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CRIME

Italian police seize weapons in raid on neo-Nazi group

Police have seized guns, crossbows and other weapons from an Italian neo-Nazi group with ties to the Calabrian mafia.

Italian police seize weapons in raid on neo-Nazi group
Some of the weapons and far-right reading material seized in the police raids. All photos: Italian Police/AFP

Police said the group had also been forging contacts with extremists elsewhere in Europe.

Officers searching the homes of 19 suspects throughout the country, from Milan to Sicily, seized automatic weapons, rifles, crossbows, swords, knives, Nazi flags and books on dictators Adolph Hitler and Benito Mussolini, police said.

Those targeted belonged to the fledgling neo-Nazi Partito Nazionalsocialista Italiano dei Lavoratori, or National Italian Socialist Workers' Party, which has an openly anti-Semitic and xenophobic programme and was in contact with Britain's Neo-Nazi Combat 18 and Portugal's far-right New Social Order.

The police operation originated from local monitoring of extreme right-wing local militants in Enna, Sicily, by anti-mafia and anti-terror police, local media reports.

Their operation revealed a large network of extremists operating in various parts of Italy, united by the same ideology.

The group reportedly aimed to recruit members through social media, and used a closed chat called “Militia” dedicated to training the militants.

One of the most powerful members of the group was a 50-year-old woman in Padua, calling herself the “sergeant major of Hitler”, who police believe was in charge of recruitment for the group.

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Investigators searching her home found propaganda material and banners featuring swastikas and other fascist symbols.

The head trainer of the “militia” was a member of the powerful Calabrian mafia 'Ndrangheta, who had collaborated with police on previous investigations and was a local leader in Liguria of the small, far-right Forza Nuova party, police said.

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CRIME

Italian killer with mafia links arrested in France after 16 years on the run

A convicted murderer linked to one of Italy's most powerful mafia organisations was arrested on Thursday in central France, Interpol said.

Italian killer with mafia links arrested in France after 16 years on the run

Edgardo Greco, 63, is suspected of belonging to the notorious ‘Ndrangheta, a powerful mafia organisation in Calabria, southern Italy.

He is wanted in Italy to serve a life sentence for the murders of Stefano and Giuseppe Bartolomeo, and accused of the attempted murder of Emiliano Mosciaro “as part of a mafia war between the Pino Sena and Perna Pranno gangs that marked the early 1990s”, Interpol said.

The Bartolomeo brothers were beaten to death with iron bars in a fish warehouse, Italian police said.

Greco’s arrest in central France came with help for Italy and France from the “Cooperation against ‘Ndrangheta Project” (I-CAN) run by Interpol, which facilitates police cooperation between its 195 member states.

READ ALSO: Italian police seize €250 million and arrest 56 in latest mafia blitz

Italian Interior Minister Matteo Piantedosi, quoted in Interpol’s statement, said the arrests demonstrated his country’s commitment to “fighting all forms of organised crime and locating dangerous fugitives”.

The ‘Ndrangheta is considered Italy’s most extensive and powerful mafia group, Interpol said, operating worldwide and with strong ties to the trade in cocaine bound for Europe from South America

I-CAN’s job is help raise awareness of ‘Ndrangheta and their modus operandi, sharing police information to dismantle their networks and operations, the agency said.

The arrest of Greco, who worked in the evenings in a pizza restaurant under an assumed named according to Italian media, came a week after Italian police said it had dismantled a ‘Ndrangheta mafia ring dominating a large area of southern Calabria and seized assets exceeding 250 million euros.

Fifty-six people, many already in prison, were put under criminal investigation for a series of crimes including mafia-related conspiracy, extortion, kidnapping, bribery and possession of weapons, police and prosecutors said.

The arrest of Greco comes just over two weeks after Italian police arrested one of the most notorious bosses of the Sicilian Cosa Nostra mafia, Matteo Messina Denaro, who had been on the run for 30 years.

The 60-year-old was arrested after visiting a health clinic where he was being treated in the Sicilian capital Palermo

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