as high as Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi. Surprisingly, Cancemi had been living protected in his home town all these years.

Salvatore CancemiHe was part of a Palermo crime family that ran the Porta Nuova neighborhood in the shadow of Sicily’s Parliament building. At the time of his arrest the racketeer and heroin trafficker was believed to be worth $50 million and held a privileged seat on the Mafia Commission headed by godfather Totò Riina.

Cancemi later testified about Riina’s directive to hunt down the families of Mafia turncoats after his campaign of political assassinations: “My hair stood on end when Riina said that he had to kill women and children. He’s a mad dog that caused the Cosa Nostra to abandon all its values.” Cancemi later said, “Children have always been my life.

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