Tuesday, August 25, 2009

The Godmothers

From Associated Press:
They go by such nicknames as "Fat Cat" and "Tomboy." Their simmering power struggles once drove them into the streets, guns blazing. They rule their crime families with steely determination, and also raise the kids and stir the pasta.

Move over, Don Corleone. Godmothers are rising in the ranks of the Camorra, the Naples' area crime syndicate.

Women have long played a strong role in Camorra crime families, muscling, sometimes murdering, their way to the top. Their influence stretches back as far as the 1950s when a pregnant former beauty queen dubbed "pupetta" (little doll) shot dead the man who had ordered a hit on her husband, and allegedly settled into a life of crime.

Now, as the state steps up its war against the Camorra, rounding up scores of mobsters, the women are increasingly taking over the helm from their men.

And from the
Women are "assuming ever-more leading roles," said Stefania Castaldi, a
Naples-based prosecutor who investigates organised crime.

One of them is Maria Licciardi, one of the victors of a long-running blood feud that in recent years left Naples littered with bodies.

"Signora Licciardi is a true 'madrina' (godmother), absolutely," said Miss Castaldi. "She was the sister of a boss, and she sat at the table with other bosses, she made decisions with them, she was right at their level."

Authorities are now investigating whether one of those decisions was an order to execute as many as 30 of her rivals.

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