By David Amoruso
Dozens of alleged members of the ‘Ndrangheta were arrested today in Italy, Germany, Canada, and Australia during a global anti-mafia operation. Italian authorities are hailing the bust as a huge success that has dealt a big blow to the ‘Ndrangheta, a notorious Mafia organization that has its roots in Calabria, Italy.
Thirty-one suspects were arrested in Italy, including alleged ‘Ndrangheta boss Francesco Maisano (right), who was found in a bunker beneath his house in the Calabrian countryside. A spokesperson for the Calabrian police force explained they “negotiated to get him out and arrest him. We didn't want to go in with pneumatic drills to dig him out.” Most arrests were made in Calabria, in the south of Italy, but police also performed raids and arrests in the north, near Rome.
In Germany, six Italian nationals were picked up on an Italian-issued European arrest warrant. These arrests are especially interesting seeing how rival ‘Ndrangheta clans were responsible for the brazen slaughter of six other ‘Ndrangheta members in Duisburg on August 15, 2007. The six victims had just left a birthday party at an Italian restaurant.
Five other arrest warrants were issued for suspects in Canada and Australia. One of the Australian suspects is Tony Vallelonga, a former mayor of Stirling, a suburb of Perth, who emigrated from Calabria thirty years ago. His name stands out as a sign of how far the tentacles of the ‘Ndrangheta stretch out across the globe and into positions of power.
For Canadians the arrests come as no surprise, Calabrian mobsters and the ‘Ndrangheta have been active in this country since the 1940s. During the 1970s, in Montreal, Quebec, there was a lot of tension within the Cotroni Family between the ruling Calabrian faction led by Vic Cotroni and Paolo Violi and an increasingly powerful Sicilian faction led by Nicolo Rizzuto. The Sicilian faction would eventually seize control after the natural death of Cotroni and the murder of Violi.
Recently, the Montreal underworld has become the scene of a new gang war as many members of the Rizzuto faction of the crime family have been murdered. The above mentioned Nicolo Rizzuto was shot to death while eating dinner at his own home by a gunman who fired the deadly bullet while standing outside. Though hardly anything is known about the motives or killers, rumors are that the Calabrians are taking back control of organized crime in the city and the important drug routes.
While Sicilian Cosa Nostra has been under heavy attack and scrutiny by Italian law enforcement, the Calabrian ‘Ndrangheta has managed to climb to the top of the criminal pyramid. They are said to control a considerate portion of the global cocaine trade through contacts in Colombia and their own distribution network within Europe. According to Italian magistrates, the ‘Ndrangheta’s annual income is estimated at more than 35 billion euros. Besides narcotics, the group is also involved in extortion, fraud, gambling, dumping of illegal waste, and money laundering.
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