Sputnik: How will the arrest of Mineo affect Cosa Nostra, as the criminal organisation will now be lacking leadership?
Dr. Sergi: Settimo Mineo was considered the heir of Totò Riina. Totò Riina was the former boss of Cosa Nostra, the last one we know of that has been elected officially by the Cosa Nostra commission. When he died in 2017, everyone kept looking at what was happening in the rankings of Cosa Nostra.
His arrest at the moment essentially signifies that not only law enforcement has been onto the group as they always have been, but also that the new strategy that Cosa Nostra is willing to pursue might not be necessarily the best one to the group around more traditional values, such as electing the oldest one.
Sputnik: What does the arrest mean for the crackdown on the Mafia's activities?
Dr. Sergi: It means that it is not true what we heard for the past 20 years, that Cosa Nostra has lost power, that Cosa Nostra is somehow submerged and that Cosa Nostra is somehow dead. It's impossible for a social phenomenon of the size of Cosa Nostra to be ever become extinct.
So the constant attention of police and law enforcement on the anti-mafia side in Sicily has shown exactly that not only the phenomenon is not extinct, but that we need to be more careful than ever in the way it's changing and adapting. Maybe we assume that things are not as they used to be, because we don't see them in the same shape as they used to be, but that doesn't mean that there isn't a new shape of things — and this shape might be more successful and less visible. So this has shown that the fight against the Mafia, especially Cosa Nostra, is definitely not over.
Sputnik: How did the organised crime group evolve throughout the decades?
Dr. Sergi: The history of all Mafias in the South of Italy, not just Cosa Nostra or the other ones, has to do with the change of social factors and social conditions, including the rezoning of lands and the birth of private property in the way that we know today. Obviously each region in the South of Italy has specific reasons for why certain groups have emerged.
What this essentially meant is that this kind of behaviour became an organisation in a way that is clear and visible throughout all of the last century, up to the point in which this behaviour became the rule of the game for the organisation, whether the organisation was the Sicilian Mafia or the Calabrian Mafia or any other Mafia in the South of Italy. It eventually became a hostile type of behaviour towards the legality that had been established at least formally everywhere.
Sputnik: How is Cosa Nostra connected to Sicily?
Dr. Sergi: The history of Cosa Nostra is the history of Sicily, unfortunately, in many cases. A history of migration, a history of forgetfulness of the Italian State in terms of certain needs that specifically the island of Sicily has; and obviously Mafia powers are always one step in, one step out.
They lead in the territories they govern by providing these territories with things that people perceive that the State is not giving them, but at the same time they are parasites: they feed off people's lives, and they prey on people's weaknesses and the structural weaknesses of the general governing bodies.
SPUTNIK: Have Cosa Nostra and the Mafia as a whole reached their final stage of power and influence in Italy?
Dr. Sergi: Yes and no. In a way, we have seen such success from law enforcement, especially in the Southern regions, and a growing attention in the rest of the country — Mafias are not just a problem of the South, they are everywhere in Italy at the moment, and not just in Italy. We have seen the highest level of sophistication we could have ever imagined — infiltration in politics has been high, and that is the sign of a very sophisticated group. The clean face of organised crime groups has reached levels that shouldn't have been reached. But at the same time, if you go to the typical areas where Mafia power has always been pervasive, you see wastelands.
The views and opinions expressed by the speaker do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.