Italian police find ‘complex system trafficking vehicles stolen in Italy destined for Malta’

Maltese among 56 placed under criminal investigation in massive Calabria anti-mafia swoop


Italian police on Thursday morning dismantled a massive ‘Ndrangheta mafia ring ruling over a large area of southern Calabria and seized assets of over €200 million that involved Malta and individuals in Malta.

Two people from Malta have been placed under investigation who the Italian police say are tied to and working with the powerful mafia organisation, some of whom are top ‘Ndrangheta operatives currently imprisoned and have been charged in an ongoing ‘maxi-trial’.

In a statement released on Thursday after the swoop, the Italian State Police reported the discovery that part of the ring was dedicated to a “complex system of trafficking vehicles stolen in Italy destined for other countries, in particular to Malta and Romania, which was being managed by organised crime leaders.”

The Italian police did not list any of the names of the people involved, but sections of the Italian press named them all.

These include the two people from Malta that have been placed under criminal investigation, who were more than likely involved in the illicit stolen vehicle trade.

These were 59-year-old Marco German and 56-year-old William McManus. The vehicles in question are believed to include agriculture and other heavy machinery.

They are among the 56 people now placed under criminal investigation for crimes including mafia-related conspiracy, extortion, kidnapping, bribery and weapons possession.

The operation also involved businessmen, a regional councillor released from prison just days earlier, a former head of the regional tourism board and two civil servants, the Italian police said.

The incarcerated boss of the clan, Luigi ‘The Supreme’ Mancuso, is the biggest catch in the mega mafia trial that started in January 2021. Still, police said his clan and affiliates, including the La Rosa and Accortini families, have continued to dominate the Vibo Valentia province in the toe of Italy’s boot.

Thursday’s operation, Italian police said, focussed on, “Their control of the territory and the extortion practice of the group against accommodation facilities and public and private building sites.”

Also controlling the bulk of cocaine flowing into Europe, the ‘Ndrangheta has surpassed Sicily’s Cosa Nostra in terms of both power and wealth. It has extended far beyond its rural origins and now operates internationally, with illegal gains reinvested in the legitimate economy. It has also set Malta firmly in its sights.

The police said the sting on Thursday extended to other parts of Calabria and the provinces of Catanzaro, Vibo Valentia, Reggio Calabria, Rome, Palermo, Avellino, Benevento, Parma, Milan, Cuneo, L’Aquila and Perugia, and Milan.

In a press conference, anti-mafia prosecutor Nicola Gratteri, whose fight against the ‘Ndrangheta has forced him to live with a police escort for over 30 years, described the group as a “fierce mafia syndicate” controlling areas around the tourist resort of Tropea.

Anti-mafia prosecutor Nicola Gratteri, whose fight against the ‘Ndrangheta has forced him to live with a police escort for over 30 years.

Francesco Messina, who leads Italy’s organised crime investigative unit (DAC), cited the clan’s economic power and its local reliance on “substantial” extortion activity.

The “total absence” of complaints to the authorities was striking, Messina said, underscoring the ‘Ndrangheta’s power to intimidate.

The authorities also uncovered the existence of intermediaries in charge of obtaining accreditation for foreign investments linked to promoting tourism through contacts with people close to Calabria’s tourism department who facilitated the allocation of public funds.

Thursday’s operation was carried out by the State Police’s Central Operations Service and the mobile squads of Vibo Valentia and Catanzaro.

State Police Anti-crime director Francesco Messina emphasised how the operation shattered “a powerful mafia coterie,” and that the “huge sum” of assets recovered “confirms the economic might of a ‘Ndrangheta clan that has now been hit.

Messina added, “The massive judicial police operation brought to conclusion by the State Police has made it possible to dismantle a fierce mafia consortium attributable to the crimes of the ‘Ndrangheta in Vibonese. For at least four years it constantly engaged in the massive perpetration of various crimes that polluted the local economy of the areas close to the renowned tourist resort of Tropea.

“In the face of the consistent extortion activity by the disjointed mafia structure against a great many local businesses, both the total absence of complaints to the authorities is striking”.

This latest blow to the mafia in Italy follows last week’s arrest of the Sicilian mafia’s “boss of bosses” Matteo Messina Denaro, who was sentenced to life in prison nearly 20 years ago for multiple murders, including the slaying of two prominent prosecutors.


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1 month ago

I cannot image a foreigner buying a Yacht Berthing facility in Sicily without the Mafia’s approval. One reason why foreign investment is totally or almost missing in Sicily. A story yet to be told?

Godfrey Leone Ganado
Godfrey Leone Ganado
1 month ago

I wonder whether the Maltese persons mentioned are, directly or indirectly, clients of Robert Abela.

1 month ago

WE will see who the Italian Police will pick up during their trips in Italy. Again the Italian Police doing the Commissioner of Police work in Malta.

Frans Cassar
Frans Cassar
1 month ago

On another note, been to Tropea years ago. Beautiful typical Italian “Borgo” with
crystal clear blue sea and secluded beaches that are just amazing.

1 month ago

So stolen high value cars from Canada are found at the Freeport . Congratulations.
Stolen construction vehicles from Italy have never been reported found in Malta. Very strange. Maybe the Commissioner should have a walk around Malta.

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