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Entries in Trappeto (2)


Last Days of the Lo Piccolos, part 2

The rise and fall of a father-and-son Mafia team

by Carl Russo

[This two-part article is a prequel to the chapters about the Lo Piccolo crime family in my book, The Sicilian Mafia: A True Crime Travel Guide. Read part one.]

Sandro Lo PiccoloA STRAIGHT LINE can be drawn across metropolitan Palermo starting in the gloomy slums of the San Lorenzo district and ending at the sunny fishing village of Sferracavallo—a cross-section of the Lo Piccolos’ dominion. The delinquent young men recruited from the projects made willing foot soldiers in the rackets that financed Salvatore and Sandro’s extravagant lifestyle.

Everyone along the line paid the Lo Piccolos the pizzo, and not just the small shopkeepers. Protection payments were collected from construction companies, gas stations and discotheques. Drug profits from the bosses’ network of traffickers were laundered through gaming rooms, supermarkets and even state railroad expansion.

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Bigger Than the Mafia

by Bluto Ray

The poet from the north returned to Trappeto because he was haunted by memories. Haunted by images of emaciated children dying while government officials grew fat, images of people subsisting on beans and insects and wild greens, fathers forced into banditry to feed their families. He was incensed by the Mafia's feudal control of farms and water irrigation in a land where “sewer” didn’t exist in the local dialect.

Danilo DolciWhen Danilo Dolci stepped off the train in 1952, he was ready, as a peasant who knew him wrote, “to share the life of the poor.” As a teen he had seen these things while visiting his father who was posted as Trappeto’s wartime stationmaster. And now, at age twenty-eight, he was back to help.

Dolci arrived with five cents to his name but rich in experience. Though violently abused by his father as a youth, the wide-eyed poet grew up to be a full-time activist and committed pacifist. He cared for orphans in the north under the tutelage of a priest whose social work rankled the right-wing Church of the postwar years. His credo: “Participate in order to understand.”

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