Italian police arrested more than 300 people Thursday in the biggest operation against the mafia since a crackdown on Sicily’s Cosa Nostra 30 years ago.
Night-time raids were conducted by 2,500 paramilitary police officers, some of them equipped with night-vision goggles, as well as soldiers from the army’s parachute regiment and elite helicopter-borne tactical units.
The coordinated raids targeted the feared ‘Ndrangheta mafia from Calabria, the southern region that forms the toe of the Italian boot.
Police said they had dismantled a sophisticated criminal web that linked mafiosi with politicians, lawyers, accountants and Freemasons.
In one of the properties that was raided they found a scrap of paper with details of the secret blood oath that new members of the ‘Ndrangheta must swear, replete with esoteric references to swords and white horses.
Among the 334 people arrested was a former MP in Silvio Berlusconi’s party and a colonel in the police force, as well as the head of the association of mayors in Calabria. They were charged with crimes ranging from murder and extortion to loan sharking, money laundering and mafia association.
feature image courtesy of AFP/Getty