Italian Police Nab Over 300 in Largest Anti-Mafia Raid in 35 Years
Italy’s police said Friday that 334 mafia-linked suspects were detained in an early Thursday morning operation that was conducted simultaneously in four countries. Among the suspects are prominent politicians, lawyers, accountants and a police chief.
Around 3,000 officers raided properties in 12 Italian provinces as well as in Switzerland, Germany and Bulgaria. They jailed 260 suspected members and associates of the ‘Ndrangheta syndicate and placed another 70 under house arrest.
Among the arrested was a former MP from ex-Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi’s Forza Italia party, the president of the Calabrian mayor’s association, a former member of the Democratic Party’s national assembly, and an array of civil servants and other white-collar professionals accused of working with the mob.
Charges against the suspects range from murder, extortion, money laundering, and drug trafficking, to usury, fraud, and corruption.
Nicola Gratteri, the prosecutor who coordinated the operation, called the crackdown the “biggest” anti-mafia operation since a 1984 action that led to a landmark trial against some 450 Sicilian mafia members, according to the New York Times.
Police arrested Luigi Mancuso, whom officials described as the head of the Mancuso clan, based in the city of Vibo Valentia.
Thursday’s action “completely dismembered the top ranks of the Mancuso family,” a long-established ’Ndrangheta clan with links to the United States, Gratteri said.
Authorities also seized or froze property with a total value of approximately 15 million euros (US $16.6 million).
Officials said through this operation, named “Scott-Rinascita,” they have dismantled a major crime family within the ’Ndrangheta, Italy’s most powerful mafia syndicate, based in the southern region of Calabria.
According to authorities, the Mancuso family had infiltrated local politics, as well as the local economy. The raid had been scheduled for Friday but was quickly brought forward a day when investigators discovered that suspected mobsters and their associates had been tipped off to the impending arrests.
Gratteri said the investigation began shortly after he was appointed chief prosecutor of Catanzaro, in May 2016.
“Now it’s up to civil society to occupy the spaces that we created today, otherwise we’re back to square one, and criminals will reoccupy those spaces,” Gratteri said.