GAETANO BADALAMENTI THE PIZZA CONNECTION

July 25, 2008

Gaetano Badalamenti, the Sicilian crime boss who was convicted in an epic Mafia trial in the 1980’s of being the ringleader of a sophisticated operation that smuggled heroin and cocaine into the United States, has died, a Justice Department spokesman said. He was 80, according to the Federal Bureau of Prisons Web site.

Mr. Badalamenti, who came from Cinisi, Sicily, was sentenced to 45 years in prison in 1987 as one of the masterminds of a drug ring known as the Pizza Connection. The ring imported $1.65 billion in heroin from Southwest Asia to the United States and distributed it through pizza parlors in New York and across the country.

Federal investigators often referred to Mr. Badalamenti as the former ”boss of bosses” of the Sicilian Mafia. He fled Sicily in the 1970’s after losing a local mob war. He later lived in Brazil.

He was arrested in Madrid in 1984 and extradited to the United States.

Mr. Badalamenti was at the center of the ring that investigators said brought $1.65 billion in heroin to the United States over five years, ending in 1984. Using money laundered in New York and Switzerland, Mr. Badalamenti bought the drugs and exported them to the United States through associates in the Midwest. They were distributed by members of the Bonanno crime family……..READ FULL STORY http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9E0CE5D9133DF930A35756C0A9629C8B63

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