Former Mafioso says Mafia tested drones before the U.S.

June 13, 2013 at 5:41 PM

PALERMO, Italy, June 13 (UPI) -- A former Mafioso says Sicily's Cosa Nostra Mafia was testing drone bomber planes before the United States was.

While testifying Tuesday during a trial related to the killing of Magistrate Paolo Borsellino, former Mafioso Gaspare Spatuzza said he was ordered in the 1990s by senior bosses to buy and test radio-controlled aircraft with explosives attached, The Telegraph (Britain) reported.

"Graviano ordered me to buy a radio-controlled aircraft," Spatuzza said of one of the Graviano brothers -- two Mafia bosses in the 1990s. "He said others had already bought them and we needed to carry out tests for transforming them into flying bombs by loading them with explosives."

"I carried out some tests," he said. "We needed to learn how to pilot it and steer it toward targets, loading it with a modest amount of explosives."

Spatuzza, who was arrested in 1997 before he decided to cooperate with investigators, didn't say what kind of aircraft was used but that he spent about $665 on the aircraft.

The timing of the alleged drone tests coincided with the Costa Nostra's use of advanced radio-detonated explosives in the 1990s, including a car bomb in Palermo that killed Borsellino.

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