Mafia “consolidated” in Lombardy  says police chief

Anti-mafia Commission meets in Milan.

“The ‘ndrangheta [Calabrian mafia] has been here since the 1970s,” Milan police commissioner Antonio De Iesu said after testifying to a hearing of the parliamentary anti-mafia commission in the city last week.

“It’s consolidated and has spread out. It doesn’t shoot and it doesn’t kill; nowadays it invests, manages loan-shark operations and penetrates the real economy,” added De Iesu. “In many cases, businessmen have made a pact with the devil.”

The police chief said the criminal association is now so consolidated that it has become difficult to untangle its financial operations. “We need to cut off the ‘ndrangheta’s oxygen,” he stated, “and its oxygen is money and financial connections.”

Milan mayor Beppe Sala also addressed the commission hearing. This is a relatively rich territory,” Sala told the parliamentarians led by long-standing commission chair Rosy Bindi, “so it’s obvious that there’ll always be interest. We have to carry on working.”

Bindi had convened the two-chamber commission in Milan for the fourth time, she told reporters, because Lombardy is the Italian region most infiltrated by organised crime after Sicily, Calabria and Campania. In a press conference at the conclusion of the hearing in the city’s prefecture, she said, “We shall continue to keep a close watch on Milan and Lombardy.”

The most recent scandal discussed at the hearing was the sponsoring of a street festival by the municipality of Milan’s Corsico suburb. Celebrating the stocco di Mammola, a typical fish recipe from a town in the Calabrian province of Reggio, the festival had been organised by the son-in-law of a ‘ndrangheta boss, and the support of the Milanese authorities had raised eyebrows. Local municipal chair Filippo Errante had shown “complicity or ignorance”, said Bindi; “but ignorance must be proved, and in this case there isn’t yet enough proof.”

Errante told media that he had set up an internal enquiry into the issue, and had also introduced a rule that sponsoring by the municipality must from now on always be put to the vote of the whole council.

Commission member Senator Franco Mirabelli stated after the hearing that other Lombardy comuni were also on the watch-list. In Cisliano, in Milan province, a local councillor had been caught warning mafiosi that their vehicles were under observation, he told the media. And Bindi added that the commission was aware of “situations showing the ability of the ‘ndrangheta and foreign criminal associations to control the territory and condition the local administration” in Tribiano and Melegnano.