Over 150 suspects arrested in German-Italian anti-mafia sweep

169 arrested in Italy, Germany in operation targeting Calabrian mafia

Mafia op nabs 169 in Italy, Germany (2)

Italian military police and German police arrested 169 people, including two mayors in Crotone, southwest Italy, in an anti-mafia operation, Italian wire service ANSA reported January 9.

Those arrested are suspected of participating in a mafia-type ('ndrangheta) organised criminal group, attempted murder, extortion, money laundering, firearms-related offences and other crimes.

At least 5 000 restaurants in Italy are in the hands of organised crime groups, the country's biggest agricultural association Coldiretti said on Tuesday.

The raid targeted the Farao-Marincola clan, allegedly operating in Calabria, but also in the Lazio region surrounding Rome, and in the northern Emilia, Veneto and Lombardy regions.

Investigators said that the clan had taken over the local economy around the Calabrian town of Cirò Marina before branching out into Germany where Calabrian restaurateurs were ordered to buy wine and pizza dough from the mafia.

In Germany, arrests were made in the Hessen and Baden-Württemberg regions.

As for its illegal businesses in Italy, according to the Calabria police, the Farao-Marincola clan developed "a criminal holding, with a pervasive infiltration" of various economic sectors, including agribusiness, garbage collection, slot-machines, migrant assistance and public tenders.

The 'Ndrangheta network is based in southern Italy but has expanded its reach into the rest of Europe, the BBC's James Reynolds reports from Rome.

The aim was "to limit the use of violence as much as possible and avoid the internal struggles that are bad for business", Italian police said in a statement.

Numerous 160 arrest warrants - issued for mafia association, attempted murder, money laundering, extortion and illegal weapons - targeted suspects already serving time for other crimes.

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