‘How To Become A Mob Boss’ Episode 3 Recap & Ending: What Happens To Salvatore Riina?

The third episode of How to Become a Mob Boss focuses on the life of Salvatore Riina and his quest to become the boss of bosses. The underworld kingpin had risen to prominence during the 1930s in Sicily and was well-known for the terror that he had spread there. The story of Riina’s life has been depicted in detail, starting from his crest to the end of his life. Violence has been the only way that Riina has known, making him one of the most notorious criminals of his time. What message does Riina want to give to his opponents? How does he manage to become the boss of bosses? Let’s find out!


How Did Riina Come To Prominence?

The way in which the mob bosses perceive emotions is different, as they know to be ruled by fear. The extreme violence caused by some of the mob bosses is effectively demonstrated by Sicily’s boss of bosses, Salvatore Toto Riina. He was involved in mass murders and was hungry for absolute power, using violence on a national level. His nature had earned him the title of “The Beast.” The newfound Sicilian Mafia had diverse means of earning loads of money as he was into drug trafficking, weapon smuggling, and the real estate business. He has been said to be involved in more than 800-1000 ruthless murders. He had learned the art of violence through practice. Dana Renga, a professor of Italian film and culture at Ohio State University, says that Riina was born in Corleone in 1930. Robin Pickering-Iazzi, a professor of Italian literature at the University of Wisconsin, says that Corleone, being a rural town, had a strong mafia presence in those times. Riina’s father and brother, being involved in the mafia business, had ignited the spark of his interest in the business. The author of Excellent Cadavers, Alexander Stille, states that he preferred secrecy and used it as one of his strongest weapons. He was not of the opinion of sharing power and took complete control of Corleone in 1974. He, however, had greater ambitions and was not interested in money, but was more inclined towards power and worked towards becoming the Sicilian boss.

Why Did He Want To Stop Presses?

Riina wanted to stop the press as it brought out the atrocities of the mobs. He wanted to stop the revelation of business deals by the press. Some examples of how the mafia has used force to stop the press include Kid Cann, who suspected and gunned down Walter Ligget after he embarked on a mission to report his corrupt business. Vito Genovese, the New York mob boss, had fled to Italy to avoid murder charges after killing the anti-fascist newspaper editor Carlo Tresca. It is said that Pablo Escobar killed the publisher and editor of a Columbian newspaper as he focused on drug trafficking. Their offices were also bombed.


In 1978, Riina started facing challenges from Mario Francese, a journalist in Giornale di Sicilia. His topic included highlighting Riina’s role in a lucrative public project, the Garcia Dam. He investigated the source of the funds worth 200 million dollars. Mario had started joining the dots, which didn’t sit right with Riina. He ordered his brother-in-law, Leoluca Bagarella, to kill Mario, which was done, and it sent out a direct message to others. John Alite, the former enforcer of the Gambino crime family, says that the mob is universally motivated by violence. He further states that without violence, the mafia will not be able to retain their business or survive long.

What Happened After Riina Joined The Commission?

Nine years after coming into power, Riina focused on increasing power. He started facing the commission known as the Cupola, which is primarily the governing body of the mafia. Riina, being a part of the commission in 1969, wanted to attain ultimate supremacy and become the boss of bosses. He planned on uprooting the major rival organizations from the inside. He made secret side deals with other mafia families within Sicily that helped in killing all the bosses and filling in those spots with mafiosis, who were Riina’s men!


However, Riina couldn’t get to some of his rivals, like Stefano Bontate, who had a close relationship with Salvatore Inzerillo. They were together, opposing Riina. Bontate gets hunted down by Riina’s men on his 42nd birthday in Palermo. The death of Inzerillo followed soon after. Inzerillo’s son Guiseppe had vowed revenge but got brutally murdered when he was just 26 years old. This was a clear message for Riina’s rivals to not meddle in his matters!

Why Did He Want To Silence The Government?

A major goal of Riina was to silence the government, as it was very important to control the lawmakers to portray greater control. During the early 80s, he established a culture of fear and violence, causing random killings. The citizens were terrorized! The government decided to send in one of their most powerful police officers, General Alberto Dalla Chiesa. Just as he arrived in Palermo in May 1982, he was killed. His death had snatched the people’s hopes of living safely in Sicily. His intention was to terrorize society through violent measures.


As per Michael Franzese, the former Capo in the Colombo crime family, complete control over enemies was required so that no loose ends were left. Some examples of how the mafias clear off their enemies can be seen when Whitey Bulger murdered his rival gang leader, Al Notarangeli. Robert Trimbole, also called the Australian monster, killed the anti-drug campaigner Donald Mackay to keep his business safe. Joaquin Guzman tried for 10 years to kill Ramin Arellano Felix, his rival cartel gang’s leader. It was important that they sealed the gates against their enemies to portray full authority.

What Was The Measure Of Rivalry Between Buscetta And Riina?

Tommaso Buscetta was one rival that Riina couldn’t reach. He was also known as the boss of two worlds due to his business on both sides of the Atlantic. He was involved in the drug trade and later moved to Brazil. He was a major part of the Mafia Commission in Sicily and acted as an ally to major rivals of Riina. More than a dozen of the family members of Buscetta had been killed by Riina to punish him and bring him out of his hiding. His sons, son-in-law, nephews, and others are brutally murdered by Riina’s men. The innocent family members are killed to help him find Buscetta, but to no avail!


How Does Buscetta Cause Riina’s Decline?

Eventually, after a few days, Buscetta comes out of hiding, resulting in the Brazilian authorities arresting him. He was brought back to Italy in 1984 and taken into police custody. A police officer, Giovanni Falcone, had decided to make the most of his current circumstances by asking Buscetta to collaborate. He started to testify against the involvement of the Commission in many murders. Riina’s inability to hunt Buscetta had dire consequences! Emily Sweeney, the reporter for the Boston Globe, is of the opinion that mob bosses tend to become more dangerous when they are concerned.

Falcone brought in arrest warrants for 366 people on the commission. The trial was called the “Maxi Trial,” which put the entire mafia community on trial and was focused on the elimination of the mafia. Out of 475 people, 342 were found guilty, spreading dread among the other mafiosos. They wanted to collaborate with the government, and that is when Riina tried threatening them. In 1992, Giovanni Falcone returned to Palermo, and Riina had plotted his revenge. He had bombed his car, sending out a message that he was not afraid of even the highest authority. The Italian state had sent 7,000 army troops to Sicily to control Riina’s atrocities as retaliation. Riina is caught from his hideout within the next 6 months. He was in prison for the rest of his life, and he died there on his 87th birthday. He remained a mystery to the world!


Final Thoughts

The aspirations of Riina to rise to the top of all the mafias and become the boss of bosses have been brought out in this episode. The third episode focuses on the violence caused by Riina and the reign of terror that he established. It educates us on why it is important for a mob boss to tie up all the loose ends, as it might cause them trouble in the future. The series helps us understand the decisions and thought processes of the mob bosses in the long run.

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Debjyoti Dey
Debjyoti Dey
Debjyoti’s obsession with creativity and travel fervor has helped her branch out into the entertainment genre. Her love for psychological thrillers helps her get a daily dose of adrenaline. A regular caricature of the films and its characters is what keeps her going!

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