Rival mob bosses laid down their arms as they got together from across southern Italy at one of the nation’s biggest ever mafia weddings.
But as Neapolitan, Calabrian and Sicilian guests tucked into steak and beer at the lavish 12-hour long reception, little did they know that detectives had wiretapped the groom, Sicilian Gioacchino Amico.
His 2021 wedding at the stunning Villa Di Lorenzo near Palermo could have been a union of three mafia bosses of Italy’s biggest mobs, and police realised they had discovered the beginnings of an alliance of criminal gangs.
Amico, 37, had been bugged by detectives investigating this concerning pact, which was focused on increasing organised criminal control in wealthy Milan, in the north of Italy.
The groom reportedly bragged that his wedding reception would be attended by 200 people.
Under observation: Italian detectives wiretapped Gioacchino Amico’s 2021 wedding, which brought together mafia bosses from across the country
But an investigator told The Times that Mafia weddings are not for friendships but to firm up important relationships.
Amico has been accused of being a key player in the criminal alliance, though his bride, Federica Buccafusca, is not suspected of being a mafia figure, according to police.
Last month Amico was arrested as part of Operation Hydra, an investigation by the Carabinieri, Italy’s paramilitary police force, into alleged mafia plans to spend drug money on public contracts and construction in Milan.
The investigator said: ‘Amico is suspected of being a liaison between Cosa Nostra and the other mafias in Milan, so he was really happy about his wedding, which legitimised his central role.
Guests at the wedding included Antonio ‘The Lawyer’ Messina, who is now in prison thanks to his ties to Matteo Messina Denaro, the ‘last godfather’ of the Cosa Nostra, who spent 30 years on the run for murdering 50 people, including a boy dissolved in acid.
He once boasted that he could fill a cemetery with the people he had killed.
Others guests included Giuseppe ‘Ninni’ Fidanzati, representing the Sicilian-based Cosa Nostra’s business interests in Milan, alongside Massimo Rosi, who allegedly has ties to the ‘NDrangheta mafia.
The syndicate is alleged to have a role as a major smuggler of cocaine from Latin America to Europe.
It is also thought to make money from illegal waste trafficking, racketeering and loan sharking, typically offering credit to struggling businesses and then gradually taking control of them.
A view of Villa Di Lorenzo near Palermo, where the lavish mafia wedding took place in 2021
Also present at the wedding was Emanuele ‘Dollarino’ Gregorini, who investigators say has ties to the Neapolitan Senese clan.
Doubt was cast over whether the varying mafia families were forming a super alliance after a judge ruled last month that the number of planned arrests under the wide-sweeping Operation Hydra should be reduced from 154 to just 11.
Guests included Antonio ‘The Lawyer’ Messina, who is in prison after being linked to Matteo Messina Denaro, the ‘last godfather’ of the Cosa Nostra, who spent 30 years on the run
Ruthless Cosa Nostra boss, Matteo Messina Denaro, died of colon cancer this year, aged 61
Around 600 Carabinieri police officers conducted a series of dawn raids, arresting 11 alleged mafia members on a raft of charges, including extortion, illegal possession of firearms and drug-related charges among others.
It is understood more than 225 million euros’ worth of assets were also seized during the raids in October.
One investigator said the judge had misunderstood that even if there were no ‘super-mafia’ and the families remain independent, they are still collaborating with one another.
He said: ‘What they are doing is teaming [up] to invest their profits, and that is what they likely discussed at the wedding.’
‘These weddings provide a justification for men of honour coming together to talk business,’ said Lirio Abbate, a long-time mafia reporter.
The Camorra: Terrifying gang that dates back to the 6th century
The Camorra is based in Campania, centred around Naples.
Like Cosa Nostra and the ‘Ndrangheta’, it is a criminal organization, or secret society that finances itself through criminal activities including drug trafficking and distribution, cigarette smuggling, people smuggling and kidnapping.
Its activities have led to high levels of murder in the areas in which it operates. It is the oldest and largest criminal organization in Italy.
It is older than the other organisations, possibly having been founded as early as the 16th century. The name originated as a blend between the word ‘Capo’ meaning boss, and ‘Morra’ which was a gambling game played on the streets of Naples.
When the game was banned, the ‘Camoristi’ earned money from ‘protecting’ the gamblers from passing policemen.
Unlike Cosa Nostra, individual Camorra clans act independently of each other, and are more prone to feuding among themselves. This however makes the Camorra more resilient when top leaders are arrested or killed, with new clans and organizations germinating out of the stumps of old ones.
As one clan boss told a court: ‘Campania can get worse because you could cut into a Camorra group, but another ten could emerge from it.’
Source: Understanding Italy
The crime syndicate originates from Calabria, the impoverished southern region at the tip of Italy’s boot. The name is believed to come from the ancient Greek words andros and agathos, meaning brave or valiant man.
