Monday, October 24, 2005

Major Mafia Boss Arrested

Friends of ours: Umberto Di Fazio, Bernardo Provenzano, Salvatore "Toto" Riina

Italian carabinieri military police on Sunday arrested a major Sicilian Mafia boss who had been on the run for five years, police said. They said Umberto Di Fazio, 42, considered to be the leader of the Cosa Nostra's notorious Santapaola clan, was captured near Enna, a mountaintop town in the center of the island.

Di Fazio, whose "family" dominated Catania, the main city on Sicily's east coast, was wanted for extortion and murder and international warrants had been issued for his arrest. He took over leadership of the clan after the 1993 arrest of Nitto Santapaolo, known as "The Hunter", and once the undisputed Mafia boss in Catania.

Di Fazio's arrest came two days after Italy's new national anti-Mafia prosecutor, Pietro Grasso, caused a storm by saying Bernardo Provenzano, the top Mafia chief who has been a fugitive for four decades, had been protected by politicians and policemen.

Until his appointment earlier this month, Grasso was for years the chief anti-Mafia investigator in the Sicilian capital Palermo, and often expressed frustration over the failure to capture Provenzano.

Provenzano, 71, once nicknamed "Binu the tractor" because of the way he would mow down his opponents, has managed to run the crime group like a phantom.

Provenzano, a native of Corleone -- a town made famous in "The Godfather" films -- assumed control of the Mafia after the state scored major arrests against the mob in the early 1990s, including that of top boss Salvatore "Toto" Riina in 1993.

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