In 1948 La Torre replaced peasant leader Placido Rizzotto in Corleone who was killed by the Mafia of Luciano Liggio. In March 1950 the young student La Torre was arrested in Bisacquino while leading the fight of peasants for land reform through occupations of large estates. He spent 18 months in jail in preventive custody before being released. In 1960 he became a member of the Central Committee of the PCI, and in 1962 he was elected as the regional secretary of the party for Sicily.
La Torre was elected in the Italian Chamber of Deputies (Italian: Camera dei Deputati) for the district of Palermo in May 1972. He was re-elected twice and remained a deputy until he was killed by the Mafia on April 30, 1982. La Torre became a member of the Antimafia Commission, formed in 1962 during the First Mafia War, which published its final report in 1976. La Torre, together with judge Cesare Terranova, wrote a minority report, which pointed to links between the Mafia and prominent politicians in particular of the Christian Democrat party (DC - Democrazia Cristiana).
On March 31, 1980, La Torre initiated a draft law that introduced a new crime in the Italian legal system, mafia conspiracy, and the possibility for the courts to seize and to confiscate the goods of the persons belonging to the mafia conspiracy.
With the inclusion of the mafia conspiracy in article 416 bis of the Italian Penal Code, a serious gap was filled. In spite of its obvious danger, mafia conspiracy had not been recognized by the Penal Code as a criminal phenomenon. As a result, many judges had not considered the Mafia a criminal association. The provisions contained in article 416 of the Penal Code concerning criminal association were suitable to cope with local and limited phenomena of associated delinquency, but not with organized crime.
However, before the law was approved in Parliament, La Torre was killed by the Corleonesi, which were engaged in a fierce internal war against rival Mafia factions (the so-called Second Mafia War) and against those representatives of the state that tried to seriously fight Cosa Nostra.
On April 30, 1982, La Torre and his driver Rosario Di Salvo were shot in a hail of bullets near the Communist Party's headquarters in Palermo. Their car was trapped in a one-way street blocked by the killers' car. Di Salvo returned the fire with a .38-caliber pistol before he was killed. The hit team was composed of Pino Greco, Giuseppe Lucchese, Nino Madonia, Mario Prestifilippo and Salvatore Cucuzza. La Torre was sentenced to death by the Sicilian Mafia Commission because of his endeavour against the Mafia.
The day after General Carlo Alberto Dalla Chiesa was appointed as prefect for Palermo to stop the violence of the Second Mafia War. La Torre’s law was approved only after Dalla Chiesa was murdered as well as on September 3, 1982, on the orders of Mafia boss Salvatore Riina of the Corleonesi. That compelled Parliament to adopt the law La Torre initiated in a rush together with other emergency measures against the Mafia.
Article 416 of the Italian Penal Code that has its origins in the fascist period (1930), defined simple organized crime on the basis of the presence of three elements: the associative bond, the organized structure, the criminal program. Organized crime of the mafia type presents additional specific characteristics: the associative bond has such an intimidating capacity to cause subjection and omertà. It is at such a level that it may be considered a system, an absolute rule of obedience and a law of silence that first of all demands, from the entire population, the refusal to collaborate with law enforcement. An actual submission to the power of the mafia.
According to article 416 bis, introduced by the new law: