Video reveals how Mafia bosses run gangs from jail

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The Independent Online

The mystery of how Sicilian Mafia bosses serving long jail sentences continue to exert authority over their gang members on the outside has been solved. And it's no mystery.

The mystery of how Sicilian Mafia bosses serving long jail sentences continue to exert authority over their gang members on the outside has been solved. And it's no mystery.

Meetings between jailed gang bosses and their close relatives, filmed by security cameras, reveal that mafiosi have few inhibitions about discussing business within range of the prison authorities - and when they have something particularly sensitive to discuss they stand up, embrace their loved one in a tender hug across the low glass partition, and whisper. They also pass over letters.

Videos recorded by security cameras in Palermo's Pagliarelli jail show just how blatantly the Mafia's top dogs continue to run the show from behind bars. A long line of prisoners and relatives confront each other over the glass screen. One relative after another gets his or her turn with the incarcerated one. They discuss protection money, forthcoming trials, problems with particular gang members, seeming blithely indifferent to the authorities' cameras and tape recorders.

Then comes the loving, confidential embrace, mouth pressed against ear, and the fumbling across of notes.

Damning frames from the videos were published by Rome's La Repubblica newspaper yesterday. They were discovered by a prosecutor in Palermo, Michele Prestipino, after a new Mafia turncoat brought the simple but shocking truth to his attention.

Carmela Iuculano, wife of jailed Mafia boss Pino Rizzo, decided to collaborate with the authorities "to guarantee a future to her three children" as La Repubblica put it.

"At Pagliarelli," she told prosecutors in Palermo, "we always had multiple conversations [with the prisoners]. Every week we arranged things with the relatives of my husband, all in jail there. They sat on one side, we on the other."

Making the videos public, Mr Prestipino said: "These images are shocking. As if the dozens of inquiries demonstrating how detained gang bosses continue to manage business were not enough, they show that the problem of communication [with relatives] is very serious. And if Mafia bosses have no difficulty passing their orders to the outside world, our battle has been lost at the outset.

"It's vital that we find a way to control the effective communications of the prisoners and prevent the criminals from doing this ... The answer is absolutely simple: it's enough to ensure constant and assiduous vigilance [inside the jail]."

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