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Mother of five controlled one of Sicily’s biggest mafia gangs

A mother of five has emerged as the feared boss of one of Sicily’s most powerful mafia clans. Police said yesterday that she ran the Cosa Nostra after her husband was arrested.

Teresa Marino, a grandmother aged 38, took over the clan running the Porta Nuova area of Palermo after investigators detained her husband, Tommaso “Shorty” Lo Presti.

Mrs Marino proved herself a skilled accountant and a tough, unquestioned leader as she laundered proceeds from extortion rackets and cocaine smuggling through investments in the fish markets before being arrested herself.

As a growing number of mafia bosses in Italy are given lengthy jail sentences, their wives are taking key roles, but wiretaps released by police revealed that Mrs Marino was particularly assertive and was heard giving orders to her cousin, a senior member of the mob.

Mrs Marino prioritised the financial needs of mob wives whose husbands were in jail, giving them living expenses even as she cut the wages of male affiliates.

She instructed the wives to avoid showing emotion or grief, especially when appearing in court, telling them “to show mafia dignity – and express your grief in your own homes”.

“Teresa Marino is an important figure within Cosa Nostra,” Colonel Giuseppe De Riggi, from Italy’s paramilitary Carabinieri police, said.

“She shows how organised criminality in Palermo is using all its resources to exercise its power convincingly.”

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