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CRIME

Italian police arrest 48 ‘Ndrangheta suspects

Italian police have arrested 48 suspected members of the southern 'Ndrangheta mafia in a sweep that uncovered dealings in flowers and chocolates as well as drugs and arms, anti-mafia prosecutor Franco Roberti said.

Italian police arrest 48 'Ndrangheta suspects
Italian police have arrested 48 suspected 'Ndrangheta members who are accused of trafficking chocolate and flowers. Photo: Raffaele Esposito/Flickr

The suspected members of two 'Ndrangheta clans also associated with illicit trafficking in the Dutch flower market and stolen Lindt chocolate.

The mafia centred in southern Calabria have “great flexibility, adapting to markets that offer the most opportunity to get rich,” Rome deputy prosecutor Michele Prestipino told a news conference on Monday.

Working with Dutch prosecutors, Italian police uncovered several cells of one of the clans in The Netherlands, focusing on the flower trade.

“This operation has shown that the 'Ndrangheta families today have the financial and human means to colonize outside their home territory,” Prestipino said.

The probe also uncovered trafficking in 250 tonnes of Lindt chocolate worth more than seven million euros ($7.9 million), stolen in Italy late last year and sold on in Italy, Poland, Austria and Switzerland, the prosecutors said.

The 'Ndrangheta are the most active, richest and most powerful organised crime syndicate in Europe, according to Italian authorities.

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CRIME

New York returns millions worth of stolen art to Italy

Prosecutors in New York on Tuesday returned dozens of antiquities stolen from Italy and valued at around $19 million, some of which were found in the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

New York returns millions worth of stolen art to Italy

“These 58 pieces represent thousands of years of rich history, yet traffickers throughout Italy utilized looters to steal these items and to line their own pockets,” said Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg, noting that it was the third such repatriation in nine months.

“For far too long, they have sat in museums, homes, and galleries that had no rightful claim to their ownership,” he said at a ceremony attended by Italian diplomats and law enforcement officials.

The stolen items had been sold to Michael Steinhardt, one of the world’s leading collectors of ancient art, the DA’s office said, adding that he had been slapped with a “first-of-its-kind lifetime ban on acquiring antiquities.”

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Among the recovered treasures, which in some cases were sold to “unwitting collectors and museums,” were a marble head of the Greek goddess Athena from 200 B.C.E. and a drinking cup dating back to 470 B.C.E, officials said.

The pieces were stolen at the behest of four men who “all led highly lucrative criminal enterprises – often in competition with one another – where they would use local looters to raid archaeological sites throughout Italy, many of which were insufficiently guarded,” the DA’s office said.

One of them, Pasquale Camera, was “a regional crime boss who organized thefts from museums and churches as early as the 1960s. He then began purchasing stolen artifacts from local looters and sold them to antiquities dealers,” it added.

It said that this year alone, the DA’s office has “returned nearly 300 antiquities valued at over $66 million to 12 countries.”

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