Italian mafia kingpin, 46 others arrested

Settimino Mineo, jeweller and new head of the Sicilian mafia is escorted by carabinieri as he exits a police station after his arrest in Palermo

Italian police struck a blow against the Sicilian mafia on Tuesday after arresting its alleged boss and more than 40 other suspects.

The previous boss of bosses, Salvatore "Toto" Riina, died in prison a year ago after spending nearly a quarter of century behind bars for ordering dozens of murders, including those of two of Italy's most famous anti-mob magistrates.

The 46 others could face charges of belonging to the mafia, extortion and illegal possession of arms amongst others.

He was reportedly elected Cosa Nostra godfather at a Mafia meeting in May.

Reports say that Mineo, the owner of a jewellery shop in Palermo, became the Cosa Nostra boss after Salvatore Riina - known as Totò and renowned for a bloody murder campaign in the 1990s which resulted in the assassination of prosecutors involved in an anti-mafia commission - died last November.

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His election marked a shift of power away from Corleone, the hilltop town that was Cosa Nostra's main base for years and was made famous by The Godfather novels and films.

Mineo was sentenced to five years in jail for mafia-related crimes at the so-called "maxi-trial" that ran from 1986-1992 and was spearheaded by prosecutors Giovanni Falcone and Paolo Borsellino. As the eldest of the local clan leaders, he enjoyed particular respect, he said.

"This is a sign that Cosa Nostra doesn't abandon its rules", Mr Lo Voi told a press conference.

"And that despite the convictions, despite the trials, important people can take over the most important roles once they're back in play".

After Riina's 1993 arrest, the Sicilian Mafia saw a degree of marginalisation compared with the Calabrian-based organised crime syndicate or the Neapolitan Camorra. But Italian officials said it continued increasing its financial and business activities. Italy's Minister of Interior Matteo Salvini said on Twitter that Tuesday's operation had, in essence, decapitated the mob.

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