By Angelo Carmelo Gallitto
Posted in 2003
Benedetto Santapaola was born in Catania; he was introduced into the largest “family” of the city by his cousin Francesco “Little Horse” Ferrera, at the beginning of 1960s, when the boss was Giuseppe Calderone. He grow up in San Cristoforo neighbourhood, where also lived his brothers Salvatore, Antonino, Natale and his numerous cousins, included the Ferrera’s, the Ercolano’s and the Romeo’s, all members or associates of Cosa Nostra, and the future “strong nucleus” of the family.
He controlled gambling and extortions around the province, at the beginning of 1970s he was designated “capodecina”, but he was ambitious and wanted to be the boss. His chance arrived when he met Totò Riina for the first time, when he was fugitive under fake name in Catania province. Riina and Santapaola often went hunting together around local mountains, their friendship got stronger and stronger and Riina decided to support Santapaola’s faction in order to replace Calderone, historic friend of Stefano Bontade from Palermo and Giuseppe Di Cristina from Caltanissetta.
In 1978 Giuseppe Calderone was murdered; the command of the family, from that moment called “Santapaola Family”, passed to Benedetto Santapaola, who promoted Francesco Ferrera underboss, Franco Romeo consigliere, Salvatore Santapaola, Antonino Santapaola and Aldo Ercolano “capidecina”; the same year of Calderone’s murder, he was designated also the boss of Catania province and member of Regional Commission by Totò Riina. He supported “Corleonesi” during the Palermo war in 1981-1983 period, but on the other side he had to fight a war against an other Catania family, known as “Cursoti”, which moved war against him in order to control gambling and cigarettes smuggling, and an internal war against Alfio Ferlito’s faction, who wanted to avenge Calderone. Himself was seriously wounded on June 6th 1981 by a group, armed with kalashnikov and bombs, led by Salvatore Lanzafame, lieutenant of Ferlito, who died during the attack, probably shot by Antonino Santapaola.
On February 9th 1982 Salvatore Palermo and Carmelo Ternullo, members of Ferlito’s faction were murdered within their car renting; on April 26th 1982 six Santapaola’s soldiers were killed with a bomb’s attack. But the Santapaola’s revenge was terrible; on June 16th 1982 Alfio Ferlito was being took by police from Enna to Trapani’s prison, Santapaola’s killers stopped police’s car and murdered him and the entire escort formed by 4 policemen.
At the beginning of 1980s he decided, during a meeting of the Regional Commission, the murder of general Alberto Dalla Chiesa, killed in Palermo on September 3rd 1982; in 1984 he ordered to kill journalist Giuseppe Fava who wrote too many articles about his “family”; the group of killers was formed by Enzo Santapaola, Aldo Ercolano, Marcello D’Agata, Maurizio Avola and Franco Giammusso. Benedetto Santapaola was arrested in 1993 after 11 years of fugitiveness; he was sentenced to life accused of a lot of crimes, included Dalla Chiesa, Fava, Falcone and Borsellino’s excellent murders.
During 1990s Santapaola family fought a violent war against Cappello and Mazzeo families, which left hundreds of dead; after his arrest, the family is probably ran by fugitive acting boss Umberto Di Fazio, underboss Vincenzo Santapaola and consigliere Antonino Santapaola.