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MAFIA

Spanish police strike blow to Camorra mafia crime network

Spanish police said Tuesday they had broken up a violent branch of Italy's Camorra crime group which they believe stole hashish from rival drug traffickers in Spain and then transported it to Rome in motorhomes.

Spanish police strike blow to Camorra mafia crime network
An officer discovers a hidden chamber in the vehicle. Photo: Guardia Civil

The authorities arrested 14 people in the operation, which had “completely broken up” a branch of the Camorra's “Marranella” clan which operated on Spain's southern Costa del Sol, a police statement said. Another seven people are under investigation, it added.

Police said the group obtained most of the hashish which it then sold on the streets of Rome through violent thefts from other drug traffickers in Spain. 

The group also bought hashish in Spain with the aid “of a group of British citizens” based in the southern province of Cadiz.   

“To carry out these thefts, members of this organisation used extreme violence, not hesitating to use firearms to kidnap other area drug traffickers,” the statement said.

The drugs “were transported to Rome by road, hidden inside rented motorhomes, with the trip carried out usually by a man and a woman hired by the organisation, to appear as if they were a couple on vacation and not raise suspicions during any police controls.”

The organisation was led by a father and his two sons who belonged to the Camorra's “Marranella” clan.

The 14 suspects who were arrested include British, Italian, Spanish, Romanian and Dominican nationals. Some were wanted fugitives in their home countries.   

The authorities seized half a tonne of hashish in Spain, Italy and France as part of the operation, which was carried out in cooperation with Italian police.

The Camorra, which is based in the Naples area, is one of Italy's three main organised crime groups, along with Sicily's Cosa Nostra, commonly known as the mafia, and the 'Ndrangheta, centred in the Calabria region.

Camorra bosses refer to Spain's Mediterranean coast as “Costa Nostra”, or “Our Coast”, alluding to the “Cosa Nostra”, according to Italian journalist Roberto Saviano, a specialist on the Naples criminal underworld.

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DRUGS

Italian Eurovision winner tests negative for drugs

Damiano David, the frontman of Italy's Eurovision winners Maneskin, has passed a drug test he took on Monday to clear his name after speculation that he had snorted cocaine at the song contest's grand final.

Italian Eurovision winner tests negative for drugs
Damiano David of Maneskin performs at the Eurovision final. Photo: KENZO TRIBOUILLARD / AFP

A drug test was “voluntarily undertaken earlier today by the lead singer of the band Måneskin which has returned a negative result seen by the EBU”, the European Broadcasting Union announced on Monday evening. 

“No drug use took place in the Green Room and we consider the matter closed,” the EBU said in a statement, adding that it had checked all available video footage as part of “a thorough review of the facts”.

READ ALSO: Italian Eurovision winners ‘really offended’ by accusations of drug use

David, who was shown on camera leaning over a table backstage in what some speculated could be drug use, had strongly denied the allegations. 

He said the footage showed him sweeping up some glass broken by one of his bandmates.

Måneskin with their trophy after winning the final of the 65th Eurovision Song Contest. Photo: Sander Koning / ANP / AFP

There had been calls for “total transparency” from officials in France, which came a close second in the song contest, after the clip went viral following Saturday’s final in the Netherlands.

The French minister for Europe said that drug use should be grounds for disqualification, though the head of France’s public broadcasting group said they did not plan to challenge the result.

David told interviewers he was “really offended” by the speculation, which he said had marred Italy’s first Eurovision victory in 31 years.

“We are alarmed that inaccurate speculation leading to fake news has overshadowed the spirit and the outcome of the event and unfairly affected the band,” the EBU said, adding that it was looking forward to “a spectacular Eurovision Song Contest in Italy next year”.

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