They expanded substantially from the 1970s. During this time, one of its main activities was perpetrating kidnappings and reinvesting ransom money into public work projects and drug trafficking, especially cocaine.
The ‘Ndrangheta kidnapped dozens of high-profile victims, including celebrities such as John Paul Getty III, the heir to US oil family. He was abducted off the streets of Rome in 1973 and held prisoner for five months in the Calabrian mountains.
The syndicate cut off Getty’s right ear in a desperate attempt to get his family to pay the reported £2.1m ransom. His harrowing story was later recounted in Ridley Scott’s film All the Money in the World and in the Danny Boyle TV series Trust.
Italian research group Eurispes valued the ‘Ndrangheta’s annual turnover in 2008 at an astounding €44 billion euros (£38,32 billion), about 3 per cent of Italy’s gross domestic product at the time. They have reportedly expanded to more than 40 countries worldwide and continue to grow at a steady rate.
The syndicate is alleged to have a role as a major smuggler of cocaine from Latin America to Europe. It is also thought to make money from illegal waste trafficking, racketeering and loan sharking, typically offering credit to struggling businesses and then gradually taking control of them.
Millions of euros are spent in an effort to disrupt the numerous global networks of the notorious ‘Ndrangheta mafia. Recent operations against the syndicate include the pan-European operation Eureka. This led to a raid in early May that saw more than 100 arrests and alleged that mobsters used Chinese money brokers .
In 2021, Italian authorities made domestic progress against the ‘Ndrangheta arresting more than 320 suspected mobsters and associates and convicting 70 of them up to 20 years.
The syndicate is no stranger to violence. They made headlines in 2007, when six men were shot outside a pizzeria in the western city of Duisburg, Germany as part of a long-running war between rival mafia clans.
The notorious San Luca feud between the Pelle-Vottari and Nirta-Strangio families started with a carnival prank in 1991 that prompted a string of killings, including the 2006 Christmas Day execution of the wife of a Strangio family mobster. Notorious mobster Santo Vottari was sentenced in 2017 to 10 years two years after he went on the run for the killings.
The ‘Ndrangheta were also held accountable for the murder of Italian mother Maria Chindamo. The mother of three disappeared from her farm in Calabria in southern Italy in May 2016 after she refused offers to buy her land made by the mafia. It later emerged she was murdered and her body fed to pigs by a ‘Ndrangheta mobster.
The Cosa Nostra: The real-life Sicilian crime syndicate depicted in the Godfather
Cosa Nostra, the real-life Sicilian crime syndicate depicted in the Godfather movies, is made up of a coalition of criminal organisations – called ‘families’ or ‘clans’. The term Cosa Nostra, translates to Our Thing in English.
The history of the Sicilian Mafia can be traced back to the late 19th century in western Sicily – the largest and most populous island in the Mediterranean Sea. There the mafia frontmen and bosses established their influence in the region.
One of the major factors that led to the creation of Cosa Nostra was Gabellotto’s (a person who rented farmland for short-term use). Their control over landlord-farmer relationships gave rise to powerful mafia bosses in Sicily.
The Italian State, in its quest to maintain control, inadvertently supported the growth of this secret society by relying on the expertise of the Mafiosi who were familiar with the local environment.
The Allies’ invasion of Sicily in 1943 also had a profound impact on the Mafia, as it led to the sacking of fascist officials and the appointment of many previously imprisoned Mafiosi to positions of authority. This allowed the Mafia to expand its criminal activities beyond the island, engaging in protection racketeering, mediating conflicts between criminals, and facilitating illicit agreements and transactions.
It is understood the Mafia’s influence in Sicily extended to politics with some political parties like Forza Italia being accused of having connections with the Cosa Nostra. The close relationship between the mafia and politics in Sicily has significantly shaped the island’s history and development.
One of their most infamous and ruthless mafia bosses, Matteo Messina Denaro, died of colon cancer in January 2023, aged 61.
Denaro, who was dubbed the ‘last godfather’ of the Cosa Nostra and ‘The Devil’, spent 30 years on the run for murdering 50, including a boy dissolved in acid.
He was forced into hiding after he ordered a series of deadly attacks, including the murders of anti-mafia prosecutors Giovanni Falcone and Paolo Borsellino, as well as a series of car bombs in Florence, Milan and Rome that left 10 people dead and 93 injured in 1993.
And children were not off limits. In the same year, ‘The Devil’ helped organise the kidnapping of a 12-year-old boy, Giuseppe Di Matteo, in an attempt to dissuade his father from giving evidence against the mafia.
The boy was held in captivity for two years before he was brutally strangled to death and his body dissolved in acid.
Source: | This article originally belongs to Dailymail.co.uk