Posted on: September 2, 2022, 07:26h. 

Last updated on: September 2, 2022, 11:23h.

The ‘Ndrangheta mafia continues to be a target of global law enforcement looking to stop its illegal gambling, drug distribution, and human trafficking empire. It’s still a massive network that is hard to dismantle. But a new police sweep took a bite out of its operations.

'Ndrangheta mafia in Italy
Police arrest a member of the ‘Ndrangheta mafia in Italy in 2020. The largest criminal organization in the world continues to shrink following new arrests. (Image: DPG Media B.V)

Italian Insider reports that police have arrested 202 people in Italy in the latest move against the powerful mafia, known to have its hands in anything illegal. Police took out a major component of the organization in the city of Cosenza, as well as in other parts of the Calabria region.

Among those placed on house arrest is Marcello Manna, the mayor of the town of Rende. Manna is a well-known but disbarred criminal lawyer. He stands accused of having bought a favorable sentence for a client.

Police also took in the councilor for the Cosenza Municipality, Francesco De Cicco, and other government officials.

Tearing Down the House

The police operation was the product of an investigation by the Catanzaro anti-mafia prosecutor’s office. It resulted in the arrest of political figures, businessmen, and others.

From within the criminal syndicate, different ‘Ndrangheta families are now a little thinner. These include the Patitucci, Porcaro, Presta, Puppo-D’Ambrosio, and Abbruzzese families, among others.

Those arrested are charged with various crimes, including criminal association for the purpose of drug trafficking aggravated by mafia methods and purposes, criminal association with the aim of committing crimes inherent in the illicit organization of gambling activities, money laundering, and fraudulent transfer of property and securities.

In addition to the arrests, police seized a number of companies and real estate assets. In total, they confiscated property worth over €72 million (US$71.81 million).

According to the investigation, the most lucrative business was undoubtedly that of obtaining public contracts. This was because of relations with politicians and officials, such as for the construction of tourist complexes on the coast of the Tyrrhenian Sea between Sardinia and mainland Italy.

Alleged ‘Ndrangheta Member Falls in Brazil

Last week, Brazilian police arrested another member of the ‘Ndrangheta clan. They suspected him of sending large amounts of cocaine to Italy hidden in marble and granite slabs. The suspect, Joseph Bruzzese, is a criminal whom European authorities have had their eye on for a while.

In the operation, a Brazilian, whose identity was not identified, was also arrested in the state of Santa Catarina. Police conducted searches there, as well as in Espírito Santo and Goiás, and seized evidence to support their claims.

The investigations advanced from Dec. 28, 2020, when Italian authorities seized 338 kilograms of cocaine in the port of La Spezia. In that incident, police arrested a Brazilian, an Italian, and two Albanians.

This past July, Brazil extradited fellow Italian mobster Rocco Morabito to Italy. Police arrested him in May of last year after he escaped from a prison in Uruguay and made his way to Brazil.

Continued Mob Enforcement

The ‘Ndrangheta is a massive global operation. Its influence extends across all continents, and some of its members have been regulars in casinos.

However, increased international pressure to disband the organization has produced results. There are now regular arrests of individuals with alleged ties to the group.

When these occur, such as with Bashkim Osmani in Spain a few months ago, Italy’s anti-mafia police forces find more ways to intervene.