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‘Ndrangheta: Italian grandma tips off police to bring down mafia clan

A tip from an Italian grandmother hoping to save her grandson from drugs helped lead police to dismantle a mafia drug ring operating in the southern Calabria region, authorities said Wednesday.

'Ndrangheta: Italian grandma tips off police to bring down mafia clan
(Photo by Gianluca CHININEA / AFP)

Police said 18 people were arrested on suspicion of drug dealing around the Calabrian district of Cetraro as part of the “Muto” clan.

The clan is one of many within the infamous ‘Ndrangheta, an organised crime syndicate considered one of the world’s most powerful, whose main business is drug trafficking.

“The grandmother went to the Carabinieri (police) to ask them to save her grandson who was being devoured by the world of drugs,” Colonel Piero Sutera, commander of the local Carabinieri police force, told a press conference.

READ ALSO: Meet the ’Ndrangheta: It’s time to bust some myths about the Calabrian mafia

Large amounts of cocaine moved by the clan were acquired through a broker operating on the other side of Calabria, according to investigators, who said they had discovered 250 episodes of drug dealing.

The group was also involved in extorting entrepreneurs operating in the tourism sector, one of whom had sought the help of police.

“People have suffered and seen the arrogance of these criminals who insisted on extorting money,” anti-mafia prosecutor Nicola Gratteri told reporters, as quoted by the Gazzetta del Sud daily.

READ ALSO: Meet Nicola Gratteri, the prosecutor leading Italy’s battle against the mafia

(Photo by Alberto PIZZOLI / AFP)

Gratteri, who is the lead prosecutor in an ongoing “maxi-trial” against the ‘Ndrangheta elsewhere in Calabria with over 300 defendants, said some of the extorted money went to clan members in jail and their families, the paper reported.

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CRIME

Italy remembers murdered anti-mafia judge Falcone

Italy commemorated the death of Italian judge Giovanni Falcone on Monday, thirty years after the brutal Capaci bombing.

Italy remembers murdered anti-mafia judge Falcone

The entire country paid tribute on Monday to anti-mafia judge Giovanni Falcone, killed by the Sicilian mafia 30 years ago in a car bomb murder that shocked the country.

Interior Minister Luciana Lamorgese laid a wreath at the memorial at the site of the blast at Capaci, near Palermo, that killed Falcone, his wife, and three members of his police escort on May 23rd 1992.

Another ceremony in Palermo was attended by Italian President Sergio Mattarella, whose brother Piersanti, then Sicily’s regional president, was also murdered by the mafia.

In a statement, Prime Minister Mario Draghi hailed the legacy of Falcone, saying that thanks to his “courage, professionalism and determination, Italy has become a freer and fairer country”.

He said Falcone and his colleagues – one of whom, Paolo Borsellino, was killed by Cosa Nostra two months later – “dealt decisive blows against the mafia”.

“Their heroism had rooted anti-mafia values in society, in new generations, in republican institutions,” he added, saying the “relentless fight against organised crime and […] the search for truth” must continue.

The mob used a skateboard to place a 500-kilogramme (1100-pound) charge of TNT and ammonium nitrate in a tunnel under the motorway which linked the airport to the centre of Palermo.

Falcone, driving a white Fiat Croma, was returning from Rome for the weekend. At a look-out point on the hill above, a mobster nicknamed “The Pig” pressed the remote control button as the judge’s three-car convoy passed.

The blast ripped through the asphalt, shredding bodies and metal, and flinging the lead car several hundred metres.

READ ALSO: How murdered judge Giovanni Falcone shaped Italy’s fight against the mafia

On July 19th, Borsellino was also killed in a car bomb attack, along with five members of his escort. Only his driver survived.

Falcone posed a real threat to Cosa Nostra, an organised crime group made famous by The Godfather trilogy, and which boasted access to the highest levels of Italian power.

He and Borsellino were later credited with revolutionising the understanding of the mafia, working closely with the first informants and compiling evidence for a groundbreaking ‘maxi-trial’ in which hundreds of mobsters were convicted in 1987.

“Thanks to Falcone and Borsellino, the Sicilian mafia became a notorious fact, not something that had to be proved to exist at every trial,” anti-mafia prosecutor Marzia Sabella told AFP.

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