‘Ndrangheta: Matina murder in Stefanaconi, the Supreme Court confirms two life sentences

November 25, 2020 | Original article by Giuseppe Baglivio | From ilVibonese.it | Translated from Italian

Two  life sentences and one 30-year prison sentence.  This is the sentence of the Supreme Court against the defendants for the  attempted murder  and then for  the murder of Giuseppe Matina,  known as “Gringia”, of Stefanaconi. The trial at first instance took place with an  abbreviated procedure  which allowed a penalty equal to one third in the event of a conviction. “Discount” which in this case was only worth the failure to sentence to daytime solitary confinement for the defendants who were sentenced to life imprisonment. Life imprisonment  confirmed (as decided on appeal) for the brothers:  Giuseppe Patania  (cl. ’80) and  Salvatore Patania  (cl. “78), while  Saverio Patania (cl. ’76)  was sentenced to 30 years  of imprisonment. They are all sons of Fortunato Patania. As for  Nicola Figliuzzi , from Sant’Angelo di Gerocarne, a collaborator of justice, already on appeal he was sentenced to  11 years  and 6 months of imprisonment instead of the 20 years of the first degree of trial.

The Patanias were all accused of the  attempted murder  of Giuseppe Matina, committed in Stefanaconi on December 27, 2011, while Figliuzzi would have participated in the  meetings,  together with the principals, in which the ambush was planned and then not successful for reasons beyond the control of the authors. What  perpetrators  of the attempted murder of Joseph Matina – time husband of  Loredana Patania,  nephew Fortunato Patania and then moved with the deployment of cousins and Aunt Josephine Iacopetta – were named  Cosimo Caglioti  of Sant’Angelo Gerocarne, a relative of Patania , and  Francesco Lopreiato, for which a separate judgment proceeded together with  Alex Loielo,  also from Sant’Angelo di Gerocarne, and  Alessandro Bartalotta  who allegedly warned – according to the accusation –  the members of the firing group of the  arrival of the victim who he found on board his Fiat 500 along the “Stefanaconi-Varì” provincial road. The  accused  were also charged with the illegal possession of the shotgun loaded with buckshot with which the attempted murder was carried out. The latest accusation concerned the theft of the car, a Fiat Panda, used for the failed ambush. 

The murder of “Gringia” 

Joseph Matina , said “Gringia”, was then killed 20 February 2012 and which instigators of the crime were accused  all three brothers Patania,  while Figliuzzi would have the task of providing killer van used by the action of fire. The murder was allegedly carried out by  Arben Brahimi  (Macedonian killer who later joined the ranks of collaborators of justice) and  Cristian Loielo , from Sant’Angelo di Gerocarne. Francesco and Andrea Lopreiato Patani to would rather have had the task of recovering the killers after the artillery action to bring them to a safe place. The weapons for the ambush would have been provided by  Damiano Caglioti, of Sant’Angelo di Gerocarne. 

Giuseppe Matina

For Arben Ibrahimi, Cristian Loielo, Francesco Lopreiato, Andrea Patania and Damiano Caglioti, the DDA of Catanzaro decided to  proceed separately  with an immediate judgment. Also in this case the accused are challenged with the accusations of complicity in theft of the vehicles used for the murder and possession of the weapons used to  kill Giuseppe Matina. 

Offended parties.  Injured parties in the attempted murder and murder of  “Gringia”  are indicated the wife Loredana Patania and the other family members of the victim, namely Domenico, Nazzareno and Caterina Matina (assisted by the lawyer Giovanna Fronte).

Although the fact of blood (murder and attempted murder of Giuseppe Matina) is part of the larger  investigation called “Gringia”  and is part of the “mafia war” that saw  the Patanias opposed  to the Stefanaconi clan which would be headed by Emilio Bartolotta – in addition to another feud that saw the Patania opposed to the Piscopisani clan -, the DDA of Catanzaro has chosen to divide what appears to be a single investigation governed by a single thread-conductor into different procedural sections   The process  called  “Gringia” was thus celebrated in the Court of Assizes in Catanzaro  in which other bloody facts are disputed to the same defendants, while for the mafia association it was preferred to proceed with a distinct operation called  “Criminal novel” .

