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Tuesday, 12 January 2010

heavy blow to the Mafia on Tuesday by arresting 17 suspects

18:54 |

Italian police dealt a heavy blow to the Mafia on Tuesday by arresting 17 suspects linked to powerful clans of the Calabria southern region, according to ANSA news agency. They were caught in the northern town of Bologna, a proof of the Mafia's rapid expansion all over the country. Some of the people arrested on Tuesday belonged to the mighty clan of the Pesce-Bellocco, one of three Mafia families who share control of illegal activities at the large container port in Gioia Tauro. The clan is also alleged to have secured lucrative infrastructure projects dogged by mafia probes. The ringleader Carmello Bellocco, 53, was serving out a 17-yearsentence for racketeering. Bellocco is accused of heading up the group's activities while on day-leave from prison. Prosecutor Michele Prestipinio, who led the investigation, described the arrested as "dangerous people with huge amounts of cash and very big plans." Millions of euros in assets, including a number of supermarkets, were seized during the operation. The clan's base is in the town of Rosarno, where racial riots broke out last week between town residents and immigrant day laborers. Local Mafia, called "Ndrangheta," is suspected of involvement in the migrant labor exploitation as well as the in anti-immigrant violence which ensued after the riots. An inquiry has been launched to ascertain eventual Mafia connections. Mafia clans are spreading their drug and arms trafficking activities not only in Italy but on a world-wide scale. Italy has lately been rocked by an upheaval in local criminality, with several failed bombings. Last week top anti-Mafia prosecutor PieroGrasso warned that the country was facing a new "Mafia campaign" and called for intensified investigations and assets seizure.

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