Racket earned Rome mafia "more money than drug trafficking"
Judicial documents have revealed that funding destined for immigrants and members of the Roma community was the main source of income for the alleged mafia syndicate operating in Rome, according to Italian news agency ANSA.
There are currently about 100 politicians, public officials and business people under police investigation for alleged mafia activity, including Gianni Alemanno who was mayor of Rome from 2008 to 2013.
Among the 37 arrests on 3 December is notorious Roman underworld figure Massimo Carminati, the alleged leader of the capital's mafia which – according to prosecutors – operated independently of other mafia associations in southern Italy, such as the Camorra or Cosa Nostra.
A former member of the Nuclei Armati Rivluzionari (NAR) neofascist terrorist group as well as the former Banda della Magliana crime gang, Carminati lost an eye in a police shoot-out three decades ago and inspired the "Nero" character from the book Romanzo Criminale.
Also arrested was Carminati's right-hand man Salvatore Buzzi who was caught on wire-tap in early 2013 boasting about how much money the mafia creamed off funds for emergency housing for immigrants and camps for Roma people. Buzzi was recorded saying that the criminals made €40 million a year from the immigrant funds, a racket "more profitable than drug trafficking."
The other sectors the Rome mafia infiltrated allegedly include waste management, recycling and parks maintenance. In the wiretap Buzzi is also heard saying that the mafia must try and get Alemanno's successor Ignazio Marino onside, although he conceded it wouldn't be easy, saying: "Nobody trusts Marino."
The so-called Mafia Capitale scandal has been condemned by Italian premier Matteo Renzi, who said he was "shocked and angry", but noted that the case involved politicians from all sides. He has now put the Rome branch of his party under the administration of a specially appointed commissioner, Matteo Orfini.
The corrupt practices in relation to the targeting of refugees and Roma people was also condemned by the United Nations refugee agency (UNHCR).
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