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Italian Police Crack Mafia Sheep Code, Arrest Godfather’s Key Henchmen

August 3, 2015  |  Posted by: JammedUp Staff
Italian Police Crack Mafia Sheep Code, Arrest Godfather’s Key Henchmen

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Italian authorities have detained 11 suspects allegdly linked to the fugitive head of the Sicilian Mafia, who has been a fugitive for over 20 years.

According to Italian officals, Matteo Messina Denaro, 53, who has been on the lam since 1993, reportedly issued orders to his underlings out of a farm in Mazara del Vallo using an aged-old communication method based on sheep called ‘pizzini’ – paper containing coded messages, which were written in cipher.

Some of the cryptic messages passed to his henchmen used to alert his organized crime syndicate included phrases like ‘the sheep need shearing’, ‘the shears need sharpening’ and ‘the hay is ready’.

Denaro still remains at large. However, among those arrested was  his former  under-boss Vito Gondola, 77, who alerted soldiers to each new message, which was placed under a rock in a field at the farm and often destroyed on the spot after reading.

‘I’ve put the ricotta cheese aside for you, will you come by later?’ he would say on the telephone – a phrase investigators said had nothing to do with dairy products.

Boss Vito Gondola is arrested with 11 other suspects

Boss Vito Gondola is arrested with 11 other suspects

Police said the notes were wadded tight, covered in tape and hidden under rocks or dug into soil until go-betweens retrieved them.

The police investigation, which followed the passing of messages between 2011 and 2014, used hidden cameras and microphones around the farm near Trapani in western Sicily to follow the movements of the clan – and discover Denaro’s fading glory.

Gondola is caught in one conversation telling another mobster that Denaro – once a trigger man who reportedly boasted he could ‘fill a cemetery’ with his victims – was losing control over the latest generation of criminals, who ‘disappear without saying anything’.

An Italian police officer takes Michele Gucciardi into custody. He is oneof 11 suspects detained

An Italian police officer takes Michele Gucciardi into custody. He is oneof 11 suspects detained

Gondola, who despite his age rose every morning at 4am to tend to his flock, is believed to have once been a right-hand man to Riina.

In the 1970s he belonged to a gang used by the Mafia to carry out kidnappings, according to Italian media reports. Three of those arrested were over 70 years old.

Bernardo-Provenzano (1)

Former boss Bernardo Provenzano currently serving a life sentence

Only known photos of Denaro date back to the early 1990s.

He is believed to be the successor of the high profile ruthless godfather Toto Riina and his successor Bernardo Provenzano, both serving life sentences.

However, unlike like those before him, authorities know less about Denaro.

He was convicted in absentia as a mastermind of 1993 bombings in Rome, Florence and Milan aimed at intimidating authorities cracking down on the Cosa Nostra.

The 11 suspects arrested ‘were the men who were closest to Denaro right now,’ said police official Renato Cortese, adding that it was ‘too early to say’ whether the sting would help investigators close in on the fugitive.

The Sicilian Mafia, known as ‘Cosa Nostra’ or ‘Our Thing’, was the country’s most powerful organised crime syndicate in the 1980s and 1990s, but has seen its power diminish following years of investigations and mass arrests.

It also faces fierce underworld competition from the increasingly powerful Naples-based Camorra and  most notably Calabria’s ‘Ndrangheta, who has surpassed them in power.

From the Daily Mail

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