Italy takes fight to new generation in Mafia sting

Rome (AFP) –


Anti-mafia police said Tuesday they had dealt a fresh blow to Italy's Cosa Nostra, arresting seven suspected rising-star mobsters after two of the organised crime group turned state witnesses.

The raids followed a major swoop against the resurgent Sicilian mafia in December when a jeweller was captured just before he was due to be officially anointed "boss of bosses" of the reconvened Mafia Commission or Cupola.

Among the dozens rounded up last month were two who quickly turned supergrass.

They spilled the beans to police about clan leaders who were allegedly part of the Cupola.

Those included Leandro Greco, grandson of famed mobster Michele Greco -- dubbed "The Pope" -- and Calogero Lo Piccolo, the son of a powerful boss nicknamed "The Baron", both arrested on Tuesday, a police statement said.

They were cuffed along with Giovanni Sirchia, who was accused of ferrying both mobsters and secret messages back and forth, as well as four others accused of mafia extortion.

The informants described the attempts to breathe fresh life into the Cosa Nostra -- nicknamed "the octopus" for its tentacled reach into all areas of society, according to media reports.

The Cupola had not met for years. Mafia hunters heard how at a summit in May the organisation had agreed on a return to the old rules, and appointed spokespersons for the various clans to improve communication.

But its attempt to appoint a new leader after the death in 2017 of former "boss of bosses" Toto Riina -- nicknamed "The Beast" because of his cruelty -- appeared to fail.

Riina's presumed heir, Matteo Messina Denaro, is on the run, and other potential successors are serving time under Italy's harsh mafia regime.