Cosa Nostra's new boss of bosses arrested

Photo: EPA Mineo (C) is escorted by Carabinieri officers after his arrest in Palermo on 4 December.

Italian police have arrested on Tuesday the suspected new head of the Sicilian mafia and 45 other alleged mobsters in a major blow to organised crime on the Mediterranean island, the government announced. Among those arrested was Settimo Mineo, an 80-year-old jeweller suspected of heading local mafia families in the Sicilian capital Palermo and of being promoted to lead the whole crime group in May.

"The arrests ... represent one of the biggest blows inflicted on the mafia by the state. Mineo had been elected 'heir' of Toto Riina after his death," Deputy PM Luigi Di Maio wrote on Instagram. The previous boss of bosses, Salvatore "Toto" Riina, died in prison last year after spending almost a quarter of a century behind bars for ordering dozens of murders, including those of two of Italy's most celebrated anti-mob prosecutors Giovanni Falcone and Paolo Borsellino.

A police source said Mineo was elected boss at a meeting of provincial leaders of the Sicilian mafia on 29 May. It was believed to be the first such gathering of mob families for more than 25 years. The world's most famous crime gang has been squeezed over the past two decades, with many bosses put behind bars, businesses sequestered and locals increasingly ready to defy it. The meeting in May of the Cosa Nostra cupola, or hierarchy, was seen by investigators as a sign the group was looking to rebuild.


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