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.
He 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.