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Former Cosa Nostra 'boss of bosses' Toto Riina has died

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By Euronews
Former Cosa Nostra 'boss of bosses' Toto Riina has died

Salvatore ‘Toto’ Riina, one of the most feared Godfathers in the history of the Sicilian Mafia, has died in jail aged 87.

Nicknamed ‘The Beast’ because of his brutality, he had been serving 26 life sentences for his role in a number of high-profile murders as a Cosa Nostra boss.

He had reportedly been battling cancer, heart disease and Parkinson’s.

Riina led the infamous Corleone arm of the Sicilian mob before taking control of the Cosa Nostra crime group in the 1970s, when he oversaw a booming heroin traffic to North America.

While his ruthlessness made him climb up the mafia’s ranks, it also caused his downfall. When he went on a drive to eliminate his rivals in the early 1980s, hundreds of mobsters broke their code of silence and testified against him.

Riina fought back fiercely, and in 1992 the two magistrates leading a campaign to bring down Cosa Nostra were killed in bombings.

Riina was captured in Palermo, Sicily, his powerbase, just six months later in 1993, after more than 20 years as a fugitive.

Since then, he’d been held under high security with little access to his family, to prevent him from giving orders from prison.

However, even behind bars he remained a powerful figure and never cooperated with investigators.

Family members were allowed to visit him in prison over the last few days to see him go.