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Entries in Montelepre (2)


It’s the Cheese: Why We Love Our Mafia Shin-Deep in Sheep Dip

The ingredient that gives Mafia news that old-world flavor

by Carl Russo

I CAN TELL A CERTAIN news item about the Italian Mafia has gone really big as soon as friends and relatives start sending me the media links. Often these reports of arrests, attacks, and assassinations come with an exotic flair that conforms to our stereotypical view of the mob. Without a touch of the Hollywood—secret initiation rites, a bullet between the eyes—the news doesn’t travel beyond Italy. But when there’s an element of food involved, especially cheese, the story sprouts legs and takes off running.

“I’ve put the ricotta aside for you,” was the opening quote in several news articles about the media-dubbed “Mafia sheep code” that went viral this month. That statement and similar ciphers, recorded by police wiretaps, were made by a pair of Sicilian sheep grazers whenever a message from fugitive godfather Matteo Messina Denaro was ready for pickup. The two shepherds and nine other accomplices were arrested on August 3, the culmination of a five-year investigation and the latest roundup in actions that have bagged the capomafia’s sister, cousin and various in-laws.

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Dead or Alive

by Bluto Ray

Salvatore Giuliano

Mafia Exposed’s inaugural blog post concerns one of the Mafia’s most enduring mysteries, the life and death of Salvatore Giuliano. He is commonly referred to as Sicily’s most famous bandit, but in his home town of Montelepre, many still regard him as a hero sixty years after his death.

Giuliano’s early career as a wartime black marketer led to deadly confrontations with carabinieri forces, so he took to the foggy mountains around Montelepre with a gang recruited from the dirt-poor field workers and army deserters of the impoverished region. This is the point at which opinions about dashing young “Turiddu,” as he was called, divide.

Turiddu epitomizes the idea that one man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter. Reporters from around the world descended on tiny Montelepre in hopes of scooping an interview with the Sicilian Robin Hood famed for his daring robberies and romantic peccadilloes. But his involvement with a radical separatist group eager to see Sicily made into United States territory led to a murderous bombing campaign against the police.

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