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Europe

Police arrest 68 Naples mafia suspects

Latest update : 2009-05-19

Italian police have arrested 68 Neapolitan mafia suspects wanted for murder, drug trafficking and money laundering in one of the largest crackdowns on organised crime in recent years.

AFP - Italian police arrested 68 suspected members of the Neapolitan mafia Tuesday wanted for murder, drug trafficking and money laundering in one of largest crackdowns on organised crime of recent years.
  
"The police arrested 36 people, the carabinieri (paramilitary police) arrested 20 others and the financial police the last 12," a police spokesman told AFP.
  
Italian judges had issued a total of 109 arrest warrants for this operation, for "homicide, association with mafia figures, drugs trafficking and money laundering, the spokesman added.
  
Some of those named were already in detention on other offences, but others were still on the run.
  
Naples carabinieri told AFP they had seized assets worth five million euros (6.8 million dollars) including land in Spain and bank accounts in Monaco.
  
The warrants were directed mainly at the Amato-Pagano family, part of a breakaway clan that has set itself up against Paolo Di Lauro, who leads a rival family in the Scampia district of Naples.
  
Police have blamed the war between the two factions -- rival branches of the Camorra, or Neapolitan mafia -- for dozens of deaths in recent years.
  
Tuesday's raids followed the arrest over the weekend of 44-year-old Raffaelle Amato in Marbella, southern Spain. The head of the Amato-Pagano family, he was picked up on Sunday.
  
Amato, from the Naples suburb of Mugnano, had been on the run since 2006.
  
He is suspected of having carried out eight murders between 1991 and 1993, Naples prosecutor Giovandomenico Lepore told ANSA at the time of his arrest.
  
He is also suspected to be one of the main suppliers of cocaine to the Naples area, Lepore added.
  
Italian investigators said he spoke perfect Spanish and lived under a false name in a village on the Costa del Sol.
  
Police had tracked him down from nearby Malaga after a lengthy investigation, arresting him along with one of his lieutenants, named as Carmine Minucci.
  
Amato's wife, Elmelinda Pagano, was one of those arrested in Tuesday's operation, the police spokesman told AFP.
  
Tuesday's operation was just the latest in a series of moves against suspects linked to several different mafia groups in Italy.
  
On May 10, Italian police arrested Salvatore Coluccio, the suspected head of a mafia crime family in the southern region of Calabria, known as the 'Ndrangheta.
  
Coluccio, who had been on the run for four years and featured among Italy's 30 most dangerous fugitives, was found hiding in a special bunker equipped with an electric generator, an air conditioning system and a large stock of food.
  
On May 5, Italian police said Tuesday they have seized more than 300 million euros in real estate and funds from 13 suspected members of the Sicilian Mafia who were arrested in 2007.
  
And last Wednesday a Dutch court ordered an Italian-born suspect in a 2007 mafia massacre in Germany to be extradited to Germany.
  
Giovanni Strangio, 30, an alleged top member of the 'Ndrangheta mafia grouping, was suspected of having led a shootout that left six rival clan members dead outside a pizzeria in Duisburg, western Germany, in August 2007.
  

Date created : 2009-05-19

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