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Symbolbild Ndrangheta in Rom ARCHIV
Image: picture alliance/ROPI

Italy busts 'Ndrangheta mafia network

July 22, 2015

Italian police have carried out a swoop on gambling companies run by the 'Ndrangheta mafia, both in Italy and abroad. The organization, from southern Italy, has seen its power grow in recent years, spreading north.

https://p.dw.com/p/1G3Oy

Police in Italy claimed a major breakthrough against a money-laundering operation used by the 'Ndrangheta mafia on Wednesday, after a series of raids.

Among the targets of the operation were 1,500 betting shops, 82 gambling websites, 45 Italian companies and 11 foreign firms. Also included were a large number of property assets, police said in a statement.

Police believe that the companies, including six that operated out of Malta, were being used to launder large sums of illegally-obtained cash. Firms were also operating in Spain, Romania and Austria.

The police issued 41 arrest warrants, 28 to group members already in jail and 13 to individuals who were placed under house arrest. Wednesday's swoop comes after multiple arrrests earlier this year.

The 'Ndrangheta, based in the southern region of Calabria, is one of Italy's main organized crime groups, along with Sicily's Cosa Nostra and the Neapolitan Camorra. Amid Italy's recent economic slump it has grown in power, and has become increasingly influential in the north of Italy, away from its traditional power base.

The group has grown rich through the drugs trade, and is one of Europe's biggest importers of South American cocaine. It has strong ties to Mexican and Colombian cartels and, according to anti-mafia prosecutor Franco Roberti, enjoys "absolute supremacy" over international drug trafficking.

Duisburg conviction quashed

Meanwhile, the DPA news agency reported that an Italian court quashed the murder conviction of a member of the 'Ndrangheta mafia for the 2007 Duisburg massacre. Six people died in the incident, which was said to have brought to an end a bloody feud between the Nirta-Strangio and Pelle-Voltari crime families.

The victims were leaving a birthday party at an Italian restuarant in the early hours of the morning when the shooters struck in the western German city. After riddling their vehicles with bullets, the attackers apparently approached and shot the victims in the head from close range before fleeing the scene

In 2013, Sebastiano Nirta was given a life sentence for his role in the attack. However, the appeals court of Reggio Calabria quashed the conviction on Thursday. Nirta will nevertheless remain in jail, having also been sentenced to 12 years for his membership of the mafia. Six others are people are serving life sentences in connection with the Duisburg killings.

rc/msh (dpa, Reuters)

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