Police raids target powerful Casamonica clan in Rome and southern Italy

At least 250 carabinieri, Italy's military police, were involved in a series of operations across Italy on the morning of Tuesday July 17th against Rome's powerful Casamonica clan.

Police raids target powerful Casamonica clan in Rome and southern Italy
Police monitor a street in Ostia, eastern Rome, a Casamonica stronghold. Photo: Tiziana Fabi/AFP.

The operations resulted in 31 arrests, including one of the alleged heads of the organized crime institution, Giuseppe Casamonica, who was released from prison earlier this year. Italian champion boxer Domenico Spada was also arrested. 

Spada's gym in Rome was also shut down and seized, reports Repubblica. The daily had previously reported that Spada's gym was frequented by the Movimento 5 Stelle Senator Emanuele Dessi. Warrants for six other members of the clan have also been issued. 

The Italian police's raids began at dawn on Tuesday morning and targeted key Casamonica organized crime members in Rome and the southern provinces of Calabria. 

The suspects are accused of setting up an organization dedicated to trafficking and dealing drugs, usury, illicit granting of loans, racketeering and extortion – all with “a mafia character,” a specific crime under Article 416 of the Italian Penal Code. 

The Casamonica clan were originally an organized crime family of Roma ethnicity that migrated from southern Italy but have since spread their tentacles – and affiliations – to control, according to Italian prosecutors, large parts of organized crime in the Italian capital and beyond. Its members have threatened journalists on live television and are accused of a spate of murders. 

Journalists from Repubblica and TV news Tg2 were threatened with sticks by family members today in their stronghold in Rome. 

The head of the clan is said to be Giuseppe Casamonica, released from prison just this year after serving a ten year sentence.

The 2015 funeral of the clan's founder, Vittorio Casamonica, attracted widespread attention for its lavishness – a Rolls Royce hearse, flowers sprinkled over Rome from a helicopter and other ostentatious gestures before the authorities' eyes. Vittorio Casamonica's coffin was carried away soundtracked by the theme tune from the film The Godfather. 

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The clan became famous for extortion and charging huge interest on loans, in some cases demanding up to €600,000 payback for a €10,000 loan, according to Repubblica. Victims have traditionally been afraid to testify or come forward because of the fear of violent repercussions. 

The Casamonica clan and affiliates control large swathes of the east and coastal area of Rome and have reportedly built a crime empire worth €90 million from illicit activities. Along the way they have beaten up a disabled woman in a bar, according to the Italian police, while spreading fear throughout the Italian capital. 

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Authorities admit they largely overlooked the Casamonica clan's rise in the 1980s and 1990s, remaining instead focused on other organized crime gangs. Such negligence led to the rise of an organization that, according to a Corriere delle Sera investigation published in 2015, counted more than 1,000 members across 43 families. None have ever turned against the clan, making it particularly difficult for the authorities to tackle the organization.

This isn't the first major raid against the group. In 2012, the Italian police arrested 39 members of the clan for drug trafficking, but failed to dent the organization's power structure. In 2010, a police raid led to the seizure of €10 million in assets – luxury cars, properties, land and bank accounts. Previous raids in 2002 and 2003 also failed to finish off the clan. 

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