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‘Ndrangheta: Italian grandma tips off police to bring down mafia clan

A tip from an Italian grandmother hoping to save her grandson from drugs helped lead police to dismantle a mafia drug ring operating in the southern Calabria region, authorities said Wednesday.

'Ndrangheta: Italian grandma tips off police to bring down mafia clan
(Photo by Gianluca CHININEA / AFP)

Police said 18 people were arrested on suspicion of drug dealing around the Calabrian district of Cetraro as part of the “Muto” clan.

The clan is one of many within the infamous ‘Ndrangheta, an organised crime syndicate considered one of the world’s most powerful, whose main business is drug trafficking.

“The grandmother went to the Carabinieri (police) to ask them to save her grandson who was being devoured by the world of drugs,” Colonel Piero Sutera, commander of the local Carabinieri police force, told a press conference.

READ ALSO: Meet the ’Ndrangheta: It’s time to bust some myths about the Calabrian mafia

Large amounts of cocaine moved by the clan were acquired through a broker operating on the other side of Calabria, according to investigators, who said they had discovered 250 episodes of drug dealing.

The group was also involved in extorting entrepreneurs operating in the tourism sector, one of whom had sought the help of police.

“People have suffered and seen the arrogance of these criminals who insisted on extorting money,” anti-mafia prosecutor Nicola Gratteri told reporters, as quoted by the Gazzetta del Sud daily.

READ ALSO: Meet Nicola Gratteri, the prosecutor leading Italy’s battle against the mafia

(Photo by Alberto PIZZOLI / AFP)

Gratteri, who is the lead prosecutor in an ongoing “maxi-trial” against the ‘Ndrangheta elsewhere in Calabria with over 300 defendants, said some of the extorted money went to clan members in jail and their families, the paper reported.

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CRIME

New York returns 214 stolen artworks to Italy in seven months

Authorities in New York announced on Thursday the return to Italy of 14 more antiquities, worth an estimated €2.3 million, as part of an investigation into smuggling of stolen artifacts.

New York returns 214 stolen artworks to Italy in seven months

The Manhattan District Attorney’s office has been conducting an extensive investigation over the past two years into looted antiquities that have ended up in New York museums and galleries — including the prestigious Metropolitan Museum of Art.

During a ceremony on Thursday with the Italian consul general and Italian police representatives, 14 more artifacts – some 2,600 years old – were officially returned to Italy, bringing the total number of repatriated pieces to that country over the past seven months to 214, District Attorney Alvin Bragg’s office said.

READ ALSO: Italian ‘art squad’ police recover 800 illegally-excavated archaeological finds

More than 700 pieces worth more than $100 million have been returned in the past year to 17 countries, including Italy as well as Cambodia, India, Pakistan, Egypt, Iraq, and Greece, the statement added.

New York, a hub of stolen antiquities trafficking for decades, set up a task force in 2017 to investigate the illicit trade.

According to the statement by District Attorney Bragg, who took office in January 2022, Thursday’s repatriation included the silver “Sicily Naxos Coin,” minted around 430 BCE and currently valued at half a million dollars.

Other notable items included ancient pottery dating to 510 BCE, and amarble head of Roman Emperor Hadrian, dating to 200 CE.

Among the culprits behind the 14 returned pieces, the statement said, were well-known art traffickers Giacomo Medici and Giovanni Franco Becchina, as well as Robert Hecht, the Paris-based American art dealer who died in 2012.

The traffickers had “relied on gangs of tombaroli (tomb raiders) to loot carefully chosen and insufficiently guarded archaeological sites throughout the Mediterranean,” it added.

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