Sicilians dare to believe: The mafia’s cruel reign is over

According to numerous experts, the organisation that crafted its own mythology – inspiring films, books and television series – has never been weaker. Decimated by relentless arrests, weighed down by the recent economic crisis, short on cash and on foot soldiers, Cosa Nostra has become a paper tiger.

Dead? No, because it’s still embedded in Sicilian society; but transformed, yes: reduced, according to many, to the level of a neighbourhood gang.

“It is very probable that today’s mafia is the weakest in its history,” says Salvatore Lupo, a professor of contemporary history at Palermo University and a renowned expert in the history of Italy’s Cosa Nostra. “The Italian state has obtained unprecedented results. Judicial pressure and the crisis it has caused in recent years is something that mafia bosses have never experienced in the organisation’s history.”

Since Falcone and Borsellino’s deaths, the police have arrested more than 4,000 mafiosi, including 361 in 2011 and 300 in 2014. One of the most important arrests following the magistrates’ deaths was that of Totò “the beast” Riina, one of the most ruthless bosses in the history of Cosa Nostra.

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