In the previous post we explained how by the middle of the 1960s, the first mafia war had led to a massive police crackdown resulting in the virtual dismantling of the Sicilian mafia. The Sicilian Mafia Commission was dissolved, hundreds were jailed and many members fled overseas.
It was not until 1969 the the Commission was set up once more and the landscape once again became more favourable for mafia activities. Cigarette smuggling into Naples and the setting up of large scale heroin manufacture and distribution networks proved extremely profitable for the Sicilians.
However the 1970s and the early 1980s was also the background for the second mafia war.
Luciano Leggio, boss of the Corleon clan and member of the Commission, made it his ambition to control the entire Sicilian mafia by controlling the Commission. After being jailed in 1974, his deputy, Salvatore Rina, took over this task and continued to use bribery and subversion to increase his clan’s power. Eventually they crossed the line and a rival Commission member, Stefano Bontade, was murdered in 1981, precipitating the war.
Rina and the Corleon clan were brutal in their prosecution of this war and it ended with the Corleonesi completely dominating Sicily, the Commission and the lucrative heroin trade. They were also renowned for executing previously untargeted groups such as journalists, police officers and judges.
This campaign against non-mafioso led to another government crackdown and two
magistrates – Giovanni Falcone and Paolo Borsellino – were tasked with the job of bringing down the mafia. Their breakthrough was the testimony of a former mafioso, Tommaso Buscetta, who agreed to testify against the Corleonesi. The famous Maxi Trial also featured other mafia members, encouraged by Buscetta’s stance.
The result was that in December 1987, 342 mafioso were convicted and jailed. However this time the mafia did not decline as before – the reaction was extremely violent – relatives of whistle-blowers were murdered, the two magistrates were killed in bomb attacks, tourist spots on the Italian mainland were attacked and even an anti-mafia priest was killed.
Part Seven follows…….