This article was originally posted “here

Diamonds In The Sky: Mob Sleeper Kenny Arabia Stayed Loyal To Uncle’s Killers In Philly Mafia During Rise

November 25, 2020 – Slain Philadelphia mafia figure Dominick (Mickey Diamond) DeVito was found hog-tied and shot to death in the trunk of Kenny Arabia’s Caddy almost 40 years ago. Arabia was DeVito’s nephew and sometimes driver. DeVito had been driving Arabia’s Cadillac Seville the night he went missing in 1982.

Displaying a keen gangland instinct, instead declaring any desire for vengeance, Arabia made nice with his uncle’s killers. It was the right call. And one his uncle himself probably would have concurred with.

DeVito was a pragmatist and the prototypical mob politician and con man. Well-liked and always perfectly-coiffed, the jack-of-all-trades wiseguy Mickey Diamond was a mover and shaker in the South Philly underworld of the 1970s and early 1980s.

While not a household name in Philly mob affairs, Arabia, a convicted-felon and drug peddler, has existed on the fringes of the Bruno-Scarfo crime family for some time. Unlike his uncle, who was flashy and known to be loud, Arabia favors stealth and quiet. In other words, he’s comfortable not getting any headlines.

Well, he could be on the verge of getting top billing soon. Considering the stakes, it can be assumed he’d rather remain lower down the marquee.

The 67-year old Arabia was arrested for racketeering and narcotics trafficking offenses this week along with reputed Philly mob underboss Steven (Handsome Stevie) Mazzone and alleged Philly mob captain Domenic (Baby Dom) Grande. Holding an administrative post in the Bruno-Scarfo crime family since the 1990s, Mazzone, 56, isn’t accused of drug dealing in the current case.

The up-and-coming Grande, 41, used Arabia to seize a series of rackets in Atlantic City, per the indictment which alleges the crime family launched a campaign in 2015 to reestablish a firmer presence in the Boardwalk gambling town it once lorded over unchallenged. The man who made that dominance possible was Nicodemo (Little Nicky) Scarfo, the Philly mafia’s blood-lusting, power-hungry don of the 1980s who headquartered in A.C. for the majority of his well-chronicled career.

It was long-simmering tension between Little Nicky Scarfo and Arabia’s uncle, “Mickey Diamond” DeVito, that ultimately resulted in DeVito’s untimely demise. Upon Scarfo becoming boss in 1981, the diminutive Cowboy gangster-icon set off on a purge of his enemies, both real and perceived.

DeVito disappeared on February 22, 1982 on his way to a meeting at a New Jersey pizza parlor with the Marconi brothers (Mark and Funzi), a pair of button men in the Bruno-Scarfo crime family. Scarfo gave the contract to the Marconis because they had a business relationship with DeVito and wanted to test their loyalty to his newly-minted regime.

In fact, it was a beef involving the Marconi brothers and a key Scarfo ally back in the 1960s, that soured Little Nicky on Mickey Diamond for good.

According to FBI informant debriefings, Scarfo’s best friend, Salvatore (Chuckie) Merlino, was having an affair with one of the Marconis’ nieces and had allegedly disrespected her resulting in the Marconis seeking permission to murder Merlino to protect their family honor. Scarfo had hoped DeVito could convince the Marconis to back down, but instead DeVito encouraged the contract because he was promised some of Merlino’s rackets by the Marconis if Merlino was killed.

Eventually, Philly Godfather Angelo Bruno ruled against killing Chuckie Merlino, believing Scarfo explanation of the situation being misconstrued by the Marconis.  Little Nicky took DeVito’s position in the matter as a personal slight and held a grudge.

Bruno was assassinated in March 1980. Scarfo became boss a year later and named Chuckie Merlino his underboss. Getting rid of DeVito was near the top of Little Nicky’s to-do list when he took the throne.

The Marconis and another Scarfo lieutenant, Pasquale (Pat the Cat) Spirito, shot Mickey Diamond to death and stuffed his body into the trunk of his nephew’s older-model silver-colored Cadillac Seville that he had driven to what he thought was a touch-base about drug-dealing activity in New Jersey, but was in fact his slaughter. Authorities came upon DeVito’s corpse, his hands and feet bound behind him and wrapped in green-colored garbage bags, on February 25, 1982.

Kenny Arabia identified his uncle’s body. Even after DeVito’s slaying, Arabia continued making a living in the underworld and was linked to the Marconi brothers, who died of natural causes in 2006 and 2012, respectively. Per FBI records, Arabia was partnered with Marc Marconi’s son Gino in a drug operation in the 1990s before Gino Marconi was gunned down on orders of Philly mob bosses for refusing to pay a street tax.

