Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Suspected mob boss arrested in Italian raids kills himself in jail

PALERMO – A suspected Mafia boss arrested Tuesday in a high-profile police swoop has hung himself in his prison cell, police sources said Wednesday.

Gaetano Lo Presti, who was already convicted of mob-related crimes prior to his latest arrest, was found dead late last night in Pagliarelli prison in the Sicilian capital of Palermo.

He was one of the 99 people apprehended Tuesday suspected of trying to rebuild the top ranks of the Sicilian Mafia, which has been weakened by the arrests of powerful mob leaders.

It was the latest blow to the Cosa Nostra, whose "boss of bosses" Bernardo Provenzano was arrested in 2006. Provenzano's heir apparent, Salvatore Lo Piccolo, was apprehended in 2007.

Some 1,200 police, backed by helicopters and anti-drug units, carried out the latest round of arrests. Lo Presti and the other suspects were accused of crimes including extortion, trafficking of arms and drugs and having mafia links.

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