- The Washington Times - Saturday, January 15, 2005

NAPLES, Italy — A brutal “civil war” has broken out in Naples, with members of one Mafia clan fighting another for control of the drug-infested Scampia neighborhood.

One of the most terrifying aspects of the violence has been the killing of innocent relatives or associates of rivals in “transversal” vendettas that go against the rules of honor obeyed in the past by the Sicilian Cosa Nostra and to large extent also by Neapolitan mobsters, said Judge Giandomenico Lepore, who heads the investigations into the underworld war.

“It is difficult to know in advance who are the targets of the killers. They are unpredictable,” said the magistrate, predicting that the slaughter here will continue. “This will lead to the destruction of the Di Lauro clan.”

The war widened this month to the central Forcella district of the port city as gunmen murdered Camorra clan boss Edoardo Bove, just hours after Italy’s President Carlo Azeglio Ciampi toured the Scampia neighborhood where 44 persons were slain last year. The Camorra is the Neapolitan equivalent of the Sicilian Mafia.

The shooting of Mr. Bove, 28, was the fifth gangland killing in Naples in five days. He was the third male companion of Anna Giuliano to be killed, and it was the second time she was “widowed,” police sources said.

In Bari, at the heel of the Italian boot, early this month, police arrested Francesco Romito, 62, a kingpin convicted of the murder of two Neapolitan gangsters.

Police said Mr. Bove apparently was slain for disloyalty to the titular Camorra boss in Forcella, Vincenzo Mazzarella, who was arrested by Italian and French police last month at a hide-out near the Disney World outside Paris, a favorite destination of Italian vacationers.

At stake is the Naples drug trade. Scampia is a desolate slum of tower apartments, where narcotics are sold openly, drawing busloads of addicts from outside the city. In the past, according to police informants and newspaper reports, street dealers were permitted to operate freely, buying their inventory anywhere as long as they paid the Di Lauro family a fee. But apparently, some in the family want to create a supply monopoly.

Returning to Rome from Naples Jan. 5, Mr. Ciampi told reporters: “The Camorra is a cancer that needs to be cut out.”

The Bove killing was carried out by a hit man who was evidently on good terms with the victim’s family, because he talked his way past relatives to gain access to the drug kingpin’s fortified bunker at home before gunning him down with three head shots from a pistol, the sources said.

As has happened before during dramatic moments in the Neapolitan gang war, relatives of the victim refused to open the apartment’s steel-plated doors when officers arrived to investigate the killing. As on other occasions, a crowd of Camorra women gathered in the narrow street outside, screaming abuse at police and paramilitary carabinieri to prevent arrests in the slum neighborhood that has been a no-go area to police for decades.

Catholic priests and other anti-Mafia community leaders in Forcella, in the center of the teeming Spanish Quarter a stone’s throw from the swank hotels lining the famed bay of Naples, said the Bove killing showed the mob-infested district had been “abandoned” by the forces of law and order, who are busy elsewhere in the lawless suburbs of the city such as Scampia.

Father Luigi Merola, a parish priest in Forcella, again was furious. Last spring, he led a citizens’ revolt when a 14-year-old girl, Annalisa Durante, was killed in the crossfire of a Camorra gun battle in Forcella. After the priest led torchlit protests through Forcella last year, city politicians responded with visits to the neighborhood, and authorities seized a number of properties belonging to Camorra hoodlums.

But that was then.

“We were left abandoned as the television lights in our district were extinguished. Once the Camorra war started in Scampia, the politicians forgot about us and the forces of law and order gradually went away,” Father Merola said.

Eleven days ago, police arrested Giovanni Cortese, 24, described as the “spokesman” for Paolo Di Lauro, the fugitive Camorra boss who set off the gang war in Scampia to “discipline” unruly Camorra soldiers who sought to set up business on their own.

La Repubblica newspaper described Mr. Cortese as a “messenger of death,” who passed on to hit men the order by Camorra dons to murder Gelsomina Verde, 20, a young woman without a criminal record who was gunned down as a warning to gangsters with whom she had been friendly.

Meanwhile, police were trying to reach Anna “a pallona” [“the ball”] Giuliano, nicknamed for her habit of bouncing from one man to another. The sister of the former “King of Forcella,” Luigi Giuliano, she had been living with Mr. Bove.

Police informers say many murders in Camorra circles are carried out “because of the disordered sentimental life of women in the families,” who act as recruiting tools for Camorra clans.

Mrs. Giuliano was previously married to Camorra boss Luigi D’Avino, who was wounded while trying to collect protection money from a gang of transsexual prostitutes working in Forcella. During his convalescence, the couple separated, and Mrs. Giuliano fell in love with Pasquale Aquino, a former carabinieri officer living in the neighborhood.

“This was a relationship that didn’t please the brother bosses responsible for the honor of Anna’s husband,” La Repubblica reported. Mr. Aquino was killed hours after his affair with Mrs. Giuliano became known.

Mrs. Giuliano’s love life appeared to have taken a turn for the better when she moved in with Mr. Bove, who was 20 years younger than she and tried to set himself up as the new “king of Forcella.” Mr. Bove was gunned down in front of her this month.

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