Italy's Massive Mafia Crackdown Keeps Getting Crazier: Sting Operations Have Netted Dozens More Of Ndrangheta Mafia Members And Notorious Hitman "The People Slayer" Has Been Released From Prison

DW - A joint operation carried out by police in Italy and Germany on Wednesday resulted in the arrest of 31 individuals suspected of being part of the 'ndrangheta mafia, Europol said in a press release.

Around 800 police officers and tax officials in both countries took part in the large-scale operation against international drug trafficking and money laundering.

"In total at least several hundreds of thousands [of euros] have been seized, as well as weapons, cocaine, two luxury vehicles and jewelry," Europol said.

"Furthermore, a full assessment of cash amounts seized is ongoing and bank accounts have been frozen," the statement added.

The EU joint law enforcement agency also shared a video with clips from the operation on Twitter.

The suspects are believed to have smuggled hundreds of kilograms of cocaine from the Netherlands to Italy.

The group is also suspected of having engaged in large-scale tax evasion in Germany — produce was delivered to Italian restaurants across the country without paying sales tax, with illegal profits apparently being sent back to Italy, investigators told AFP.

The Italian-led operation, named "Platinum-Dia," was called "a heavy blow" for the 'ndrangheta by Italian investigators, Italian news agency ANSA reported.

German investigators told AFP that the Italian operation was focused on the northern Italian region of Piedmont, around the city of Turin, and in the southern region of Calabria — the original home of the 'ndrangheta. Raids were also carried out in Spain and Romania.

The operation "conducted in Turin and with branches in Germany, Spain and Romania demonstrates the pervasiveness of the 'ndrangheta, but also above all the strength of the state," the president of Italy's anti-mafia commission Nicola Morra told ANSA.

Back in January when shit started to go down I blogged about the trial about to get underway 

Italian authorities, with the help of Interpol cracked down on a massive fraud scheme the crime syndicate had been running which enabled them to arrest members of the mafia group that had slipped through the cracks for decades. We're talking white collar big shots, government officials and politicians. 

Their scheme which was uncovered involved a complex system of issuing falsified invoices that were later used to receive tax credits.

The 'ndrangheta set up 86 front companies "with the sole purpose of showing an apparent turnover, in reality non-existent, and allow other companies managed by 'real' entrepreneurs on the market, to evade the internal revenue service", prosecutors said.

As part of the scheme, which was based in the areas of Crotone and Catanzaro, suspects rented warehouses but left them empty. They would also send trucks in to give the appearance of loading operations.

The investigation involved intercepting more than 250,000 phone calls and secret recordings. Police also scoured some 1,800 bank accounts and 388,000 bank transactions. The money involved totaled roughly €250 million (over $300 million).

And this was just one of them.

The sting operation last week was led by prosecutors in Turin and targeted two alleged clans of the 'Ndrangheta, the Agresta and the Giorgi families.

Their associates are accused of organising the cocaine trade between Italy, the Netherlands, Germany and Spain, communicating via encrypted messages, and then laundering the profits through commercial enterprises.

German police and prosecutors reported evidence of "organised VAT evasion" on food imported from Italy into bars and restaurants in Germany.

Some 500 police officers and tax investigators were involved in the raids in Germany, with another 300 officials in Italy alongside others in Spain and Romania.

It has extended its reach across all parts of the world, and it has long surpassed Sicily's Cosa Nostra as Italy's biggest mafia organisation.

This is all coming on the heels of one of the largest criminal trials in history kicking off in January in Calabria -

They've literally got all these guys, and their defense teams, spread out across what seems to be a giant cafeteria and are prosecuting them in groups based upon their indictments. 

Wild shit.

The guy at the head of the whole thing is Luigi "Il Zio" (The Uncle) Mancuso.

This guy took the Italy's rag tag, "double A" affiliate mob (compared to Sicily's) in the 80s, and turned it into a fucking machine that rakes in over 53 Billion dollars in revenue annually.

…the gang imports 80% of Europe’s cocaine from Mexico and Colombia through the container port of Gioia Tauro and its crime business is said to pull in a staggering £40billion a year.

In 2012 an Italian prosecutor warned: "The ’Ndrangheta runs the international cocaine market. I urge you not to underestimate the organisation or it will be too late."

