Tommaso Buscetta (center) was escorted by Italian police in 1972. Photo: AP.

The first to break the mafia’s ‘silent law’


More than 300 mafia members wish they had never heard of Tommaso Buscetta, who provided information to officials that led them to conviction.

Tommaso Buscetta was born on July 13, 1928, in a family of 17 children in Palermo, Sicily, Italy. Growing up in poverty and having few job opportunities, Buscetta was quickly attracted to the path of crime and became the only member of the mafia family.

Tommaso Buscetta (center) was escorted by Italian police in 1972. Photo: AP.

Buscetta became involved with the mafia in Italy at the end of World War II, at the age of 17. He participated in the cigarette smuggling activities of gangs during the 1950s and 1960s with operating areas in Argentina and Brazil. In the early 1960s, Buscetta came to New York and worked briefly for the Gambino family, one of the five mafia groups that dominated the New York underworld.

Although Buscetta did not rank high in the mafia ranks, his mind and experience made even the most senior members seek advice from him. Buscetta is nicknamed “the boss of two worlds”.

However, the revenge and internal payment made Buscetta turned away from the mafia. In 1982, the mafia assassin killed two sons, son-in-law, oldest brother, and Buscetta’s nephew in Palermo.

Buscetta was arrested in Brazil a year later and deported to Italy on June 28, 1984. After unsuccessful suicide, Buscetta agreed to cooperate with Italian and American officials. He asked to speak to anti-mafia judge Giovanni Falcone and to spend 45 days to provide information about mafia’s internal operations, structure and lead committee, but refused to disclose the mafia’s connections. with the political world.

He became the first person to break Omerta, the “silent law” that requires mafia members to keep the organization secret and refuse to provide information to the authorities.

“For me, death is like a shade on a sunny day. As a mafia member, I know that I have to follow the rules,” Buscetta said. “But the unjust deaths of innocent people made me unable to continue being a mafia member. This is revenge.”

“Breaking the law of silence is the hardest decision in Buscetta’s life because he has a feeling that he breaks something sacred,” Buscetta’s wife, using a pseudonym Cristina, told a talented film crew. Data on her husband.

Italy has no witness protection program, so the United States is responsible for ensuring Buscetta’s safety. They took him to America, gave him his citizenship, and lived in a secret house in New Jersey. In return, Buscetta revealed to them information about the mafia in the United States.

A US Drug Prevention Service agent described Buscetta at the time as “the most important witness, the most sought after and the most threatened life in American criminal history”.

In 1986, Buscetta testified at the largest anti-mafia trial in history called the Maxi, which took place in Palermo. Buscetta helped the judges Giovanni Falcone and Paolo Borsellino achieve significant success by prosecuting 475 mafia members and sentencing 339 people.

However, Buscetta warned Judge Falcone that he was on a dangerous path. “First, they will try to kill me, then it is your turn,” Buscetta said. “They will persevere until they succeed.”

Giovanni Falcone and Paolo Borsellino in Italy in March 1992. Photo: Commons.

Giovanni Falcone (left) and Paolo Borsellino in Italy in March 1992. Image: Commons.

Falcone was assassinated in a bombing in May 1992. Judge Paolo Borsellino was assassinated two months later. Buscetta then provided officials with more information about politicians interacting with the mafia.

Prosecutor Louis Freeh, who later became the director of the FBI, said that Buscetta provided very important information on how the mafia works. Before he died, Falcone said in an interview about Buscetta’s cooperation: “Before he revealed the information, we had only superficial knowledge about the mafia. Thanks to him, we understood. organized internally “.

Buscetta’s cooperation gives him freedom and freedom from imprisonment. However, Buscetta must live in his “prison”: he must use a fake name, always kept secret because of fear of being murdered.

After passing in 2000 at the age of 71 from cancer, Buscetta was buried in Miami, Florida. His wife said that even the neighbors do not know who they really are.

Buscetta’s descendants still live in fear of reprisals. Mafia members may consider killing the descendant of Buscetta a “spoil”. “The Mafia won’t forget it,” Cristina said.

Phương Vũ (Follow ATI)

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