Spirito was killed on Scarfo’s orders in the months that followed the Mickey Diamond hit. Scarfo ordered more than 30 gangland homicides, some never carried out, in his less-than-a-decade reign as head of the mafia in Philly

Little Nicky Scarfo and Chuckie Merlino were incarcerated in the spring of 1987 and never saw the light of day in the free world again. Scarfo succumbed to heart failure in 2017 and Merlino died of cancer in prison in 2012.

Merlino’s son, Joseph (Skinny Joey) Merlino is the boss of the Philly mafia today. Arabia’s alleged partner in the narcotics business is Daniel (Cozy) Castelli, a father-in-law to one of Merlino’s closest friends.  

Per Monday’s indictment, Arabia and Castelli met with a mob capo in November 2015 and assigned a group of newly-initiated soldiers to put to work in Atlantic City. Arabia and Castelli were spearheading a Philly mob resurgence in the area as the boots on the ground, allegedly cutting into independent drug dealing, loan sharking and gambling rackets and setting up shop in their own, prosecutors claim.

This article was originally posted here

‘Ndrangheta: assets seized for 2 million and fish gang boss

November 24, 2020 | Original article by ANSA Editorial Staff | From ANSA.it Calabria | Translated from Italian

(ANSA) – REGGIO CALABRIA, NOV 24 – Assets for about two million euros were seized by the Reggio Calabria Anti-Mafia Investigation Department, under the supervision of the District Attorney Giovanni Bombardieri and the Deputy Prosecutor Gaetano Paci and in execution of a court order – Prevention Measures Section, against Vincenzo Pesce, 67, from Rosarno, a leading exponent of the homonymous hegemonic clan, together with that of the Bellocco family, in Rosarno.

Pesce reported 2 definitive convictions for simple and mafia conspiracy for acts committed in the years 1980 and 1989 and following which he had already been subjected to the measure of special surveillance by PS for 3 years.

In June 2014 he was involved in the “‘Ndrangheta Banking” operation, conducted by the Dia Operational Center of Reggio together with the Carabinieri of the Ros of Reggio and coordinated by the DDA, which had led to the discovery of a parallel credit system through which the gangs granted loans at usurious rates to Calabrian and Lombard entrepreneurs in difficulty. 

Pesce would have operated as de facto dominus of the individual company “Maduli Biagio Francesco”, in favor of which, thanks to the relationship with Vincenzo Carmine Barbieri, another entrepreneur considered colluding, a contract by the Municipality of Rosarno for road maintenance works for 40 thousand was awarded EUR. For this Pesce was sentenced to 4 years for fictitious registration of assets with the aggravating circumstance of having facilitated the ‘Ndrangheta.

The kidnapping was ordered for the social dangerousness both “qualified” for belonging to the ‘Ndrangheta and “generic” as a subject who lives on illicit proceeds. From the investigations of the Dia it emerged for Pesce the availability of two companies in the name of nominees as well as an evident disproportion between the declared income compared to the investments made over time. 

The measure concerned two companies operating in the construction of buildings and non-hazardous solid waste disposal sector, 8 buildings and various agricultural land, 10 including self-propelled machinery, a trailer, a semi-trailer, several trucks and a car and company financial relations.

This article was originally posted “here

The betting round: “The referee deserves to be hanged”

November 24, 2020 | Original article from Live Sicilia | Translated from Italian

PALERMO – “… that referee deserves to be hanged, the penalty of one to one is scandalous … that referee must be sent away, in three minutes Bologna has conceded three goals”, so said Pasquale Somma, from this morning to under house arrest, to Vincenzo Fiore who instead ended up in prison on charges of being one of the leaders of the criminal group that allegedly managed a round of clandestine betting.

That time he had gone badly and had to pay the winnings to a bettor who had invested a lot of money. And here is one of the keys to the blitz coordinated by the Palermo Anti-Mafia District Directorate.

In the parallel round, the money of those who do not want to be tracked ends. In authorized betting centers it is not possible to wager more than 2,000 euros in cash. And instead of outlaw bets, a lot of them were handled under the table. Four, five, six thousand euros on a single sporting event.

When entering one of the betting rooms that had been seized , customers could choose whether to use the legal circuit or to withdraw and make the bet flow to one of the pirate online platforms, which corresponded to as many current accounts.

Everyone wins: the dealer who can launder dirty money and accumulate money without having to pay taxes, but also the bettor who is guaranteed a higher odds in case of winning.

