The Italian Antimafia Investigative Directorate (DIA) has today dealt a heavy blow to the 'Ndrangheta in Rome. A total of 77 people have been arrested for being linked in different ways to the Calabrian mafia. It is the first time in the history of the Italian capital that such a large – and autonomous – network of this criminal group, considered the most powerful and unknown in Italy today, falls. A fact that, however, demonstrates the permeability of the organization in the capital.
Investigators have identified a local network that operated as a true subsidiary in Rome to gain control of businesses such as patisseries, bakeries, fishmongers or withdrawal of oils and other products. They used fictitious names to hide the true identity of the owners of these premises.
The operation, dubbed Propaggine, has involved the arrest of 43 individuals in the city alone. A total of 38 of them are already in jail and five are under house arrest. The other 34 arrest warrants have been carried out in Calabria, in the south of the country. The strategy was clear: they went with the greatest precautions so as not to be linked with the Calabrian leaders, and they only met in person at very few events such as weddings and funerals. In cases of extreme urgency, they sent a messenger.
"We in Rome are an extension of down there," they said in one of the interceptions. Among those investigated stands out Vincenzo Alvaro, one of the capos, arrested in 2009 as the operative mind of the 'Ndrangheta in Rome in an operation in which an important premises in the exclusive Via Veneto was involved. He is part of a powerful family from Sinopoli, a town near Gioia Tauro, which is the key place for the distribution of cocaine from Latin America.
The 'Ndrangheta have been hit hard for years. The latest, a historic trial that began last year, the largest trial this organized crime group has ever faced, with more than 350 defendants. Italy had not experienced a process of this magnitude since the macro trial that beheaded the Sicilian Cosa Nostra in the eighties. According to the calculations of the Catanzaro prosecutor, Nicola Gratteri, his main persecutor, this group has 20,000 members and moves 50,000 million euros each year. For years he hid in the impenetrable Calabrian mountains, with the town of San Luca as his stronghold. Today it is considered an organization with a presence throughout Europe. It also deals with the illegal trafficking of waste, money laundering or extortion.
The president of the Lazio region, Nicola Zingaretti, thanked investigators and law enforcement for their work in an "unprecedented operation in the capital against the 'Ndrangheta." "The mafias are a danger to democracy and together we can fight them," he said on his Twitter account.