Thursday, April 23, 2009

Antonio Bardellino Cosa Nostra

Antonio Bardellino (San Cipriano d'Aversa, 1945 - Rio de Janeiro, May 26, 1988) was a powerful Neapolitan Camorrista and boss of the Casalesi clan, having a prominent role in the organized crime in the province of Caserta during the 1980's. He was one of the last of the old style Camorra godfathers.

He had close and powerful contacts within the Sicilian Mafia, initially with the Porta Nuova family of Pippo Calò. He was one of the few Camorra bosses who were also initiated in Cosa Nostra. Together with Lorenzo Nuvoleta and Michele Zaza he was sworn in to seal a pact on cigarette smuggling in 1975

While the Nuvoletta brothers were allied with the Corleonesi headed by Luciano Liggio and Salvatore Riina, Bardellino was allied with Rosario Riccobono, Stefano Bontade, Gaetano Badalamenti, and Tommaso Buscetta, all heads of fallen Palermo families which were defeated by the Corleonesi in the Second Mafia War, and forced to flee.

In the 1980's, Bardellino realized that cocaine, not heroin, would become the more profitable drug and organized a trafficking operation smuggling it from Latin America to Aversa via a fish flour import-export business. Heroin was smuggled as well, and shipments to the Gambino crime family were concealed inside expresso filters. When one shipment was intercepted by the authorities, Bardellino reportedly called John Gotti and told him; "Don't worry, now we're sending twice as much the other way"

According to the official version of the story, on May 26, 1988, Antonio Bardellino was murdered by his right hand man, Mario Iovine in his Brazilian home at Buzios, a beach side resort for the rich and famous in the State of Rio de Janeiro, as part of an internal feud within the Casalesi. However, this story has never been clarified because his body was never found and the alleged assassin, Iovine, was himself murdered in Portugal in 1991 while using a phone booth. These circumstances have fueled a legend that Bardellino is still alive, and has left power in the hands of the other families within the Casalesi clan in order to ensure the survival of his family.

When his old friend, Tommaso Buscetta who later became a pentito was asked about the status of Bardellino during a testimony before the Antimafia Commission, he replied: "Is it already obvious that Bardellino died? I do not know, but I do not believe that he is dead." After the news of Bardellino's death spread, his family left their homes and native areas to take refuge in Formia where they still reside. After the disappearance of Antonio Bardellino, the five families (Schiavone, Iovine, Bidognetti, De Falco and Zagaria) took control, each with their own army