Italy launches sweeping Mafia raids

AFP-JIJI

Italian police launched sweeping raids Friday in a vast anti-Mafia operation whose targets included top organized crime bosses accused of extortion, drug trafficking and murder.

In “one of the largest operations ever carried out” in Rome, the blitz struck “a deadly blow to the Mafia cell that had been operating in the capital for years,” the police said.

Amid accusations of drug trafficking, usury, extortion and control of the slot machine market, 51 people who helped lead “illegal activities” in Rome and the suburb of Ostia on the coast were served with arrest warrants, police spokesman Mario Viola said.

A second operation targeted members of the immensely powerful ‘Ndrangheta criminal organization in the city of Catanzaro in the southern region of Calabria, Viola said. There, the arrest warrants concerned 50 to 70 people, “including entrepreneurs, politicians and lawyers,” he said.

The Rome raids aimed in particular to root out gangsters with links to Sicilian Mafia that have infiltrated the Italian capital, buying up bars and restaurants as fronts for criminal activities.

The warrants were the result of a long investigation during which detectives used wiretaps to uncover “every criminal step in the Mafia organization,” police said, from the adoption of new members into the fold to dirty deals between bosses over territory.