Italy: 46 Suspected Mafia Members Detained for Extortion, Drug Trafficking

Published: 07 February 2017

Schermata 2017-02-07 alle 15.42.36 1Italian police bust illegal gambling ring (Photo: Italian Carabinieri)

By Matteo Civillini

Italian military police detained Tuesday 46 suspected members of one of the most powerful groups of the Camorra crime network for mafia association, extortion, drug trafficking and handling of stolen goods, among other crimes.

Some of the 46 allegedly forced shopkeepers to install their illegal gaming terminals and then collected a much higher profit than legitimate companies do, the Carabinieri told OCCRP partner IRPI.

Antimafia prosecutors claim the Casalesi clan from Casal di Principe, near Naples, managed the lucrative on-line gambling platform widely marketed in bars and shops across its stronghold areas.

According to authorities, the huge profits derived from the activity were then used to grant monthly allowances to families of the group’s leaders currently behind bars.

Police told IRPI the clan had exclusive control over casino games offered by DBG Poker, a UK-based operator already banned by Italian gambling authorities.

"The clan affiliates managed the administrative side of the gambling sites and handled the players’ accounts," Captain Simone Calabrò of the Casal di Principe Carabinieri unit told IRPI. "The group kept 60 per cent of the profits, giving the other 40 percent to the bar owners."

Previous police operations have shown that illegal on-line gambling represents a considerable source of income for the Casalesi syndicate. In January 2016 anti-mafia authorities arrested 11 people, including a well-known gambling entrepreneur, for having conspired to run a network of casino sites on behalf of the group.

"Online gambling is a traditional business of the clan," said Calabrò. "It guarantees a steady income, part of which is provided to the families of prominent members in order to secure their continued affiliation to the group."

Among the arrested on Tuesday are relatives of some of the most notorious Camorra figures, including the son of Francesco Schiavone, the Casalesi boss who was handed a life sentence in 2008.