MILAN: Italian police today announced the arrest of 91 people associated with the Sicilian Mafia during nationwide raids. They include bosses, loan sharks, underlings, frontmen, and everything in between.
The Guardia di Finanza, Italy’s financial crimes police also stated that they seized around 15 million euros ($16.2 million) in assets.
The raids targeted the Ferrante and the Fontana, two historic mafia clans with a stronghold over the Palermo districts of Acquasanta and Arenella. Recently these clans have been swarming into Milan to take advantage of the people in one of the hardest-hit parts of Italy.
The arrests included three brothers, Angelo, Giovanni, and Gaetano Fontana, and also a former Italian Big Brother contestant from Season 10, Daniele Santoianni, accused of being a frontman for the mafia.
The raids were all part of the government’s push to stop the mob taking advantage of the current pandemic and minimize the potential for even more damage to the Italian economy.
The official judicial arrest order said that the mobsters were ready to exploit the economic crisis caused by the novel coronavirus pandemic. Charges include sporting fraud, money laundering, drug trafficking, fraudulent assets possession, receiving stolen goods, and extortion.
According to police, taking advantage of the current economic and health crisis is the mafia’s focus right now and Cosa Nostra is preparing for a busy and profitable year. They said the economic crisis was a “very favorable context for boosting the clans’ criminal plans.”
Since the enormity of the financial crisis has slowly come into focus, crime experts have issued warnings about the mafia gaining favor amongst the people by distributing food and other supplies.
Perhaps even more dangerous is the fact that along with the usual criminal activities such as drug trafficking, extortion, and illegal gambling, the Palermo mafia has already started to gain a foothold in Northern Italy’s legal economy.
They control the fruit and vegetable market, the boatyard, bars, butchers, and supermarkets. They are also trading coffee and luxury watches. Police are hoping these arrests have taken enough mobsters off the streets to severely damage the organization’s capabilities.