Three people linked to Milan’s underworld have been murdered over the past week, shining a spotlight on the spread of organised crime from the south to the north of Italy.
The assassination of the mobster Pasquale Tatone, 54, on Wednesday evening followed the murder of his brother Emanuele, 52, whose body was found on Sunday along with that of his driver Paolo Simone. Pasquale Tatone was thought to control the drugs trade in the Oggiaro district of the city.
All three were shot dead in what investigators believe to be gangland killings. In the most recent murder, Pasquale Tatone left a local pizzeria at around 10.45pm on Wednesday evening. When he got into his car, a man on a scooter shot him three times in the head and chest.
Mr Tatone apparently felt confident enough to travel alone at night despite the killing just days earlier of his brother. The press has speculated that he may have underestimated the significance of that killing because his brother was a known drug addict who had fallen out of favour. Instead the earlier killing now appears to have been a warning of what was to come.
Investigators fear the violence may herald more tit-for-tat killings, although one official, Milan’s chief of police Luigi Savina, has said he does not believe the murders signal a turf war between rival groups. “We are not in the midst of a battle between clans. I think from the investigations we can exclude this theory,” he said.
But newspapers, including La Repubblica, have reported investigators’ suspicions that someone or some group wanted to eliminate the Tatone family, which has controlled the lucrative drug trade in the area for many years.
The family, under the tutelage of the murdered Tatone brothers’ mother Rosa Famiano – dubbed the “Heroine Granny” – moved to Milan in 1972, from the Camorra heartland of Caserta, near Naples.
The triple murder this week reinforced fears expressed by anti-mafia campaigners that the mob is now entrenched in northern Italy. Earlier this month, Sedriano, on the outskirts of Milan, became the first town in the Lombardy region to have its council dissolved for mafia infiltration.
Police said the Calabria-based ’Ndrangheta crime group had “profoundly polluted” its local government.
Former Sedriano mayor Alfredo Celeste, from ex-premier Silvio Berlusconi’s People of Freedom (PdL) party, has been accused of ’Ndrangheta links, along with the former Lombardy regional councillor Domenico Zambetti, who was arrested a year ago. ’Ndrangheta, which has overtaken Cosa Nostra as Italy’s most powerful mafia, controls the European cocaine trade and invests its profits in mainstream businesses in Italy and abroad.