BY JESS MCHUGH @MCHUGHJESS
Italian police released information to the public this weekend of the election process for a new boss of one of the top families of the Sicilian Mafia, the Local reported. The information was released following a lengthy investigation into the Santa Maria di Gesu family, one of the most powerful clans in Sicily.
The report revealed that members of the organization chose their bosses by popular vote, with candidates campaigning in the runup, much as in government elections. Many of the contenders for leadership talked about the race in barbershops, with the conversations caught on tape by police wiretaps.
Several members of the family and its allies were arrested following the investigation. The lead prosecutor for the case, Francesco Lo Voi, described the material as "extraordinary, in that the Mafiosi are caught on tape talking about their rules, the organization and its history."
Italian Mafia families have seen something of a renaissance in the past several years, infiltrating many agencies of government in Rome and growing more open about their existence. The tapes recorded several people using the term "Cosa Nostra" (Our Thing), an old mob name for itself. Prosecutors said this was the first time the term had been used in decades and signaled a growing boldness, the Local reported.
The organized crime ring has made headlines in the past several weeks both in Italy and abroad for its pledges to defend against the terror group known as the Islamic State group, ISIS or Daesh. An ex-agent for Italian intelligence services said the Mafia could serve as a useful ally in protecting the nation from the heightened terror threat following the massacre claimed by ISIS Nov. 13 in Paris. "The presence of the criminal organizations, which control the territory, will not allow terrorists to permeate their zones," said the agent, who spoke on the condition of anonymity.