Posted by Gayle on July 08, 2000 at 16:45:32:
In Reply to: You May Find This Article Very Interesting, Considering the Latest Conversations posted by Ayesha on July 08, 2000 at 11:27:24:
: This article was on the front page of yesterday's San Francisco Examiner.
: NAPLES' GODMOTHER OF CRIME ITALY'S TOP CRIMINAL
: ROME--The body count soars ever higher, but Naples just can't help caller her the "Little Girl" or "Princess".
: Her hit men rove the narrow streets, and rival gangs await their chance to strike. Thoudands of police are trying but failing to quell the mayhem, because no one can find Maria Licciardi.
: Diminutive, powerful and calculating, the godmother of crime is not aristocratic or girlish, but she is waging one of the bloodiest Mafia wars in living memory.
: Fifty-three deaths so far this year, 15 in June alone, have plunged Naples into the abyss. Talk of an economic and cultural renaissance has been drowned out the gunfire.
: Detectives speak of her with hushed respect. She has exceptional intelligence, charisma, calm and the brains of a ruthless tactician. She is not psychotic but practical and merciless. She is a leader. Above all, she is a woman.
: Female authority does not blossom readily in the macho, patriarchal badlands of Southern Italy, but if the lawless streets of Naples can have a master, it is Licciardi.
: She forged an alliance with the 20 fractious criminal clans that make up the Camorra, the Neapolitan version of the Cosa Nostra, by arguing that all would benefit from cooperation.
: Territorial disputes meant corpses and lost earnings. Better to slice up the city and help each other expand the trade in prostitution , ciggarette smuggling, drugs and racketeering.
: "She was right, and the other families knew she was, so they listened," says one Mafia analyst who asks not be be named.
: The higher she has risen, the more Licciardi, 49, has shunned the limelight. Not for her the trappings of celebrity beloved of other Mafia bosses. But since the war broke out, she has been catapulted from the shadows.
: It all started with a disagreement over a drug shippment. Last spring, a large consignment of heroin arrived from Istanbul, but it was unrefined, too pure and too strong for the junkies, so Licciardi decreed it should not be used.
: The Lo Russo clan thought differently. Always restless under her control, members chopped up the consignment, poured it into hundreds of tiny packets and distributed it. Within days, Neapolitans were stumbling over corpeses with contorted faces and needles in their arms. Eleven addicts died in April alone.
: Public outrage resounded across Italy. Rhetoric about the drug pushers' greed and evil galvanized police into a crackdown.
: Known mobsters were harrassed, arrested and followed. The fragile alliance Licciardi had built disintegrated. Clans started picking each other off. Her appeals to reason were ignored. When four of her own people were shot on ther home turf, she had to retaliate.
: Licciardi mobilized her foot soldiers for an all-out counterattack, and the city morgue has been receiving the slashed, beaten and bullet-ridden results ever since. She appears to be gambling that a total assault will end the war quickly, but in the short term she is paying the price by becoming Italy's most-wanted mobster.
: Licciardi had never been convicted of any crime, so police were astonished when they stopped her car at a checkpoint in January 1998 and discovered $150,000 in cash in a suitcase. Investigators suspected the money was a bribe to a politician, but the princess revealed nothing during interrogation. Once released, she melted back into the community and has not been seen since.
: She evaded the dragnet in April when police busted 13 Mafia bosses who were holding a summit to discuss investments. State tax officials, lawyers and bankers were implicated.
: Two weeks ago, a tip-off sent helicopers and several hundred heavily armed police to her hideout; a ramshackle building in Secondigliano. Inside, they found an attic, guarded by surveillance cameras, with marble floors, a grand piano and outside Jacuzzi, but no princess.
: So she remains free and well on her way to joining the pantheon of Mafia women. As their men have been jailed, they have abandoned the laundry and cooking to take over vast criminal enterprises.
: First there was Rosetta "Ice Eyes" Cutolo, who seized control of ther brother Raffaele's affairs after he was jailed in the 1950's. Brilliant with figures, Cutolo negotiated with South American cocaine barons, narrowly failed to blow up police headquarters and was glamorized in a film, "il Camorrista."
: Last June police snared Concetta Scalisi, wanted for three murders, in her hideout on the slopes of Sicily's Mount Etna. She slashed her hands and belly with broken glass in the hope of being hospitalized rather than jailed.
: Maria Filippa Messina has been breaking stones in prison these past five years after being convicted of plotting a massacre.
: The list goes on, for the more mafiosos who are put away, the more their women fill the vacuum.
Great addition to the discussion, Ayesha. Thanks for my Saturday afternoon laugh!
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