The payments were timely because the credibility of the illegal circuit must never fail otherwise the toy breaks. Once again it is the interceptions of the financiers of the economic-financial police unit that bring out the whirlwind round of money.

Fiore was taking stock of the takings with Christian Tortora, who also ended up in prison: “So 687… 130,000 a week… on the other side in four weeks a million and a half “. Once Fiore was even more explicit: “… I don’t want masters, I can’t have masters, I make mine, I make 5 million, 6 million, 4 million, 9 million I make them myself and I manage them”.

Even higher in the hierarchy, the deputy prosecutor Salvo De Luca and substitutes Dario Scaletta and Maria Pia Ticino place Salvatore Rubino, who has quickly become a big shot in the world of betting. And he would have tried to make a further qualitative leap, meeting in Trastevere, one of the best known “bookmakers” of the Roman square. One of the most skilled in creating betting sites linked to servers in Malta and Romania. He gave him a hand, but I was explicit: “In Rome we command, in Sicily you command”.

This article was originally posted “here

Australian Drug ‘Queen’ Sentenced to 18 Years in Jail

November 24, 2020 | Original article by Zdravko Ljubas published on November 20, 2020 | From Organized Crime and Corruption Project

A court in Melbourne sentenced on Thursday a 49-year-old woman who described herself as the “queen” of a criminal drug smuggling syndicate to 18 years in jail with a 13 years-long non-parole period, according to Australian Federal Police (AFP).

The woman, whose name was not revealed, was charged in early 2019 and was sentenced for “a string of serious illicit drug offences, including importing and trafficking commercial quantities of heroin.”

She was arrested in January last year along with seven others during a joint operation involving several law enforcement agencies.

The woman was involved in “a large-scale heroin smuggling operation believed to be responsible for the importation of an estimated AU$6 million ($4.37 million) worth of illicit drugs using international airline cabin crew, operating into Melbourne,” according to police.

“The alleged offenders are linked to the trafficking of at least six kilograms of high-grade heroin and eight kilograms of methamphetamine,” the law enforcement agencies said back then.

The ‘queen’ acted as the Australian contact for a Malaysian-based supplier.

“It was alleged in court her contacts would advise her of upcoming flights into Australia, where she would then facilitate cabin crew members to covertly import what were described as ‘tickets’ of heroin,” police said.

They added that she was involved in “multiple separate drug-related deals,” from October 2018 to January 2019, when she was arrested.

This article was originally posted “here

‘Ndrangheta: Piscopisani clan, 21 sentences requested

November 24, 2020 | Original article by GB published on November 23, 2020 | From ilVibonese.it | Translated from Italian

In addition to the leaders of the clan of Piscopio, among the defendants also the boss Cosmo Michele Mancuso of Limbadi. The investigation coordinated by the DDA and conducted by the Vibo Mobile Squad.

Requisition of the prosecutor of the Dda of Catanzaro, Andrea Mancuso, in the shortened section of the procedure born from the anti-mafia operation “Rimpiazzo” against the Piscopisani clan and some members of the Mancuso clan. These are the requests for sentencing for a total of almost 200 years in prison : 20 years of imprisonment were requested for Rosario Fiorillo , 30, known as “Pulcino, di Piscopio”; 13 years and 8 months Nazzareno Fiorillo , 54, called “U Tartaru”, from Piscopio, indicated as the head of the ‘ndrangheta’ club in Piscopio; 12 years old Michele Fiorillo (cl. ’86), called Zarrillo, indicated as one of the leaders of the clan (cousin of Rosario Fiorillo); 18 years and 6 months in prison for Sacha Fortuna , 40, from Vibo, living in the Bolognese area (brother of Davide Fortuna, killed in 2012 on the beach of Vibo Marina); 10 years and 8 months Caterina Cutrullà , 42, residing in Rioveggio, in the province of Bologna (wife of Sacha Fortuna); 10 years and 6 months  Francesco D’Ascoli , 48, from Vibo Marina; 8 years and 6 months Nazzareno Felice , 59, from Piscopio; 12 years old Nicola Finelli , 39, from Vibo Marina; 3 years old Michele Fiorillo (cl. ’87), 33 years old; 8 years old Pasquale Fiorillo , 31 years old, from Piscopio; 7 years (and a fine of 50 thousand euros)Giovanni Giardina , 42, from Palermo; 3 years and 6 months Luigi Maccarone , 42, from Limbadi; 9 years old Giuseppe Merlo , 46 years old, from Piscopio; 8 years old Saverio Merlo , 42 years old, from Piscopio; 12 years old  Raffaele Moscato , 34, from Vibo Marina, collaborator of justice; 3 years old  Michele Suppa , 28, from Vibo Valentia; 10 years and 6 months Salvatore Vita , 44, from Vibo Marina (already sentenced for the “Lybra” operation);  8 years old Gaetano Rubino , 39, from Ficarazzi (Pa); 12 years old Francesco La Bella, 47, from Piscopio; 3 years for Marco Fiorillo, 32 years old, of Piscopio (brother of Rosario Fiorillo); 8 years and 6 months for the boss of Limbadi Cosmo Michele Mancuso , 70 years old. The position of Giovanni Battaglia , 36, from Piscopio has been deleted. 

