After a crackdown by law enforcement, mafia clans have turned from violence and intimidation to corruption and collusion

“Riina was still the boss of Cosa Nostra when he died. No one had taken his place after his arrest. It is unprecedented for the position not to be filled when the boss is arrested,” said Roberto Saviano, the author of Gomorrah.

That Totò Riina held on to his position as “boss of bosses” while in isolation in prison for the last 24 years of his life is remarkable. But in mafia culture, symbolism is important, and Riina, who died on Friday, was able to make his views known via signals, messages and intermediaries. From prison, he issued threats against the anti-mafia prosecutor Nino Di Matteo, who now lives under armed protection. Riina’s sons, one of whom has been convicted of four murders, have allegedly found ways to communicate on behalf of their father.

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