Ratted on by fellow wise guys and hounded by police, struggling American Mafiosi are recruiting Sicilian mobsters, believing that hardheaded gangsters from the island are more likely to keep their mouths shut, US and Italian organized-crime officials say.
Authorities worry that the Sicilian Mafia -- known in the past for gunning down police and blowing up judges -- might also send this approach to the modern US Mafia.
Top FBI officials discussed these developments with the Italian parliament's anti-Mafia commission at a recent briefing in Washington. Elements of the talks were revealed this week to The Associated Press.
"This type of phenomenon was born when the American authorities' actions became much stronger and more effective, which in recent years reached a crescendo in Chicago, Philadelphia and New York. These are the areas where the families move to recruit in Sicily," the anti-Mafia commission chief Senator Roberto Centaro said in an interview.
A top Sicilian Mafia turncoat discussed this recruitment to police, and his claims were confirmed in US and Italian wiretaps, said Centaro, whose Italian delegation met last week with top US law enforcement officials in New York and Washington.
Matthew Heron, assistant special agent in charge of the organized-crime branch in the FBI's New York office, said the combination of convictions and turncoats had led to "a leadership vacuum" in some crime gangs, citing the Bonannos and the New York faction of the DeCavalcante family.
"They have reached out toward Sicily to bring some people over to fill some gaps, with part of that rationale being the thought that the Sicilians are much more inclined to maintain the sacred vow of silence," he said in a phone interview from New York.
Heron noted that La Cosa Nostra in America has always avoided going after US law enforcement. "From what we've been told, that's not necessarily the case with the Sicilians."
In a further US-Sicilian tie, American mobsters are believed to be sending their local recruits to the island for lessons in thuggery. A top Sicilian turncoat recently spoke of this to police.
"They send them here to Sicily to make them become men of honor, to make them do training, because in America there's this attack on the values -- there's no respect anymore," mobster Antonino Giuffre told investigators, according to remarks published last week by the ANSA news agency. "The American Mafia is different and it needs some of our qualities."
"Every now and then, they'll send someone whose origins are in these areas so they can do a bit of Mafia lessons," chief Palermo prosecutor Piero Grasso said.
Sicilian gangsters infiltrated the US among the waves of immigrants who arrived at the end of the 19th century and the early 20th century.
After World War II, some were deported back to Sicily, where they are believed to have helped strengthen the local clans, which had been decimated during Mussolini's Fascist regime.
"The Sicilian and American groups have affected each other reciprocally according to circumstances," said Professor Salvatore Lupo, a Mafia expert at the University of Palermo. "They have a common heritage. But from what we know, they're not the same thing."
By the 1960s if not earlier, they were distinct organizations, but due to family ties and business interests they often linked up.
US and Italian prosecutors discovered in the 1980s during a case dubbed "The Pizza Connection" that the Sicilian Mafia was involved in a massive drug ring in America in cooperation with the US mob.
La Cosa Nostra in the US avoided attacking police, prosecutors or judges, trying to keep out of the public eye. However, the Sicilian Mafia of the 1980s and early '90s launched what is known here as "the massacre strategy," murdering anyone brave enough to oppose it.
This culminated in the 1992 slayings of two nationally admired Sicilian prosecutors, Giovanni Falcone and Paolo Borsellino, both of whom were killed in huge bomb blasts. Italians were outraged and a major crackdown followed.
The onset of summer has sparked a rise in incidents of “mask rage” in South Korea as more hot and bothered commuters either refuse to wear face coverings or leave parts of their faces exposed. In South Korea, Japan and other countries in East Asia, widespread mask wearing has been cited as one possible explanation for the region’s relative success in bringing the COVID-19 pandemic under control. South Korea, one of the first countries outside China to be affected by the virus, flattened the coronavirus curve in April, although it is now struggling with dozens of daily cases, mainly in and around
‘WOULD NOT COMPLY’: The company’s user data are kept in Singapore and it would not turn the data over to Beijing even if asked, TikTok chief executive Kevin Mayer said Social media app TikTok has distanced itself from Beijing after India banned 59 Chinese apps in the country, according to a correspondence seen by Reuters. In a letter to the Indian government dated on Sunday last week and seen by Reuters on Friday, TikTok chief executive Kevin Mayer said the Chinese government has never requested user data, nor would the company turn it over if asked. TikTok, which is not available in China, is owned by China’s ByteDance, but has sought to distance itself from its Chinese roots to appeal to a global audience. Along with 58 other Chinese apps, including Tencent
‘FIGHT FOR FREEDOM’: Hong Kongers will never bow to Beijing, the advocate said, while the US’ envoy to the territory called China’s new security law a ‘tragedy’ The world must stand in solidarity with Hong Kongers after Beijing imposed sweeping national security legislation on the semi-autonomous territory, advocate Joshua Wong (黃之鋒) said yesterday, vowing to continue campaigning for democracy. Wong, one of the territory’s most prominent young advocates and a figure loathed by Beijing, was speaking outside a court where he and fellow advocates are being prosecuted for involvement in last year’s pro-democracy protests. China last week enacted sweeping security legislation for the restless territory, banning acts of subversion, secession, terrorism and collusion with foreign forces. The legislation has sent a wave of fear through the territory, and criminalized dissenting
CHANGING PERCEPTIONS: In its tender, the Hong Kong administration said that it had failed to ‘mobilise the community to support law enforcement actions’ The Hong Kong government has agreed to pay millions of pounds to a discreet London-based PR firm to counter coverage of the territory in the international media. Consulum, which has also represented Saudi Arabian Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, was on Monday awarded the ￡5 million (US$6.2 million) one-year contract to improve Hong Kong’s reputation — the same day that China passed national security legislation targeting the territory. The Mayfair-based PR business was founded by Tim Ryan and Matthew Gunther Bushell, two former employees of Bell Pottinger, an agency that has been criticized for representing some governments and leaders that other businesses