The total charges of the “Rimpiazzo” operation (the main one is the mafia association) are almost 80. The offended parties are 35  , some of which assisted by the lawyer Giovanna Fronte. Mafia association, extortion, illegal possession of weapons, drug trafficking, fictitious registration of assets, robbery and damage to the crimes, for various reasons, disputed. The operation started in April last year with the coordination of the DDA of Catanzaro, while the investigations on the “field” were conducted by the Mobile Squad of Vibo Valentia.

Attorneys engaged in the defense college: Francesco Muzzopappa, Sergio Rotundo, Antonio Porcelli, Giuseppe Di Renzo, Brunella Chiarello, Michelangelo Miceli, Leopoldo Marchese, Diego Brancia, Giovanni Vecchio, Letteria Porfidia, Guido Contestabile, Gregorio Viscomi, Walter Franzè, Salvatore Staiano, Francesco Gambardella, Francesco Sabatino, Luigi La Scala, Gabriele Bordoni, Gaetano Scalamogna, Maria Grazia Pianura, Michelina Suriano, Francesco Lione, Giuseppe Bagnato, Mario Murone, Luca De Fazio, Piera Farina, Domenico Anania, Antonio Turrisi, Rosa Giorno, Emanuele Papaleo, Gabriele D’Ottavio, Massimo Biffa, Francesco Calabrese, Giovambattista Puteri, Annalisa Pisano (lawyer of the collaborator Moscato), Sergio Mangiavillano, Antonio Rocco, Giosuè Monardo, Annalisa Pisano, Adele Manno, Giacinto Inzillo, Fabio Mirenzio, Giuseppe Pasquino, Nazzareno Latassa, Pasquale Grillo, Attilio Matacera,Alice Massara, Vianello Valerio Accorretti, Antonio Turrisi, Giuseppe Trimboli, Domenico La Blasca.

Other defendants were instead sent to trial in the last hearing before the Collegial Court of Vibo Valentia. READ HERE: ‘Ndrangheta: Piscopisani clan and Mancuso clan, 31 indicted.

This article was originally posted “here

Cosa Nostra and illegal betting: 15 arrests in Palermo

November 24, 2020 | Original article by Ricardo Lo Verso | From Live Sicilia | Translated from Italian

PALERMO – After the surrenders last June, the financial investigations on the Cosa Nostra betting agencies have continued until today’s blitz.

As delegated by the Public Prosecutor’s Office , the investigation is coordinated by the Deputy Prosecutor Salvo De Luca and by the deputies Dario Scaletta and Maria Pio Ticino, the financiers of the provincial command of Palermo , have executed an order signed by the judge for preliminary investigations Walter Turturici towards fifteen people, including well-known faces.

You are in prison: Salvatore Rubino, 59, Vincenzo Fiore, 42, Christian Tortora, 44, Rosario Chianello, 48, Michelangelo Guarino, 43, and Giovanni Di Noto, 46.

Nine under house arrest : Salvatore Barrale, 63, Maurizio Di Bella, 46, Pasquale Somma, 50, Giovanni Castagnetta, 36, Davide Catalano, 41 ( from April 2019 he receives 900 euros per month of citizenship income whose disbursement will be suspended), Giacomo Bilello, 36, Pietro Montalto, 31, Antonio Inserra, 55, and Salvatore Lombardo, 36.

They are accused in various ways of criminal association aimed at the abusive exercise of bets and fraud against the State, and fraudulent transfer of values.

The investigating judge ordered the preventive seizure of 6 betting agencies in Palermo and in the province of Naples, for a total estimated value of about one million euros. Over 100 soldiers are carrying out in Sicily and Campania.

