Antonino Vadala, Bruno Vadala, and Pietro Catroppa have been detained by Slovak police in their investigation of the murders of investigative reporter Jan Kuciak and his fiancee.
Antonino and Bruno are brothers, Pietro Catroppa is their cousin, according to Repubblica.
Both the Vadalas and Catroppa have connections to the Italian ‘Ndrangheta mafia, which Kuciak was investigating prior to his death. Kuciak was researching the criminal group’s presence in eastern Slovakia and their role in defrauding the Slovakian state of EU funds in an agriculture scheme, as published in a series of stories by the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP), the Czech Centre for Investigative Journalism (CCIJ), and the Investigative Reporting Project Italy (IRPI).
The stories, which use Kuciak’s unfinished reporting, revealed a link between the ‘Ndrangheta clans in Calabria and Slovak Prime Minister Robert Fico’s government. Maria Troskova, a former Miss Universe contestant, who was found to have business connections to Vadala, stepped down from her post as assistant to the Prime Minister yesterday, along with Viliam Jasan, Secretary of the State Security Council, and the Minister of Culture, Marek Madaric.
“It is credible families from Calabria who are behind the murder. ‘Ndrangheta is capable of doing such things,” said Nicola Gratteri, the main anti-mafia prosecutor in Calabria, to the IRPI.
Vadala, who has had previous confrontations with the law, hails from Bova Marina, a Calabrian town controlled by the ‘Ndrangheta. After first appearing in Slovakia in the early 2000s, the Vadala family grew an agricultural empire that has yielded them over €13 million in EU farming subsidies. Kuciak was killed before he or other reporters had proven any involvement by the Vadalas in organized crime, but his research showed a string of fraud, tax evasion, and extortion charges both in Slovakia and Italy.
Pietro Catroppa’s father was investigated by police for his ties to the Vadala clan in Bova Marina - his nickname was “Mastro di Giornata,” someone responsible for coordinating clan operations and recruitment for the ‘Ndrangheta.
In 2016, Catroppa did business with Slavomir Jasan, the son of former member of Slovak parliament, Viliam Jasan, who yesterday resigned. It was the elder Jasan who introduced Maria Troskova-a former business partner of Vadala- to the Prime Minister. She too, stepped down yesterday.
Clarification: This story has been clarified to more accurately reflect the nature of the police action in this case.
Calabrian expat Antonino Vadalà was already a wealthy man with a successful cattle business in Slovakia when he bought his way into the ‘Ndrangheta, Italy’s most powerful mafia, and opened a new cocaine-trafficking route into southern Europe. Here’s how he did it — and how the cops shut it down.
One year ago, a killer snuffed out the lives of an investigative journalist working on one of the biggest stories of his career and the woman he intended to marry. In day-by-day detail, OCCRP outlines how the assassinations transpired and what happened in the aftermath.