The criminal careers of 10 bosses who marked the history of the mafia in Italy and America

2022-12-01 19:17:57Histori SHKRUAR NGA REDAKSIA VOX
The criminal careers of 10 bosses who marked the history of the mafia in Italy and America

There have been many bosses who, like Salvatore Riina, have created mafia domes, but few have managed to strike at the heart of the institutions as he did. The Italian magazine "Focus" brings a list of bosses who write the bloody history of the mafia, from Italy to America.


The Palermo boss is weighed down by many murders, in addition to those of Prefect Carlo Alberto Dalla Chiesa (1982) and the attacks of Capaci (May 1992) and Via Amelio (July 1992): where Giovanni Falcone and Paolo Borsellino were killed. Arrested in 1993, Totò, called "'u curtu'" because he was only 158 cm tall, was sentenced to multiple life sentences. He died in prison. The methods he used to bring his clan to the top of Cosa Nostra were the same as those used by his "spiritual fathers", many of whom had died without serving a single day in prison.


"Fateci vagnari 'u pizzu" – "wet our beak": this was the way the mobsters demanded money from merchants at the beginning of the last century. It was Vito Cascio Ferro (1862-1943), one of the first big Sicilian bosses, who made extortion a business which was then exported to America. Born in Palermo, in the few years he spent in New York he consolidated relations with criminality across the ocean and became tainted with the macabre "barrel crime" (where he brought, cut to pieces, a fraudster who wanted to do business in the territory his). He was arrested a total of 69 times, but the seventieth arrest was fatal: in 1930 the iron prefect Cesare Mori sentenced him to life imprisonment. Cascio Ferro died forgotten in prison in Pozzuoli, without food or water, during the 1943 evacuation.


At the age of 19, Salvatore Lucania (1897-1962) changed his name to Charlie Luciano. "Lucky" came after surviving a mob kidnapping in New York, which left a mark on his face and nickname. Originally from Lercara Friddi (Padua), after eliminating the rival Joe Masseria became the boss of the Genovese family (and Time magazine put him on the list of the 20 most influential men of the 20th century). In 1936 he was arrested in the United States and sentenced to 50 years in prison. He was released from prison 10 years later: according to some historians he won his freedom and a right of departure for Italy, working with the Americans to favor the Allied landings in Sicily in 1943.


More than a mob boss, he was a gangster and ended up becoming a symbol of Italian-American crime. The son of immigrants from Campania, Alphonse Gabriel Capone (1899-1947), named Al, was born in Brooklyn. At a young age he received a knife wound mark on his cheek (hence the nickname Man with the Mark), for defending his sister's honor. After moving to Chicago, he was declared "Public Enemy No. 1", but it took 9 incorruptible agents (The Untouchables, portrayed in the 1987 film by Brian De Palma) to arrest him. He was sentenced in 1931 to 11 years in prison, but for tax evasion.


It was one of the many immigrants, Carlo Gambino (1902-1976), when he came to New York from Sicily at the age of 19. But in half a century of criminal activity, he founded, in the late 1950s, one of the most powerful families in New York: the Gambinos. Without much exposure, attached to the more traditional values ??of the mafia, he made cunning his weapon (but did not hold back when it came to killing opponents). With his "old" style, he became one of the models for the character of Vito Corleone in the film The Godfather (Francis Ford Coppola, 1972). He died of a heart attack while watching a baseball game on TV.


Not everyone can have a Time magazine cover all to themselves, like the one Andy Warhol designed in 1986 for John Gotti (1940-2002), the boss of the New York Gambino family who was tried for his predecessor's murder his Paul Castellano. Beneath the man of the world, Gotti was a ruthless killer and a major drug trafficker. Called the "teflon don" because of his ability to evade charges, he escaped any trial until, in 1992, his right-hand man betrayed him.


Pizza and the mafia: from this point of view Gaetano Badalamenti (1923-2004) was a typical Italian. The head of the Cinisi (Palermo) mafia, don Tani was one of the most powerful exponents of Cosa Nostra, sentenced in 1987 in the USA to 45 years in prison, for the so-called "pizza connection" (from the name of the investigation). From 1975 to 1984 Badalamenti managed an international traffic of heroin and cocaine, between Palermo and the USA. The distribution took place in the back of some Italian pizzerias in America, where the drugs came hidden among the typical Italian products. The death of Pepino Impastatos (1978), an anti-mafia activist who ridiculed the activities of "Tano sedutos" from the microphones of radio Aut, is also connected with his name. For this murder, Badalamenti was sentenced to life imprisonment in 2002.


A confused journalist, in a local American newspaper, changed his name to Joe Bananas: that nickname remained, but Joe Bonanno (1905-2002) became the founder of a New York mafia family. Originally from Castellammare del Golfo (Trapani), in 1931, at the age of 26, he became America's youngest mafia boss. He had a penchant for business (illegal, but not only), and among his activities were funerals. And not by chance: he used the "double coffin" method to hide the victims of his killers under those of the legitimate "owners". In 1983 he wrote, under a pseudonym, an autobiographical book, but ... convinced that the picture on its cover presented him as a five-lek gangster, denounced his publisher.


Joseph Valachi (1903-1971) was the first great penitent, the one who spoke publicly about the existence of the mafia and defined it with the term "Cosa Nostra". Born in Romania, he lived in New York in direct contact with the power of Cosa Nostra (he was the driver of Gaetano Reinas, powerful clan of Joe Masseria) and participated in the Mafia War instigated by Joe Masseria, Vito Genovese and Lucky Luciano against Neapolitan rivals. His confessions helped reconstruct the organizational chart of the mafia organization and better understand the rules governing the mafia. He died of a heart attack after a suicide attempt (1971): his story inspired the character of Frankie Pentangeli in The Godfather II (Francis Ford Coppola, 1974).


In America they called him Joe Masseria (1886-1931), or Joe the boss, but his real name was Giuseppe Masseria. Originally from Castellammare del Golfo, in the province of Trapani, at the age of 43, he earned a worthy name, something like "the man who could dodge bullets", due to an ambush from which he miraculously escaped unscathed and with two lead hole in straw hat. Since 1920 he commanded the Morello gang, one of the most powerful clans in New York. His assassination in 1931 was ordered by boss Lucky Luciano during the Italian-American leadership conflict fought in New York between the Maranzanos and the Masserias.