|The Naked City||Dec 16 2008|
Italian police carried out a large raid today against organized crime figures suspected of having links to gangster Matteo Messina Denaro. Denaro, along with other aspirants, is vying to be the first to rebuild the Sicily-based Cosa Nostra, which collapsed after the 2006 arrest of then-boss Bernardo Provenzano, and the 2007 arrest of heir apparent Salvatore Lo Piccolo.
Altogether, police made around 100 arrests in the Sicilian capitol of Palermo, and on the Italian mainland in the Tuscany region. The operation, nicknamed Perseus after the mythical Greek hero who killed Medusa, was carried out with the backing of helicopters and police dogs, and was the culmination of a nine-month investigation. Those jailed will be charged with variety of offences, including extortion of arms and drug trafficking.
Anti-Mafia prosecutor Pietro Grasso said at a press conference that, “While the 2006 operation had brought Cosa Nostra to its knees, Perseus prevented it from rearing its head again.” Meanwhile Denaro, who is sometimes described as a playboy and is famous enough to have earned a L’Espresso cover and an infamous Warhol-style tribute from an anonymous Italian graffiti artist, remains at large.