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CRIME

Italian police bust Chinese ‘mafia’ running rackets across Europe

Police in Italy say they have cracked open a violent Chinese criminal group which had infiltrated the national transport sector and expanded into France, Germany and Spain.

Italian police bust Chinese 'mafia' running rackets across Europe
Police carrying out 'Operation China Truck'. Photo: Marie-Laure Messana/AFP/Polizia di Stato

Thirty-three suspects were arrested in a sting which disemboweled a “Chinese mafia organisation” accused of using “intimidation and violence” to prey on Chinese companies looking to transport products by road, police said on Thursday.

As well as controlling the movement of goods throughout Italy and on to Paris, Madrid and the German city of Neuss, the gang was also lining its nest with money from “extortion, usury, illegal gambling houses, prostitution and drugs peddling,” it said.

The mastermind was one Zhang Naizhong, 57, who goes by the nickname “the black man” and who behaved like a stereotypical mafia boss, dining in fine restaurants while underlings grovelled, according to La Repubblica.

His young lover was among those arrested by officers, who found bundles of cash stashed in her apartment, it said.

The investigation, dubbed “China Truck” and opened in 2011, was carried out by police in Prato, a city in Tuscany with a large Chinese community, working mainly in the textile industry.

The suspects hailed from the Zhejiang and Fujian eastern coastal provinces in China.

As part of the sting, police said they seized several companies, vehicles, properties and current accounts “for a total value of several million euros”.

CRIME

 Italian police arrest mafia member after three women killed in Rome

Italian police on Saturday arrested a mafia member suspected of killing two alleged Chinese prostitutes and a Colombian sex worker in Rome, local media reported.

 Italian police arrest mafia member after three women killed in Rome

The bodies of the two Chinese women were discovered in a residential building in the upmarket Prati district on Thursday morning, while the body of the South American was found in an apartment in the same neighbourhood an hour later.

All three victims were stabbed, according to Italian media reports.

According to the Corriere della Sera newspaper, footage from surveillance cameras allowed police to identify 51-year-old Giandavide De Pau, who had been prosecuted in the past for drug trafficking and sexual assault.

The suspect is reportedly a member of a mafia clan headed by Michele Senese, who is currently serving a life sentence. De Pau is believed to have been one of Senese’s closest collaborators, acting as his personal driver and handyman.

In 2008 and 2011, the suspect had also spent time in a psychiatric hospital.

It is unknown whether the suspected killer was carrying out a mafia hit or acting alone, possibly under the influence of drugs, which were found at the home of some family members where he is believed to have sought refuge after the police manhunt got underway, Corriere della Sera reported.

Several newspapers had warned of a possible “serial killer” in the Italian capital.

The body of one of the Chinese victims was spotted by a neighbour where it lay, naked on a landing. The woman, believed to be in her 40s, had suffered head and stomach injuries, the newspaper said.

When police entered her apartment, they found the body of the second Chinese woman.

Nobody in the building appeared to have heard the murders take place, according to residents.

“Everybody knew there was a house of ill repute here, I’d see people arriving at 2:00 am, 3:00 am,” a woman who lived in the building told reporters.

The body of the Colombian, who was 65, was found by a friend, Corriere della Sera said.

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