Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Man, 73, arrested, suspected mob kingpin

After a four-decade investigation, anti-Mafia police announced today they finally got their man: Bernardo Provenzano. Provenzano is called the "Phantom of Corleone", the capo dei capi, mafia crime boss Numero Uno, the most wanted man in Italy. Some naysayers insisted this master of disguises and paranoid recluse would never be caught. He's always one step ahead. His lawyer last month said he's been long dead and that an investigation is just silly, a waste of time and money. Turns out he's very much alive, hermitting away in the hills above Corleone.

After a morning raid on his country house outside Corleone, police hauled in the 73-year-old jeans-wearing fugitive today. Numerous media reports are quick to point out that he's been on the run for decades. But something here just doesn't add up. How hard is it to find a little old man in the hills outside of town? Investigators have been on his trail for years. And yet he kept giving them the slip. Consider exhibit A: this in-depth piece by Time's Jeff Israely. What then happened today that lead to the big break? Did they bother to expand their investigation, maybe to include questioning the eccentric oldtimer on the top of the hill only to find out, wait a second, you're the guy we want?!? It sounds as if he was located pretty much in the same spot they figured he'd been all along.

Let's consider a few more details. The Provenzanos aren't exactly globe trotters. The son has a business in town. His wife and daughter live nearby. I'm sure he's got a regular scopa game going every Thursday afternoon. And, I'd bet if you check the voting records, he's cast a ballot in 13 of the last 8 elections. What else do we know? He ran the crime syndicate by handing out typed notes to his liutenants. No scrambled phone messages, no encrypted emails, no smoke signals. This doesn't sound like an elusive fugitive holed up in a Dr. Evil hideout. I'd bet the village priest knew where to find him all along.

This one smells a bit fishy to me. As in Sicilian fishy.

No doubt the crack investigation team will answer all these questions, unmasking the fugitive years of Bernardo Provenzano. And, I'm sure in due time we'll learn the whereabouts of that other hobbled recluse. Yep, Provenzano must have a line on Bin Laden.

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