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Entries in Porto Empedocle (1)

Thursday
Mar312011

Hit and Miss

by Bluto Ray

In the mid-1980s, the “excellent cadavers” were starting to pile up. Investigative judge Carlo Palermo had already lost two distinguished colleagues to Mafia assassins: Colonel Giuseppe Russo and Judge Giangiacomo Montalto. Palermo took on the cartels while stationed in the northern Italian city of Trento. There he uncovered a vast international drug and arms operation that sparked a bribery scandal in Parliament.

Barbara Rizzo AstaCertain higher powers apparently found the dedicated servant to be a little too efficient: all of his investigations were ordered closed. Frustrated, Palermo transferred to the Sicilian port city of Trapani to take the place of the murdered Judge Montalto.

Certainly nobody else wanted the job in the Mafia infested region. In those days, the hilly northwest region of the island hid a number of factories busily refining Turkish heroin for the American market. The 38-year-old judge arrived with a list of thirty or so mafiosi he had connected to trafficking and other crimes. It took only two weeks for the Mafia to throw him a welcoming party.

On the morning of April 2, 1985, Judge Palermo was being whisked down the coastal highway from a military base to his Trapani office in an armored Fiat 132. Following close behind were his bodyguards in an unprotected Fiat Ritmo. Waiting for the tiny entourage was a Volkswagen Golf parked by the side of the road in the beach town of Pizzolungo. It was empty except for the nearly fifty pounds of dynamite inside set to detonate by remote control.

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