50 mn seized from Calabrian businessmen, Mob front men

(ANSA) – CATANZARO, MAR 11 – Italian police on Thursday
seized some 20 million euros in assets from Catanzaro
businessmen and alleged front men linked to the Calabrian ‘Ndrangheta mafia, judicial sources said.
    Police said 10 arrest warrants were served in the operation.
    Prosecutor Nicola Gratteri, who is leading the current ‘maxi-trial’ against ‘Ndrangheta, said the businessmen’s firms
had been able to dominate the construction business in and
around Catanzaro thanks to their ties to the local Mob.
    Construction entrepreneur Giuseppe Lobello, 50, was said to be
linked to the Arena clan of Isola Capo Rizzuto.
    He was the alleged bagman for protection money from Catanzaro
businesses, police said.
    Gratteri, who has lived under police protection for 30 years,
said the probe, Operation Crocodile, has shown a direct link
between the business world and the Calabrian crime world.
    ‘Ndrangheta is Italy’s richest and most powerful mafia thanks to
its control of the European cocaine trade.
    All its activities have been estimated to be worth the
equivalent of at least three per cent of Italian GDP.
    Its tentacles have spread from its southern Italian base to
central and northern Italy, northern Europe, North and South
America and Australia, among other areas.
    Its influence is especially strong in the affluent northern
Italian regions of Lombardy, Piedmont and Emilia-Romagna, but it
has also spread to Lazio and Rome.
    The other main mafias in Italy are Cosa Nostra in Sicily, long
more powerful and dangerous than ‘Ndrangheta, and the Camorra in
Campania.
    There is a smaller mafia in Puglia, the Sacra Corona Unita
(United Holy Crown, SCU), which is generally considered less
dangerous and expansive.
    The biggest ever trial into ‘Ndrangheta started in Lamezia Terme
in mid-January.
    The trial delves into the activities of the ‘Ndrangheta clans in
Vibo Valentia and their links to the political, institutional,
economic and rogue Masonic worlds controlling all aspects of
local life in Calabria.
    It is the biggest mafia trial in Italy since the so-called ‘maxi-trial’ of Cosa Nostra in Sicily from 1986 to 1992, which
severely weakened the Sicilian Mob.
    The Lamezia trial, which is expected to last around three years,
has over 300 defendants who are facing hundreds if charges.
    The defendants include local politicians, businessmen, police
and other institutional figures accused of helping ‘Ndrangheta
hold sway over Calabrian life.
    “We will show the asphyxiation of Calabrian life by ‘Ndrangheta,” said Gratteri in his opening remarks. (ANSA).
   

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