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Eight women among Mafia associates arrested

Police say they are getting closer to Cosa Nostra boss

13 December, 18:07
Eight women among Mafia associates arrested (See related) (ANSA) - Palermo, December 13 - Police arrested eight women Friday as part of a group of 30 family members and other associates connected with the fugitive Mafia boss Matteo Messina Denaro. That included Messina Denaro's sister Patrizia who, with his nephew Francesco Guttadauro, helped to maintain the web of protection around the Cosa Nostra chief who has been on the run since 1993.

Wives and daughters of family members have been accused of collaborating in the Mafia organization and its network of financial dealings.

One woman was even forced by Patrizia Messina Denaro to hand over an inheritance of more than 70,000 euros, police allege.

Despite his life as a fugitive, Messina Denaro is still reportedly active as the closest thing the Mafia has to a chief following the capture of 'boss of bosses' Bernardo Provenzano in 2006 after 43 years on the run.

The system the Mafia group created had a stranglehold on the local building sector, police said.

"The organization was able to constantly monitor the most important works (planned) in the area and intervene in their construction with a major network of companies controlled directly or indirectly by Mafiosi entrepreneurs or elements linked to them," investigators said. "Widespread extortion has also be uncovered in the area, damaging rival companies and even private citizens who had inherited major sums of money". Interior Minister Angelino Alfano said the arrests were "really important" in isolating the fugitive Messina Denaro and cutting off his finances.