Rosetta Cutolo, with her distinct Italian heritage, was a notorious mobster in the underworld of crime. Born into the tumultuous realm of organized crime, she was the sister of Raffaele Cutolo, the eminent boss of the Nuova Camorra Organizzata (NCO). This organization was Raffaele’s vision to rejuvenate the Camorra. Interestingly, while Raffaele was often incarcerated, the reins of the NCO were handed over to Rosetta, who effectively managed its day-to-day operations. Due to her piercing gaze, she earned the nickname “Uocchie ‘e gghiaccio” or “ice eyes”.
Background and Rise
In the quaint town of Ottaviano, near Naples, Rosetta lived a seemingly simple life, nurturing her roses alongside her mother. A grey-haired woman, she exuded an aura of piety. Yet, beneath this facade was a force to be reckoned with. For over a decade and a half, she was the driving force behind her brother, relaying his commands from prison and gaining the loyalty of his followers in the outside world. As per a local from Ottaviano, the NCO would have crumbled without her presence.
Unlike her brother, who often found himself in the spotlight for his courtroom theatrics and interviews, Rosetta preferred to remain in the shadows. The siblings shared a complex relationship, characterized by both affection and conflict. Their legal counsel, Paolo Trofino, once remarked on their tumultuous bond, indicating Rosetta’s wish for her brother to be more discreet. Her authority was evident in the NCO’s headquarters, the Castle Mediceo, a sprawling 16th-century edifice equipped with lavish amenities. This castle, purchased for billions of lire, facilitated communication for Cutolo from his prison confines.
Life on the Run and Capture
Adept in financial matters, Rosetta Cutolo was a key player in the world of organized crime. She liaised with cocaine barons from South America and even attempted to orchestrate the bombing of a police establishment. Her influence was captured in the film, Il camorrista. Her criminal ventures included peace negotiations between the Sicilian Mafia and Camorra factions.
However, in 1981, the law almost caught up with her during a police raid. Ingeniously, Rosetta managed to flee, concealed under a rug in a car that was chauffeured past security checkpoints by a local priest. This marked the beginning of a decade-long period during which she evaded the law, orchestrating her operations from various safe locations.
In a surprising turn of events, she willingly surrendered in 1993, expressing her weariness of life as a fugitive. Her legal battles saw her facing numerous charges, including association with the Mafia, but she managed to evade most severe penalties, with her inconspicuous appearance possibly playing a role in her favor.
Raffaele Cutolo always defended his sister’s innocence, asserting that she was merely following his instructions. Yet, many speculate that he aimed to protect her by downplaying her involvement. While many in the NCO doubted her influence due to her gender, prosecutor Antonio Laudati believed that she was the true power behind the NCO, dominating even over her brother.
Legacy and Passing
Rosetta Cutolo left an indelible mark on the world of organized crime. Despite challenges stemming from her gender in a male-dominated sphere, she carved a niche for herself. Her death on 14 October 2023 marked the end of an era, with her passing away at the age of 86.