Italian police have arrested new Cosa Nostra boss Settimino Mineo and dozens of other suspects in a major operation, officials said today.
Police arrested 80-year-old Mineo in Palermo, Sicily just before he was due to be officially anointed at a reconvened Mafia Commission, or Cupola, police said.
45 other suspects are being held on charges of extortion, illegal gun possession, arson, Mafia association and other crimes, investigators said.
Settimino Mineo being escorted by carabinieri as he left a police station today. Photo: Alessandro Fucarini/AFP
The Sicilian Mafia had managed to rebuild the Cupola after it had not met for years, Italian media reported – which was taken as a sign that the Sicilian clans had chosen to return to the structure of the past.
The Cupola met in May for the first time since 1993 and was due to appoint Mineo official heir to notorious Mafia boss Toto Riina who died in prison last year.
Police also arrested three other Cupola members in the swoop. The four senior Mafia leaders had all recently served prison time for their activities.
A police video shared by Italian media showed the scale of yesterday’s anti-mafia operation.
Italian media reported that police obtained crucial information by tapping the phone of one of the senior arrested members, Francesco Colletti.
He reportedly told his driver about details of the May 29 Cupola meeting, describing it as “a beautiful meeting, very serious, with country people, old people.”
It remains a mystery where the Cupola meeting took place, but Colletti's conversation with his driver implicated Mineo and others.
Colletti reportedly rejoiced in the resurrected Cupola, which was to be an improvement on Riina's “tyranny”.
“We all got up and kissed,” Colletti reportedly said of the end of the meeting.
Lifelong Mafia member Mineo was arrested as part of investigations by judge and prosecutor Giovanni Falcone in 1984 and imprisoned for five years.
Mineo was rearrested in 2006 and imprisoned for another 11 years.
Mineo survived a 1992 ambush that killed his brother Giuseppe, around six months after another brother, Antonino, was murdered outside the family.
“Police in Palermo have arrested 46 members of the mafia. They had replaced Totò Riina with Settimo Mineo to revive Cosa Nostra, but the state won. They will never give up – us neither!” wrote Nicola Morra, president of the Parliamentary Anti-Mafia Commission, on Twitter.
La #DDAPalermo ha arrestato 46 persone per #Mafia.
Avevano sostituito #TotòRiina con #SettimoMineo per far rinascere la #cupola di #CosaNostra, ma lo #StatoHaVinto.
Loro non si arrenderanno mai, noi neppure!https://t.co/YKN0zDWdRz
— Nicola Morra (@NicolaMorra63) December 4, 2018
Meanwhile, Palermo’s local government decided yesterday to rename roads, streets and squares in honour of 48 victims of mafia on the island.