82 suspected mafiosi have been arrested in Italy in a large-scale crackdown on organized crime. The action, described by investigators as “game over”, was aimed at members of the so-called Società foggiana, the mafia in Foggia, and their businesses, the police said. The suspects are accused of drug trafficking, illegal possession of weapons and extortion. Weapons and drugs were also confiscated during the raid in the province of Foggia in southern Italy’s Puglia.
Three clans apparently made common cause
The Carabinieri’s investigation revealed that members of three clans of the Foggia mafia appeared to have reached an agreement involving the trafficking of drugs worth millions of euros a year. The clans therefore decided to end their rivalries in favor of monopolizing the cocaine trade in the southern Italian region. The proceeds flowed into a “common fund” from which the activities of the clans and the families of convicted mafiosi were financed.
According to the authorities, the business model of the three clans was based on the “systematic blackmail” of other actors and on an “aggressive and careful control system” of trade. The authorities declared war on the Foggia mafia a long time ago: The latest operation is the third blow in seven years – 150 arrests are the result of the efforts. Italy’s Interior Minister Matteo Piantedosi thanked the emergency services.
Life imprisonment for Matteo Messina Denaro
Just last week, Italian mafia boss Matteo Messina Denaro, who had been in hiding for decades, was sentenced to life imprisonment for the murder of two judges in the 1990s. The jury of Caltanissetta in Sicily confirmed a verdict that had been imposed on Messina Denaro in absentia in 2020 – at that time the head of the Sicilian Cosa Nostra was still on the run. In 1992, judge Giovanni Falcone, who specialized in mafia cases, died along with his wife and three companions in a bomb attack on a highway near Palermo. Just two months later, judge Paolo Borsellino was killed in an attack in Palermo along with five members of his escort.
The two attacks shocked Italy, and numerous officials then tried for decades to track down the alleged mastermind Messina Denaro. But it was not until January that he was arrested in a private clinic in Palermo after 30 years on the run.
sti/hf (afp, dpa)