Police swooped down on an isolated farmhouse early Wednesday and arrested Giuseppe Pulvirenti, believed to be the boss of the Mafia in the eastern part of Sicily.
About 20 armed Carabinieri police searched the farmhouse near Pulvirenti's hometown of Bel-passo, nine miles northwest of Catania, and at first found nothing.Then they lifted a trapdoor in the farm courtyard that led to an underground room where Pul-vi-ren-ti, 63, was sleeping. With him was Giuseppe Pappalardo, 37, a man with no police record who served as Pulvirenti's messenger.
Police said Pulvirenti, on the run for 11 years, had feared police were getting close to him and had been hiding at the farm for a week.
The arrest of Pulvirenti followed that of Catania Mafia boss Benedetto "Nitto" Santapaola May 18 and Salvatore "Toto" Riina, 62, reputed to be the "boss of bosses" of the Sicilian Mafia, on Jan. 15.
Pulvirenti was a close ally of Santapaola in the Catania area, and police believed he had taken over Santapaola's role as Mafia boss of the eastern part of the island.
When he was arrested Pulvirenti was wearing a gold ring with 12 small diamonds, which informers have told police was the symbol of members of the Mafia regional "commission."
On a gold chain around his neck was a gold medallion bearing the image of a lion's head, which was Pulvirenti's personal symbol.