Some 70 arrested in major anti-mafia operation in Italy

2021-04-08 14:06:36 GMT2021-04-08 22:06:36(Beijing Time) Xinhua English

ROME, April 8 (Xinhua) -- Some 70 people were arrested in a major anti-mafia operation in Italy on Thursday, and economic assets and estates worth around 1 billion euros (1.19 billion U.S. dollars) were seized, local media reported.

The operation was run by the National Anti-Mafia Prosecution office in coordination with the anti-mafia district directorates of Rome, Naples, Reggio Calabria, and Catanzaro, according to Italy's main business daily Il Sole 24 Ore.

All of the people involved were variously charged with mafia association, money laundering and tax fraud in relation to oil products trade, the newspaper reported citing police.

In an online press conference on Thursday, Catanzaro chief prosecutor and anti-mafia judge Nicola Gratteri said the operation was "the continuation of Rinascita Scott probe," referring to the probe that led to an ongoing so-called "maxi trial" against 325 alleged 'Ndrangheta members in Lamezia Terme, Calabria region in southern Italy.

The "maxi trial," which started early this year, stemmed from an investigation launched by Gratteri in 2016, which ended up with hundreds of arrests carried out in Italy, Germany, Switzerland and Bulgaria in December 2019.

This is Italy's largest mafia trial in more than 30 years. Along with the alleged members of the mob, dozens of entrepreneurs, police officers, local civil servants and politicians stood accused of either being external associates or having aided the mafia.

Thursday's operation resulted from four separate probes carried out by prosecutors in the four cities involved, Ansa news agency said.

Officers of Italy's finance police and Carabinieri military police special force (ROS) were deployed in the raid.

"This operation proves once again the great synergy existing between mafia groups," Gratteri said, explaining that the latest arrests were connected with "one of the laundering activities of the Mancuso family."

The Mancuso is a most powerful 'Ndrangheta clan rooted in the Calabrian town of Limbadi, and a main defendant in the ongoing maxi trial. The clan's interests, according to Gratteri, include trade in oil products.

Of Italy's three main traditional mafia groups -- Sicilian Cosa Nostra, Naples' Camorra, and Calabrian 'Ndrangheta -- the latter is believed to have grown strongest and richest in the last decade.

According to both Italian police and Europol, its economic empire extends well over Italy and Europe, and its wealth mainly results from its control over cocaine trafficking from South America. Enditem