Italian police have arrested eight suspected Puglian mobsters for their alleged roles in whacking a boss and three soldiers from a rival clan within the Sacra Corona Unita in a long-running turf war as reported by ANSA. The Sacra Corona Unita is the least powerful of Italy's four organized crime groups, and largely is involved with contraband cigarettes and drug trafficking.
Italian authorities have arrested 19 individuals for their alleged roles in laundering money for the Puglian Mafia or Sacra Corona Unita through video poker and online gambling as reported by ANSA. Among those arrested was reputed SCU boss Albino Prudentino who "was originally stopped for racketeering and
drug-trafficking in September 2010 in Albania where he was
about to inaugurate a casino," and then "extradited to Italy in January 2011."
So nice to see that the boys are working together.
Italian police busted more than 50 suspected mobsters for their alleged roles in an international cocaine smuggling ring, and the defendants included reputed members from three of Italy's four principal Mafia groups as reported by Adnkronos:
The alleged gang used commercial maritime routes to import narcotics from Colombia and Equador to Europe via the ports of Hamburg and Antwerp, anti-Mafia investigators said. The drugs were destined for Italy, Belgium, Germany, Holland and Austria, according to investigators.
The drug ring allegedly was operated by La Cosa Nostra or Sicilian Mafia, the 'Ndrangheta or Calabrian Mafia, and the Sacra Corona Unita or Puglian Mafia. The Camorra or Neapolitan Mafia must feel so slighted for not being included.
A bomb at a vocational school in the port city of Brindisi on the Adriatic coast in Southern Italy has killed one student and injured another seven as classes were preparing to start this morning as reported by David Batty for The Guardian.
The school was named in honor of the wife of anti-Mafia prosecutor Giovanni Falcone after both were slain almost exactly twenty years ago as reported by Nick Squires for The Telegraph: "the prosecutor, his wife and their three bodyguards were killed on May 23 1992, when the Sicilian Mafia planted half a tonne of explosives on the road between Palermo's airport and the city centre."
Although responsibility for the deadly bomb has not yet been determined anti-mafia investigators are on the scene, and early suspicion is directed at the Sacra Corona Unita or Puglian Mafia "who have close links with the Russian and Albanian mafia and are linked to drug and gun running" as reported by Nick Pisa for Sky News: "Brindisi's mayor Cosimo Consales said 'this is an unprecedented attack by organised crime.'"
Tributes all across southern Italy, including in Brindisi, have been planned for this weekend to mark the 20th anniversary of Falcone's slaying, and yesterday in Washington, D.C. the FBI honored the courageous mob buster according to an agency press release:
The FBI's special relationship with Falcone was forged decades ago through two major cases in the U.S. and Italy at a time when the Mafia was powerful in both places. Louis Freeh, a federal prosecutor in New York City who would later become Director of the FBI, was cracking down on the Mafia. In a case known as the Pizza Connection, the FBI, the NYPD, and federal prosecutors teamed with Falcone and Italian authorities to bust an international heroin smuggling ring that laundered drug money through pizza parlors. The 1985 trial cemented Freeh and Falcone's personal and professional relationships. At the same time in Italy, Falcone was prosecuting his own Mafia trial -- the Maxi Trial -- wich put hundreds of mafiosi behind bars.
UPDATE: The paramilitary Carabinieri are "raiding the homes of suspected mafiosi belonging to a crime group known as the Sacra Corona Unita, or United Sacred Crown, and checking their whereabouts prior to the attack," and at least one political official believes the attack may be in reprisal for a recent crackdown against the Puglian Mafia as reported by Nick Squires for The Telegraph: "'It was a Mafia attack,' said Nicola Fratoianni, a regional official. 'A bomb placed in front of a school bearing the Falcone name is a clear message from the clans — a reprisal to recent police operations.'"
UPDATE: The bomb "was at a bus stop and timed to explode on the arrival of the bus from the nearby village of Masagne, where 10 days ago 16 alleged Mafiosi were rounded up," and "two of the injured are daughters of an anti-mafia businessman" as reported by Euro News.
UPDATE: An Italian official says the bombing "was probably carried out by a single person rather than the mafia" as reported by BBC News: "chief prosecutor Marco Dinapoli said there was 'significant' video evidence suggesting that one man had set off the device, but gave no further details."
An army officer is among the eighteen suspects arrested by Italian police in a raid targeting clans from the Sacra Corona Unita or Puglian Mafia as reported by ANSA: "the officer is suspected of helping once-fugitive clan boss Giuseppe Pacilli, who was arrested last year after running a bloody vendetta with a rival clan in the mountainous Gargano region."
The Mafia is Italy's biggest industry according to the annual report on organized crime by the business federation Confesercenti.
Mafia rackets accounted for 140 billion euros -- that's $204 billion -- or 7% of Italy's GDP last year as reported by AGI, and Mafia victims included about one million or 20% of the country's businessmen who have been extortion, loansharking and robbery targets as reported by ANSA.
Unfortunately, the credit crisis in Italy has made businesses especially vulnerable to the Mafia as reported by Adnkronos: "out of desperation they turn to mobsters who provide loans at crippling interest rates."
Old style gangsters handing out cash in bars and pool halls had been replaced by apparently respectable bankers, lawyers or notaries, the report said. "This is extortion with a clean face," it added. "Through their professions, they know the mechanisms of the legal credit market and they often know the financial position of their victims perfectly."
The Mafia "controls everything from gambling to construction and the disposal of industrial and household waste," and has "also moved into new areas of business such as public health, transport and logistics" as reported by The Telegraph.
Italy's four major mafia groups are Cosa Nostra in Sicily, 'Ndrangheta in Calabria, Camorra in Naples, and Sacra Corona Unita in Puglia.
The mob's power in Italy now extends beyond the south to the more prosperous northern regions, and the infestation is worse than the bubonic plague which decimated Europe in the Middle Ages. Black Hand. Black Death. It all comes from vermin.
Among the lucrative rackets for the Mafia groups in Italy is dumping toxic and other waste which generates 20 billion euros or nearly $30 billion a year according to the annual Ecomafia report by the environmental organization Legambiente as reported by Michael Day for The Independent:
Campania, the region around Naples whose streets are perpetually carpeted in piles of stinking garbage, is the worst-hit part of the country, it is claimed. The local mafia, the Camorra, is frequently blamed for exacerbating or even causing the rubbish crisis – by encouraging the closure of official incineration plants – in order to fan demand for its illegal dumping services.
Italian police have apprehended fugitive Francesco Campana who is the suspected top boss of Sacra Corona Unita or the Puglian Mafia as reported by The Associated Press: "The United Sacred Crown runs smuggling rings of contraband cigarettes from the Balkans and Eastern European countries."