It's the biggest mafia haul since the days of the "Pizza Connection". Striking the bosses from Palermo and New York, the Inzerillo 'family' and the Gambino 'family' these 90 arrests represent a simultaneous attack on 'Cosa Nostrà on both sides of the Atlantic. An attack on an organization that was becoming once again a force on the world stage of international trafficking.
Last night the heirs of the historical Sicilian and American 'Dons' were arrested. Thirty of them were captured in the districts of Palermo at Passo di Rigano, Boccadifalco and Cruillas, they were captured in the villages of Torretta and Carini. The others were taken away in Cheery Hill Brooklyn. It's an operation which the FBI and Italian police codenamed "Old Bridge"
This 'haul' is still only the beginning of a vast anti crime initiative put into action by authorities in Italy and the USA, the first of a series of assaults against the "Cosa Nostra" 'families' in New York.
It's just two years since investigators started to track down the American Godfathers and allies of the Inzerillo, Mannino, Di Maggio and Gambino families. They followed them day after day, listened to their conversations with microphones and filmed their movements. They discovered their companies and their business arrangements. Above all, they uncovered a pact between Sicilians and Americans after more than two decades of mafia domination by the Corleonesi family. Indeed it was a strategy of rebuilding of Cosa Nostra harking back to the 'old' days. This is how the criminal bands were seeking to create new opportunities and new markets after the era of Toto Riina. And this is how the 'escapees' - or mafia runaways from the wars between bands of the eighties - wished to reconquer territory. They had returned to their old districts in Palermo. And they were ready to take back everything.
The names that have slipped into the hands of Italian and F. B. I. police investigators are big ones; custody warrants were signed by the Palermo Prosecutors Giuseppe Pignatone, Maurizio di Lucia, Domenico Gozo, Roberta Buzzolani, Michele Prestipino, Nino Di Matteo and Guido Lo Forte. More arrest warrants were ordered by the District Prosecutor of New York.
The name at the top of the list is Francesco Paolo Augusto Calì, better known as 'Frank' or 'Franky Boy'. He is considered to be the American 'ambassador' of Cosa Nostra to Sicily with the task of tidying up relations with the families of Palermo. Right back from the beginning of 2003 many Sicilian mafia bosses have flown from Italy to New York to meet him, to do business, and to keep Franky Boy up to date on Sicilian affairs.
For more than ten years Franky Boy has been a 'wise guy', or man of honour, of the Gambino 'family'.
The FBI has two informers - Frank Fappiano and Michael Di Leonardo - who have revealed to the American police all of Frank Cali's activities inside the Gambino organization of America.
"Frank is our friend and he is everything over there" Gianni Nicchi confided to his district boss Antonio Rotolo. Nicchi is one of the Sicilian 'men of honour' who went back and forth between Palermo and the U. S. to traffic narcotics. His reference to 'and everything over therè is a clear admission that it was Frank who commanded in New York.