WORLD Over 300 arrested, 15 mln euros seized in Italy's major anti-mafia operation


Over 300 arrested, 15 mln euros seized in Italy's major anti-mafia operation


21:39, December 19, 2019


File photo

ROME, Dec. 19 (Xinhua) -- White collars and public officials were among over 300 people arrested in a major anti-mafia operation carried out in Italy in the early hours of Thursday.

The raid targeted the 'Ndrangheta mob based in southern Calabria region, although arrests were also made in other regions across the country where the group was allegedly operating, police said in a statement.

More specifically, the operation hit the powerful Mancuso clan rooted in the province of Vibo Valentia.

Some of the suspects were also located and arrested in Germany, Switzerland, and Bulgaria in cooperation with local law-enforcement forces, Italian authorities added.

Coordinated by anti-mafia prosecutors in Catanzaro -- Calabria's regional capital, the operation involved at least 2,500 officers of the Carabinieri military police special operations unit (ROS).

Yet, the two-year long investigation overall involved 416 suspects, prosecutors specified in a press conference in Catanzaro later on Thursday.

All of them were variously charged with mafia association, murder, extortion and usury, fictitious registration of assets, money laundering, and other crimes aggravated by mafia methods.

"This is the largest operation against mafia after the maxi-trial in Palermo (a landmark process against Sicilian mafia in the 1980s)," Catanzaro prosecutor Nicola Gratteri told state-run Rai News broadcast.

"We have fully disrupted the clans based in the Vibo Valentia province, although the operation has reached out to other regions all over Italy," he added.

Among those brought to jail, or put under house arrests, were not only alleged 'Ndrangheta affiliates but also many public officials, local and regional politicians, lawyers, and at least one former police chief and one former member of parliament.

"The results of the investigation once again show the dangerousness of 'Ndrangheta, which does not stem only from the military power with which they control the territory," Carabinieri ROS Commander Pasquale Angelosanto told Rai News after the press conference.

"It also comes from their large supply of money, which gives them a strong corruption power that is followed by subsequently ties with businesses and professionals, and by the infiltration into local public administrations," the officer explained.

Assets worth some 15 million euros (16.7 million U.S. dollars) were seized during the raids.

Among Italy's three traditional mafia organizations -- Sicily's Cosa Nostra, Naples-based Camorra, and Calabrian 'Ndrangheta -- the last one is now seen as the richest and most dangerous.

In a 2013 report on Italian organized crime, the European Union (EU) Law Enforcement Cooperation agency Europol described the Calabrian mob as being "among the most powerful organized crime groups at a global level." 

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