100-year-old murder of anti-mafia officer Joseph Petrosino solved by Italian police

Authorities in Palermo, Sicily, had made 95 arrests relating to extortion and money laundering when they stumbled across the truth

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The Independent Online

The murder of an anti-mafia policeman in 1909 had remained unsolved until dozens of arrests in Palermo, Sicily, this week seems to have dragged up the truth.

Italian police arrested 95 people on Monday following a two-year investigation into historic mafia organisations. The charges relate to extortion, money laundering and drug trafficking.

However one of those taken for police questionings, Domenico Palazzotto, 33, began bragging about how one of his family members had killed Italian-American New York policeman Joseph Petrosino.

 “My father's uncle, whose name was Paolo Palazzotto ... was the first to kill a cop in Palermo ... Joe Petrosino, an American cop,” he admits while wiretapped, Reuters reports. “We have been mobsters for 100 years,” he adds.

Lieutenant Giuseppe “Joe” Petrosino had gone to Palermo on a mission to gather more evidence to help the arrest and deportation of mafia criminals in America, but he was gunned down as soon as he got there.

He had been led to public square Piazza Marina under the false pretences of meeting an informant, but was assassinated on the orders of prominent Mafioso Vito Cascio Ferro.

Details of Petrosino’s visit to Italy had been leaked to the American press and published prior to his arrival. He was an Italian national who had emigrated to the US as a youngster.

His murder was considered one of the great unsolved mysteries… until this week.

Police named the huge operation Apocalypse, raiding in on two Cosa Nostra families in the west of the Sicilian capital Palermo.

“There hasn't been a dragnet on this scale in many years,” finance police Colonel Calogero Scibetta said. “These arrests have wiped out two entire mob families.”