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Twenty Calabrian mafia suspects arrested in north

14 gennaio 2016 | 16.24
LETTURA: 2 minuti

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Italian police on Thursday arrested 20 Calabrian mafia suspects in the northwest city of Turin accused of extortion, drugs trafficking, usury and running illegal betting shops.

During the operation, police raided 41 homes and seized seven items of real estate, six vehicles, 11 bank accounts, two safes, a trading licence and two companies linked to the suspects, investigators said.

"The suspects were linked to the hierarchy in Calabria but enjoyed autonomy and power to act," read a police warrant.

"They used intimidation and the[mafia's] traditional code of silence to commit crimes and gain indirect control of economic activities, make business decisions and acquire an unfair competitive advantage."

A severed pig's head was sent to one extortion victim with a message reading "yours will be next", investigators said.

The alleged gang's extortion victims included gamblers, businessmen, craftsmen, shopkeepers and street traders, according to investigators.

The self-styled "bosses" of Turin lorded it over their victims, extorting some 100,000 euros per month of 'protection money' from them, said investigators.

None of the gang's victims had reported the extortion racket, although some had to borrow money from their children to pay the 'protection money', according to police.

The gang also had weapons and police recovered two hand-grenades from one of the properties they raided in Turin, police said.

Drug trafficking, extortion and money-laundering rackets have in recent decades made the Calabrian mafia or 'Ndrangheta Italy's wealthiest and most powerful criminal organisation.

It possesses "virtually unlimited" assets and has colonised Italy's wealthy, industrialised north according to the national anti-mafia directorate.

The 'Ndrangheta has operates throughout Italy as well as in Europe but its influence and networks extend from Australia to North and South America.

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