Italy: Police arrest five Mafia suspects in Sicily

Palermo, 25 Nov. (AKI) - Police on Tuesday arrested five people including the wife of jailed Mafia boss Antonino Madonia, in the Sicilian city of Palermo, and seized suspected Mafia assets worth 15 million euros. Madonia's wife, Maria Angela Di Trapani, is suspected of taking orders from her husband in prison. She and the other four - none of whom were named - are suspected of Mafia association and extortion.

The assets seized in the operation, codenamed 'Rebus' by police, include farmland and farm buildings, villas, apartments and businesses in Sicily.

Anti-Mafia investigators believe the assets belong to the Madonias, a prominent Mafia family in Sicily.

The family head, Francesco Madonia, died in March last year.

But his jailed sons, Antonino, Giuseppe and Salvatore, have continued to run the Madonia clan, issuing orders via Di Trapani and exchanging information with the Di Trapani clan, according to investigators.

The three Madonia brothers are all in high-security detention under a supposedly harsh regime for Mafia prisoners that is meant to severely restrict their contact with other prisoners and the outside world.

Palermo's chief prosecutor, Francesco Messineo said on Tuesday the 'Rebus' operation had shown the "inefficency" of the current regime for Mafia detainees.

In a separate swoop on Tuesday, police in the southern Italian city of Crotone arrested 24 people suspected of associating with the Calabrian Mafia or 'Ndrangheta.

The suspects are also accused of illegal possession of arms, extortion, damage to local business people, trafficking of heroin, hashish and marijuana.

Police also confiscated six heavy weapons and ammunition caches as well as an entire marijuana plantation worth 1.2 million euros.

During the probe, investigators uncovered extensive 'Ndrangheta interference in Crotone's local politics and the city's administration.

Investigators revealed 'special' relationships with local politicians and administrators and 'Ndrangheta bosses.

The 'Ndrangheta had also tried to penetrate the potentially lucrative 'Europaradiso' project aimed developing tourism in the region, by bribing local officials, according to investigators.

Located in a nature reserve near Crotone - 'Europaradiso' would be one of the biggest tourist centres in the Mediterranean with 120,000 beds and create work for 4,000 people. The project is now on hold.

A report earlier this year by the Italian Parliament's anti-Mafia commission, likens the 'Ndrangheta to Al-Qaeda because of its tentacle-like structure and lack of hierarchy.

It is characterised by close blood ties and a global reach which was highlighted by the massacre of six young Italian men outside a pizzeria in Duisburg, Germany in August 2007.


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