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Italian police round up Rome and Calabria Mafia suspects

Authorities in Italy have arrested over 150 people suspected of involvement with the Mafia. The police reportedly caught some big fish, as well as less-significant players involved in covering up criminal activities.

Special forces units and helicopters swept through Rome on Friday as 500 police officers conducted a raid, considered one of the largest ever seen in the ancient capital city, according to the Italian media and police officials.

The 51 suspects came from "the beating heart of the Roman and Sicilian crime world…which have for years shared up criminal business, particularly along the coast," police spokesperson Mario Viola told the news agency AFP.

Arrests included key members of the Fasciani and Triassi D'Agati families, he added. Authorities were also able to arrest the head of the Triassi family, Vincenzo, and his wife on the island of Tenerife.

Police had "struck a deadly blow to the mafia cell which had been operating in the capital for years," Viola said.

The Rome-based mobsters face charges of corruption, extortion and international drug trafficking.

Calabria round up

A separate raid also took place in the southern Calabria region, home to the 'Ndrangheta criminal organization, whose influence spreads well beyond Italian shores.

Police arrested at least 65 suspects for alleged drug trafficking and extortion. Some of the arrest warrants also included allegations of murder dating from 2005 to 2011. The raid occurred in the city of Lamezia Terme, which lies roughly 132 kilometers (82 miles) northwest of the Sicilian city Messina.

One of the southern clan's most profitable money-earning tactics involved staging fake car crashes, according to the lead investigator on the case.

"The insurance scam permitted the boss to manage his clan, to buy guns and drugs, and to pay his men," Ruperti told the news agency Reuters.

Between a network of local insurers, doctors, lawyers and car repairmen, the local mafia earned over a million annually with the scam.

Police arrested fellow police officers, businessesmen, lawyers and doctors linked to the case and confiscated 1.2 million euros ($1.6 million) in assets.

kms/dr (AFP, Reuters, dpa)