Italian police said they launched two major anti-mafia operations Friday in Rome and the southern region of Calabria, targeting around 100 people.
The Rome operation, described by Italian media as the largest ever undertaken in the capital region, targeted people who helped lead “illegal activities” in the city and the suburb of Ostia, police spokesman Mario Viola told AFP.
The second, entirely separate operation targeted members of the Ndrangheta in Catanzaro, Calabria, Viola said, adding that 50 arrest warrants were issued for each of the operations.
In Calabria, the arrest warrants concerned “50 to 70 people, including entrepreneurs, politicians and lawyers”, Viola said.
In Italy, arrest warrants can be issued against people already detained for other offences.
By early morning, the police were unable to say how many had been detained as part of the raids.
According to the Italian news agency Ansa, around 500 police officers took part in the Rome operation, “the largest ever undertaken” by the police in and around the capital. A helicopter, dog units and maritime police took part in it.
Italian authorities say Canada, especially Ontario, has become a base for the Calabrian Mafia, or ‘Ndrangheta — particularly for money laundering — because Canada is perceived to have a lax approach to dealing with the Mob.
Italian anti-Mafia prosecutor Roberto DiPalma revealed to a joint Radio-Canada/Toronto Star investigation that Canada may have become a place where Mob figures can hide, hoping that Canadian justice won’t touch them.
“Canada is virgin territory for the ‘Ndrangheta,” said DiPalma. “They infiltrated the fabric of the economy, especially through the construction industry.”
Some Italian prosecutors are openly frustrated by Canada’s handling of the murderous, wealthy and drug trafficking ‘Ndrangheta.
“It is 10 years since we told the Canadians to pay attention because ‘Ndrangheta is very present in Canada, mostly in Toronto,” said prosecutor Nicola Gratteri. “We did not have good collaboration with the Canadian police.”
Rome, 8 May – An upscale tourist development in southern Italy was among some 40 million euros of assets impounded by police on Tuesday from a Rome-based businessman suspected of links with the Calabrian mafia.
The tourist complex in San Nicola Arcella in the province of Cosenza contains a sports centre and 34 apartments with a private beach, according to police.
Police said they also seized two villas with swimming pools, a sports club and a number of luxury vehicles including two Ferraris, a Porsche and two Hummers.
The seizures took place during operations in the Lazio region around Rome, in the central Tuscany region and the southern Calabria, Campania and Basilicata regions.
The businessman’s extravagant lifestyle was at odds with his declared income and he used various false names to try and conceal the extent of his assets, according to investigators.
Investigators allege the businessman has close ties with the Calabrian mafia or ‘Nrdrangheta’s Muto family which is believed to launder the proceeds of its criminal activities including usury, embezzlement and large-scale fraud.