Mafia dragnet in Milan nabs 24

Lombardy politics and business infiltrated.

Milan police carried out a major operation at dawn on 26 September, arresting 24 suspected members or allies of the Calabrian ‘ndrangheta organised crime syndicate in Monza, Milan, Pavia, Como and Reggio Calabria provinces.

Of the suspects arrested, 21 were taken to jail, while the other three – including mayor Edoardo Mazza of Seregno in Monza and Brianza province – were placed under house arrest. Another high-profile arrest warrant was served on former vice-president of Lombardy regional council Mario Mantovani, who had already been held for alleged corruption two years ago, but had been released for a legal technicality.

The arrests were the result of a probe into alleged infiltration of the Lombardy region’s politics and business world, including the sale of blocks of votes in municipal elections.

Charges included criminal association, extortion, detention and illegal carrying of weapons, bodily harm and criminal damage, all of these aggravated by mafia methods, plus drug trafficking, corruption for acts against official duties, abuse of official status, revealing and using matter covered by investigative secrecy, and aiding and abetting.

Prosecutor Ilda Boccassini (pictured), one of the team signing the warrants, told media that it was easy for organised crime to penetrate the institutional fabric, using the omertà mafia code of silence.

As recently as last January, the then Milan police chief had warned that “the ‘ndrangheta [Calabrian mafia] has been here since the 1970s.”