Although it was only recently categorised as a mafia in Italian law in 2010, the 'Ndrangheta first entered the public consciousness during the 1980s and 90s, when the ’Ndrangheta carried out a series of kidnappings across Italy, in what was one of the bloodiest chapters of Calabrian history.

The gang is probably best-known for the kidnap of 16-year-old John Paul Getty, grandson of the world’s richest man, in Rome in 1973.

The whole situation is just really depressing. This whole crackdown might sound like a major blow to organized crime in Italy, but if history taught us anything, it's that the second one organization suffers a blow and becomes weak, there's another one waiting in the wings to assume the throne. 

It's exactly how The ’Ndrangheta came to take power.

Barstool Sports - (yah, I'm quoting myself. Suck it.)

In the 80s and 90s, La Cosa Nostra, which everybody associates with the Italian Mafia, was systemically prosecuted by European authorities. They were the family based out of Sicily that ran shit since the beginning of time. The group all the movies were based off and responsible for a lot of the ties to organized crime here in America since the early 1900s. 

With the void created by La Cosa Nostra's takedown, the ‘Ndrangheta crime family happily stepped up to fill it. Based out of Calabria, or, "the toe" of the boot, they couldn't have been in a better position to succeed. 

For starters, you can see Sicily across the Tyrrhenian Sea. It's right there. The ferry ride from Reggio to Messina is shorter than the one from Woods Hole to the Vineyard.

The entire region is littered with towns like my family's (Cosenza, Reggio, Pizzo) that are what they consider modern cities, but we would consider one step above the third world. Electricity isn't a given, nor running water. It's 500 fuckin degrees in the summer and not only does air conditioning not exist anywhere, but fans are pretty scarce also. 

The economy is awful. So awful that unemployment hovers around 40%. Forty-percent!

People that do have jobs (that actually pay them) usually treat them with pride and do whatever they can to hold onto them. Even what we would consider shit jobs. (sidebar- there's a major divide in Italy between the northerners and southerners. I would compare it to racism but they're all the same nationality so its more just straight-up prejudice. People in the north look down upon the south and see them as a disease to the rest of the country. They view them as lazy, uneducated, and basically good for nothing except crime.)

For those that aren't lucky to be gainfully employed, they're usually left to consider lives of crime. Which is where the mafia steps in.

The Mafia in Italy isn't what it's portrayed in American movies. It's much, much worse.

Their stranglehold on the country is incredible. They not only employ more people than the government, they obviously pay much better. Generations of the lower class, especially in the south, are in turn endeared to the organization despite the killing, extortion, and drug running. Like Robin Hood. 

Just like American gangs, they prey upon and recruit kids young and indoctrinate them

And in a scenario so Italian it hurts, in the middle of this entire crackdown on organized crime, Italy has allowed one of the most notorious hitmen in its country's history to become a free man.

A man so ruthless he was dubbed, "The Human Slayer". A nickname straight out of Game Of Thrones.

NY Post - A notorious Sicilian Mafia killer dubbed the “people slayer” — who admitted to a role in more than 100 killings, including a boy who was dissolved in acid — was freed from Italian prison Monday after serving just 25 years.

Giovanni Brusca, 64, who turned from La Cosa Nostra hitman to government informant was cut loose from Rome’s Rebibbia prison, sparking outrage from elected officials and the families of his victims, the BBC reported.

The notorious killer had a hand in several of the Italian mafia’s most infamous slayings, including the 1992 rubout of anti-mafia Judge Giovanni Falcone, who was blown up along with his wife and three bodyguards as they were driving near Palermo.

Brusca also ordered the killing of 11-year-old Giuseppe Di Matteo, the son of a rival gangster. He had the boy kidnapped, tortured, strangled and his body disolved in acid, the BBC reported.

I don't give a shit how many people you turned on, how good your behavior behind bars was. A person this vile deserves no second chance. But Italy is gonna Italy and continue to be a country that hasn't been able to get out of its own way for centuries. 

Will continue to keep everybody updated on this story as things develop. Still waiting on testimony to start to come out from witnesses as it has to be absolute gold. So stay tuned.

p.s. - Big Perm Jeff Nadu was blowing me up back when he was still here to start "The Sitdown" with him. As good and original of an idea as I thought it was, I was afraid of becoming blackballed and the drama that would follow so I passed up on it. Something I think I really regret now seeing how much people seem to enjoy it.