The Italian Almanac

identikit of Provenzano

Italian News - April 12

Cosa Nostra superboss Bernardo Provenzano, whose ghostly aura fed the Sicilian Mafia's mystique for almost half a century, was arrested Tuesday morning in the biggest police coup in over a decade. Provenzano, 73, did not resist arrest when police broke into his hide-out in an apparently abandoned building on a sheep farm near his home town of Corleone south of Palermo.

"He didn't move. He was unruffled and didn't say anything," the arresting officer said. Police called the arrest "historic". Provenzano's capture was also hailed by politicians including Interior Minister Giuseppe Pisanu, who said "Cosa Nostra has lost its undisputed head", and President Carlo Azeglio Ciampi, who phoned national anti-Mafia chief Piero Grasso to congratulate him.

Policemen and women joined the celebrations - seasoned flying squad officers openly wept with joy - while many in the crowd shouted insults at the toppled kingpin. Police finally cornered the boss - who had slipped through the police's fingers on several occasions, helped by well-placed 'moles' - by using wiretaps to follow packages of messages and laundry.

They then planted bugs in the farm building and moved in when they were sure who the 'old farmer' staying there really was. Provenzano, a peasant who rose up the Mafia's ranks through his ability as a killer, was found with a bundle of messages in his jeans. Shunning phones, he had used these scraps of paper for years to give orders and send out for food and other necessities, shielded by lieutenants and relatives.