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Police arrest 20 alleged mafia members in Rome after ex-wives reveal location

Italian authorities seize properties worth €20m from Casamonica crime clan, including villas, a petrol station and a bar

A special task force of 150 Italian police has swooped in on Rome’s notorious Casamonica criminal clan, arresting 20 alleged members and confiscating €20 (Dh82.5m) million in assets after two embittered ex-wives gave information to authorities.

The clan, which operates on the outskirts of the capital and in hill towns near it, is famed for its lavish lifestyle and bling: gold taps and baths and gilded furniture described as Scarface-chic.

In dawn raids on Thursday, officers with drones arrested 20 alleged mob members and found large sums of cash, gold watches, guns and jewellery.

Police sequestered several properties, including villas, a petrol station and a bar, with property amounting to €20m, believed to be funded by revenue from extortion, loan sharking and racketeering.

Video footage of one of the villas that was seized in Monterosi, a village in the Lazio region about 30km north of Rome, reveals a gaudy gold dining table set with antique glasses and surrounded by gilded chairs.

Two ex-wives of two members of the clan acted as informants – known as petiti – providing the inside information that led to the capture of the alleged members.

In the past, petiti have often spoken about how they had been controlled by their husbands and male family members, often subject to silence, told to stay at home and carry out domestic tasks. However, in recent years women have become more senior in the clan’s hierarchy.

“The different branches of the family are jealous of each other, but when there is a problem they come together, united,” one of the ex-wives was quoted by local media as saying. “They are like a wolf pack. That’s how they work.”

 Italian carabinieri during the maxi operation that hit the Casamonica Roman crime family, Rome, Italy, 17 July 2018.  EPA-EFE
 Italian carabinieri during the maxi operation that hit the Casamonica Roman crime family, Rome, Italy, 17 July 2018.  EPA-EFE

Italian police have cracked down on loan sharks as businesses suffered from the draconian coronavirus lockdown measures that only began easing last month.

"Starting today they can breathe," Interior Minister Undersecretary Carlo Sibilia said, referring to the alleged loan-sharking victims who had been threatened by the clan.

Mr Sibilia recognised that the raids came at a time when “artisans and business owners are paying the effects of the pandemic and struggling to overcome the crisis”.

The Casamonica clan was founded in 1970 and it claims to “protect Rome” from the takeover of other large organised crime families such as the Camorra in Naples.

Two years ago, 250 carabinieri – Italian military police – arrested 31 members of the Casamonica clan in one of the largest raids on the crime syndicate.

Updated: June 18, 2020 03:42 PM

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