Italy police arrest mafia’s new ‘boss of bosses’ in Sicily

Mafia boss Settimino Mineo was held by police in Palermo after his arrest

The purported jeweller allegedly became the new head of the Cosa Nostra after previous boss Salvatore "Toto" Riina, also known as "the beast" and the "boss of all bosses", died in prison a year ago.

Mineo was named the new "boss of bosses" in May during a rare summit of mafia families, according to Italian media, which calls him a "life-long mobster" who never used mobile phones. Mineo had been elected heir of Toto Riina [ex-capo di capi] after his death.

The Sicilian Mafia, commonly known as the Cosa Nostra, was formed in the 19 century and continues to be involved in various forms of organised crime, ranging from firearm trafficking, racketeering, extortion and armed robbery.

Mineo was sentenced to 5 years in jail for mafia-related crimes at the so-called "maxi-trial" that ran from 1986-1992 and was spearheaded by prosecutors Giovanni Falcone and Paolo Borsellino.

Mineo survived a 1992 ambush that killed his brother Giuseppe, around six months after another brother, Antonino, was murdered outside the family jewelry shop. As the eldest of the local clan leaders, he enjoyed particular respect, he said.

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"He is one of Cosa Nostra's most prestigious leaders, but he is from Castelvetrano, in the province of Trapani, and he does not command the Palermo group", Salvatore De Luca, Palermo's deputy prosecutor, said on Tuesday. "And that despite the convictions, despite the trials, important people can take over the most important roles once they're back in play".

Police arrested jeweler Mineo, 80, and at least 45 others in Sicily just before he was due to be officially anointed at a reconvened Mafia Commission or Cupola, the police said.

After Riina's 1993 arrest, the Sicilian Mafia saw a degree of marginalization compared with the Calabrian-based 'ndrangheta organized crime syndicate or the Neapolitan Camorra. But Italian officials said it continued increasing its financial and business activities.

Italy's Interior Minister Matteo Salvini tweeted that it was "an extraordinary intervention" by the Carabinieri (the paramilitary police), "who have dismantled the new "cupola" of Cosa Nostra".

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