Swiss-Italo police operation nets 75 mafia suspects

Searches were carried out at homes and businesses in cantons Aargau, Solothurn, Zug and Ticino, in cooperation with the Federal Office of Police, the Office of the Attorney General of Switzerland said on Tuesday. Keystone/ennio Leanza

The Italian and Swiss authorities have arrested 75 people in a joint raid against Italy’s ’Ndrangheta mafia.

This content was published on July 21, 2020 - 12:27
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The arrests in Italy and Switzerland on Tuesday morning were the result of “years of intense investigative work” by Italian and Swiss prosecutors and police, Italy’s financial crime police, the Guardia di Finanza, said in a statement.

The 75 arrested are accused of mafia association, international drug trafficking, money laundering, false registration of assets, and corruption.

The authorities also seized assets worth €169 million ($193 million) and placed under investigation – but did not arrest – a further 83 suspects, the Guardia di Finanza said. Over 700 police officers participated in the operation in Italy.

In Switzerland, one person was arrested in canton Aargau and is being held in custody. Searches were carried out at homes and businesses in cantons Aargau, Solothurn, Zug and Ticino, in cooperation with the Federal Office of Police, the Office of the Attorney General of Switzerland said on Tuesday. Weapons, ammunition and money were seized. Two other suspects were interrogated by Swiss police and later released.

Monday’s joint action was linked to criminal proceedings being conducted by the Swiss attorney general’s office involving six Italian nationals, most of whom live in Switzerland.

They are suspected of supporting or participating in a criminal organisation, money laundering, receiving stolen goods, handling counterfeit money, and weapons and drug trafficking.

“The accused have been living for many years in Switzerland and, presumably, carried out the illegal activities along with legal activities, such as investments, granting loans or even the management of a restaurant. All of these activities are believed to have reinforced the strength of the criminal organization,” the attorney general’s office said.

The Guardia di Finanza said the mafia targets were members of ’Ndrangheta families based on the western coast of Calabria, between the towns of Lamezia Terme and Vibo Valentia.

Italy’s southern Calabria region is the historical home of the ’Ndrangheta, one of the world's most powerful organized crime groups. But the ’Ndrangheta has long branched out from Calabria, making substantial inroads across Europe, North America and Australia, and is considered the leading smuggler of cocaine into Europe.

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