Woman Mafia boss arrested

SICILIAN POLICE arrested one of Italy's few female Mafia bosses yesterday as she was having breakfast in her home town near Catania.

Surprised in a friend's apartment, Concetta Scalisi, 45, did not lose her head. As members of the anti-Mafia squad told her she was under arrest, she smashed a glass and began slashing her stomach and hands with one of the shards. The aim of the well-dressed Sicilian matron, one of a handful of female mafiosi, was apparently to ensure she went to hospital rather than to Catania's high-security prison.

Ms Scalisi has been on the run since September. She is charged with belonging to Cosa Nostra and organising a triple murder. Unlike other women, who are increasingly active in what was once a male domain, she was not said to be simply passing on orders from a jailed husband or having Mafia properties put in her name.

"Concetta is the boss, the number one of the Scalisi clan," explained Enzo Montemagno, head of the Catania anti-Mafia squad. "She is brains of the organisation. It is one of the few cases in Italy where a woman is really running the show."

He described Ms Scalisi as a well turned out, conservatively dressed matron "whose expression made it clear she was not someone to be messed with".

Married with two adult children, Ms Scalisi grew up adoring her father, Antonino, the charismatic and powerful local boss. When he was shot dead in a Mafia vendetta in 1982, her brother Salvatore took over. When he, too, was killed five years later, she stepped in to reorganise the family. In deference to the Mafia's patriarchal traditions, she brought in two nephews - but she was the decision maker.

It was during this period that investigators say Ms Scalisi eliminated three "family" members who had stepped out of line - providing the weapons, a refuge and logistical support for the killers. She faces a possible life sentence if convicted.

When her nephews were arrested in 1997, Ms Scalisi reportedly took complete control of mob operations in the hill town of Adrano, with a population of 20,000, near Catania. That included loan sharking, drug dealing, extortion and controlling public works contracts. She also came into contact with her family's traditional allies, the clan of Nitto Santapaola, one of Sicily's most ruthless mobsters.

Ms Scalisi's arrest came after a difficult and frustrating undercover operation. "In a small town where the Scalisi can count on considerable support, it is not easy to trail or observe those close to Concetta without being noticed yourself," Mr Montemagno said.

Three times police thought they had her, only to burst into a building and find no trace. Yesterday morning at breakfast time, however, their painstaking work paid off.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Arts and Entertainment
filmPoldark production team claims innocence of viewers' ab frenzy
Life and Style
Google marks the 81st anniversary of the Loch Ness Monster's most famous photograph
techIt's the 81st anniversary of THAT iconic photograph
News
Katie Hopkins makes a living out of courting controversy
people
News
General Election
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Senior Development Engineer

£28000 - £32000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This leading manufacturer of fl...

Recruitment Genius: Field Sales Operative - Oxfordshire / Worcestershire - OTE £30k

£12000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Field Sales Operative is requ...

Recruitment Genius: Office Administrator

£14000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An Office Administrator is requ...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executive - Commercial Vehicles - OTE £40,000

£12000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Due to expansion and growth of ...

Day In a Page

Revealed: Why Mohammed Emwazi chose the 'safe option' of fighting for Isis, rather than following his friends to al-Shabaab in Somalia

Why Mohammed Emwazi chose Isis

His friends were betrayed and killed by al-Shabaab
'The solution can never be to impassively watch on while desperate people drown'
An open letter to David Cameron: Building fortress Europe has had deadly results

Open letter to David Cameron

Building the walls of fortress Europe has had deadly results
Tory candidates' tweets not as 'spontaneous' as they seem - you don't say!

You don't say!

Tory candidates' election tweets not as 'spontaneous' as they appear
Mubi: Netflix for people who want to stop just watching trash

So what is Mubi?

Netflix for people who want to stop just watching trash all the time
The impossible job: how to follow Kevin Spacey?

The hardest job in theatre?

How to follow Kevin Spacey
Armenian genocide: To continue to deny the truth of this mass human cruelty is close to a criminal lie

Armenian genocide and the 'good Turks'

To continue to deny the truth of this mass human cruelty is close to a criminal lie
Lou Reed: The truth about the singer's upbringing beyond the biographers' and memoirists' myths

'Lou needed care, but what he got was ECT'

The truth about the singer's upbringing beyond
Migrant boat disaster: This human tragedy has been brewing for four years and EU states can't say they were not warned

This human tragedy has been brewing for years

EU states can't say they were not warned
Women's sportswear: From tackling a marathon to a jog in the park, the right kit can help

Women's sportswear

From tackling a marathon to a jog in the park, the right kit can help
Hillary Clinton's outfits will be as important as her policies in her presidential bid

Clinton's clothes

Like it or not, her outfits will be as important as her policies
NHS struggling to monitor the safety and efficacy of its services outsourced to private providers

Who's monitoring the outsourced NHS services?

A report finds that private firms are not being properly assessed for their quality of care
Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

The Tory MP said he did not want to stand again unless his party's manifesto ruled out a third runway. But he's doing so. Watch this space
How do Greek voters feel about Syriza's backtracking on its anti-austerity pledge?

How do Greeks feel about Syriza?

Five voters from different backgrounds tell us what they expect from Syriza's charismatic leader Alexis Tsipras
From Iraq to Libya and Syria: The wars that come back to haunt us

The wars that come back to haunt us

David Cameron should not escape blame for his role in conflicts that are still raging, argues Patrick Cockburn
Sam Baker and Lauren Laverne: Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

A new website is trying to declutter the internet to help busy women. Holly Williams meets the founders