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Entries in Mauro Rostagno (2)

Wednesday
Apr172013

News Muse 4.17.13

by Carl Russo

The Muse has struck again! My keyboard is a bloody mess as I bang out the last sections of my book, The Sicilian Mafia: A True Crime Travel Guide. Part of my burden is to keep up with Cosa Nostra’s never-ending news and update my manuscript accordingly. A few items have popped up recently that beg a quick comment.

Michele AielloLike the largest confiscation of Mafia booty in Italy since…ever! As Sicilians suffer some of the highest unemployment rates in the European Union, a bank-busting $1.7 billion worth of dirty assets were seized from Vito Nicastro, “the Lord of the Wind.” A frontman for gone-with-the-wind fugitive boss Matteo Messina Denaro, Mr. Nicastro is said to have laundered Mafia money mostly through wind and solar farms in Trapani province, reaping the green from “green energy.”

And after the authorities made the confiscations, what did they do with Nicastro? Throw him in jail pending a trial? Nah. They suggested he stick around his home city of Alcamo, which, if you’ve ever been there, you’ll say is a bit harsh. Unless it’s Alcamo Marina, a separate resort town with nice homes and white beaches and probably where the bastard lives.

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Thursday
Dec232010

Honor Guard

by Bluto Ray

Christmas is a sad time of year in Palma, a dusty little crossroads near the salt fields of Sicily’s northwest coast. On December 23, 1995, prison guard Giuseppe Montalto was murdered at the age of thirty. But it didn’t happen in the stone labyrinth of Ucciardone, Palermo’s prison as old as the Mafia itself. Montalto was cut down in faraway Palma, mere inches from his wife and baby daughter.

Giuseppe MontaltoMontalto worked the cellblock that held the Cosa Nostra’s most dangerous bosses. Sentenced under Article 41-bis, Italy’s tough antimafia measure enacted in 1992, the men were furious. 41-bis restricts nearly all contact with the outside world, ending the old tradition of running illicit businesses from behind bars. In Ucciardone, communication was limited to pizzini.

The use of pizzini--tiny notes folded to fit between the fingers--is the Mafia’s underground postal system of passing notes from hand to hand. These primitive “tweets” are more reliable than conversations that can be overheard or recorded. But not reliable enough to get past guard Montalto, who intercepted the pizzini of three bosses intended for Nitto Santapaola, eastern Sicily’s most powerful capomafia.

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