Mega Mafia Bust Stuns Northern Italy
By Andrea Vogt in Bologna
5:35PM GMT 28 Jan 2015
Italian police arrested 160 alleged members of the ‘Ndrangheta mafia on Wednesday in an operation of “unprecedented importance”, according to the country’s top prosecutor.
The arrests took place across the country, although the majority came in dawn raids across the wealthier north of Italy, where the group expanded from its southern Calabria homeland as it extended its reach into Europe’s cocaine trade.
The charges included money laundering, counterfeiting, fraud, arson, harassment and corruption as well as drug trafficking.
Another 200 people are under investigation, including several Italians living abroad.
Police also confiscated assets worth 100 million euros, including a block of 200 flats near Parma, 15 luxury cars, 137 trucks and 70 businesses.
“This investigation of unprecedented importance,” said Italy’s top mafia prosecutor Franco Roberti said at a press conference in Bologna. “Nothing will ever be the same.”
Mr Roberti said ‘Ndrangheta spent decades infiltrating public institutions.
“These criminal associations not only aspired to material wealth, but worked very hard to develop a close relationship with the very fabric of society, which is why they were entering politics and trying to control institutions and information,” Mr Roberti told The Telegraph.
Election results in five towns between Parma and Reggio Emilia are being reviewed for vote fraud.
Six alleged ‘Ndrangheta bosses, former and currently serving police officers, a prominent local politician, and several journalists and businessmen were among those arrested.
The father of Italian footballer Vincenzo Iaquinta, an ex-Juventus striker and World Cup winner, was also among those arrested.
One of the region’s senators, Stefano Vaccari, described Wednesday’s developments as “an extraordinary blow to ‘Ndrangheta which shows the capacity of the state and the judiciary to combat organised crime.
The ‘Ndrangheta is considered the most powerful crime syndicate in Italy, having surpassed Sicily’s Cosa Nostra and the Naples-based Camorra thanks to the wealth it has amassed as the principal importer and wholesaler of cocaine produced in Latin America and smuggled into Europe via north Africa and southern Italy.
This story originally appeared in The Telegraph here: