Italian authorities claimed a “historic” success against the ‘Ndrangheta mafia on Wednesday, after arrest warrants were issued for 163 suspected mobsters who had infiltrated the construction, transport and waste collection sectors in northern Italy.arrested

Investigations focused on Reggio Emilia, a town 150 kilometers south-east of Milan, in the Emilia-Romagna region. Arrests were also made in Lombardy and Calabria, the southern region from where the ‘Ndrangheta originates.

“It is an operation which I do not hesitate in calling historic, without precedent,” said chief Anti-Mafia Prosecutor Franco Roberti, who travelled especially from Rome to Emilia-Romagna to talk about the police operation.

He described it as an “impressive and decisive” fight-back against the ‘Ndrangheta’s northern Italian operations.

Another prosecutor said the clan that was targeted by Wednesday’s arrests had been present in Emilia-Romagna since 1982, and had been involved in reconstruction efforts following the earthquake that hit the region three years ago.

A local politician affiliated to Silvio Berlusconi’s Forza Italia party, a journalist, and a businessman whose son – Vincenzo Iaquinta – was part of the Italy national squad that won the 2006 football World Cup, were among those jailed.

Police were still looking for at least seven of those ordered under arrest, local daily Gazzetta di Reggio reported.

About 40 other people were placed under investigation. Prosecutors said they had also interrogated Prime Minister Matteo Renzi’s right-hand man Graziano Delrio, who was Reggio Emilia mayor until 2013, as a key witness.

The ‘Ndrangheta is one of the world’s most powerful and secretive crime groups, specialized in drugs and arm smuggling, money laundering and construction. As well as in northern Italy, it has made inroads in northern Europe, the United States and Latin America.



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