Huge op nabs 68 'Ndrangheta suspects in migrant biz

Local Misericordia chief and priest among people detained

15 May, 20:27

    Police force blitz in Isola Capo Rizzuto operation Police force blitz in Isola Capo Rizzuto operation

    CATANZARO - A huge police operation saw people suspected of links with the Arena clan of the 'Ndrangheta mafia in the town of Isola Capo Rizzuto, near Crotone, detained on Monday. The operation is linked to an investigation into the clan's alleged involvement in the management of migrant reception. The head of the Misericordia association in Isola Capo Rizzuto, Leonardo Sacco, and parish priest Edoardo Scordio, were among those detained. Father Scordio allegedly laundered proceeds from the scam in Swizteralnd, through his brother who lives there.

    Misericordia runs a local reception centre for asylum seekers that is one of the biggest in Europe.

    Through Sacco, the Arena clan managed to land contracts from the Crotone prefecture to supply catering services for the reception centres at Isola Capo Rizzuto and on the island of Lampedusa, where most migrants make landfall, investigative sources said.

    The contracts were entrusted to companies specially set up by the Arenas and other 'Ndrangheta families to divvy up the funds destined for migrant reception, the sources said.

    The Arenas also muscled in on online gambling and hiring entertainment machines, sources said.

    They had assumed a "dominant position" in this sector in Crotone and its hinterland, police said, using their powers of intimidation to make huge profits by altering the competitive balance and concentrating gambling in the hands of organised crime, pushing out legitimate commercial operators, police sources said. National Anti-Corruption Authority (ANAC) chief Raffaele Cantone said the operation had "I think, only revealed the tip of the iceberg".

    Catanzaro prosecutor Nicola Gratteri, who spearheads the 'Ndrangheta fight, said "wherever there is power or money there is 'Ndrangheta, which even exploits the needs of the desperate".

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