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Provenzano Arrested
Provenzano Arrested

Mafia Boss's Encrypted Messages Deciphered
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"Looks like kindergarten cryptography to me. It will keep your kid sister out, but it won't keep the police out. But what do you expect from someone who is computer illiterate?" security guru Bruce Schneier, author of several books on cryptography, told Discovery News.

Indeed, no high-tech ran the Mafia network under Provenzano's rule. Top Mafia businesses were conducted on an obsolete Olivetti Lettera 32 typewriter. Pizzini were delivered by a chain of messengers.

The fact that the boss code was rather straightforward may be explained by Provenzano's lack of education. It stopped when he dropped out of school at about eight.

Anna Petrozzi is an editor at Antimafia 2000, a magazine that Provenzano read, as copies found in his hideaway attest.

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"The police are not new to these coded messages. When they arrested in 2002 Antonio Giuffré, one of his right-hand men then turned informer, and about 30 pizzini came to light," she told Discovery News.

Those pizzini helped investigators enormously. Once the cryptograms were decoded, several members of Provenzano's close circle were identified, a step which ultimately led to his arrest.

"Now we will have to work on the newly discovered pizzini, which contain several coded names. We have known the system used to code them since 2002," assistant state prosecutor Giuseppe Pignatone told state television RAI 2 on Thursday.

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Picture: AP Photo/Italian Police | AP Photo/Luca Bruno |
Contributers: Rossella Lorenzi |

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