Italy: More than 300 mob arrests in four countries

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MILAN (AP) — Police on Thursday arrested more than 300 suspected members of the ‘Ndrangheta criminal organization in Italy, Switzerland, Germany and Bulgaria in a major mafia crackdown.

In Italy alone, 2,500 officers participated in raids that also targeted property valued at 15 million euros ($16.7 million), focusing on the Calabrian town of Vibo Valentina, but extending through much of the country.

The arrested included a former lawmaker, an ex-regional official, a mayor in Calabria, a political party official and a Carabinieri commander previously assigned to the Calabrian capital.

The suspects were being held on suspicion of extortion, murder money-laundering and belonging to a Mafia organization.

‘’It is the biggest operation since the maxi-trial of Palermo,’’ anti-Mafia prosecutor Nicola Gratteri told the news agency ANSA. He referred to a trial against the Sicilian mafia that lasted from 1986 to early 1992 that led to the convictions of more than 300 people, considered the most significant trial ever against the Sicilian Mafia.

‘’We have completely disrupted the clans of Vibo province, but Italian regions were involved from the Alps to Sicily,’’ Gratteri said

The Calabrian ‘Ndrangheta has increasingly eclipsed the Sicilian Cosa Nostra in power and wealth, infiltrating all sectors of Italian economic and political life. From Calabria, it has spread its tentacles to northern Italy, where it migrated in the 1970s and 1980s, to Germany, and as far away as Canada and Australia.

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