In the first tranche of the investigation called “All-in” five “mafia companies” that had acquired the state concessions issued by the Customs and Monopoly Agency for the collection of games and sports bets were seized.

Then, however, as already reconstructed in this article of recent months, it was discovered that there was an illegal and parallel gaming network.

The anti-mafia specialists of the Gico of the Palermo economic-financial police unit have developed a second line of investigation. Two distinct criminal associations would have been organized, parallel but both attributable to Salvatore Rubino who, as it had emerged a few months ago, would have used mafia capital for his takeover. The two organizations ran a betting round of no less than 2.5 million euros per month .

The first criminal group, headed by Vincenzo Fiore and Christian Tortora and made up of Salvatore Barrale, Maurizio Di Bella, Pasquale Somma and Giovanni Castagnetta, managed a network of agencies entrusted to trusted people, called masters.

The second organization, which also managed betting centers through which illicit collection operated, had Chianello Rosario and Guarino Michelangelo as prominent figures and made use of the collaboration of Giovanni Di Noto, known as “Gianfranco”, already arrested on charges of being an element prominent member of the La Noce mafia family.

Davide Catalano, Giacomo Bilello, Pietro Montalto, Antonio Inserra and Salvatore Lombardo were also part of this criminal group.

The illegal collection of bets took place through the “screen” of agencies authorized by the Monopolies. The under-the-counter managers accepted bets that were not managed on the official network but through illegal foreign platforms.

This article was originally posted “here

Mexico denies deal to nab cartel leader in return for Cienfuegos

November 24, 2020 | Original article by Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador published November 23, 2020 | From Aljazeera

Salvador Cienfuegos was accused of conspiring with a cartel to smuggle drugs while serving as defence secretary.

Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador has denied that Mexico had agreed to capture a cartel leader for the United States in order to secure the return of ex-defence minister Salvador Cienfuegos from US custody.

News agency Reuters reported last week that Mexico agreed with US Attorney General William Barr to seek the arrest of a high-level Mexican drug cartel leader as part of a deal to get US drug trafficking charges against Cienfuegos dropped.

“There is no deal in the shadows,” Lopez Obrador said at his regular news conference on Monday, referring to media reports that Mexico had threatened to expel US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) agents over Cienfuegos’ arrest.

He said it was wrong to suggest that the US sent Cienfuegos back so that Mexico would send Washington a leader of organised crime.

“There is no deal in the shadows,” Lopez Obrador said at his regular news conference on Monday, referring to media reports that Mexico had threatened to expel US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) agents over Cienfuegos’ arrest.

He said it was wrong to suggest that the US sent Cienfuegos back so that Mexico would send Washington a leader of organised crime.

Cienfuegos’s arrest in Los Angeles in October followed a multi-year investigation that used wiretaps to track a military figure, dubbed “El Padrino”, Spanish for “The Godfather”, by traffickers.

Investigators concluded “El Padrino” was Cienfuegos.

Cienfuegos, 72, was secretly indicted by a federal grand jury in New York in 2019. He was accused of conspiring with the H-2 cartel in Mexico to smuggle thousands of kilos of cocaine, heroin, methamphetamine and marijuana while he was defence secretary from 2012 to 2018.

Gladys McCormick, a history professor at Syracuse University and an expert on US-Mexico relations, said that although arresting Cienfuegos fed into the narrative that the Mexican government is corrupt, it ultimately did not advance US political interests.

“At the end of the day, arresting Cienfuegos jeopardised future collaboration between the two militaries because it meant that no one on the Mexican side was safe from possible prosecution, even after helping the Americans,” McCormick told Aljazeera.

Cienfuegos returned to Mexico after a federal judge dropped the charges against him at Barr’s request. Under the agreement, he will face an investigation in Mexico.

Mexico has hailed Cienfuegos’s return as a victory for the country’s sovereignty and its demand to be treated as an equal partner by the US.

“All in all, freeing Cienfuegos without any charges or penalties showcases that his arrest was a complete debacle for both the DEA and DOJ [Department of Justice],” McCormick said.

US prosecutors said intercepted messages showed that Cienfuegos accepted bribes in exchange for ensuring the military did not take action against the cartel and that operations were initiated against its rivals. He was also accused of introducing cartel leaders to other corrupt Mexican officials.

This article was originally posted “here

Mafia, fugitive Giovanni De Luca arrested in Messina: hideout in a tunnel in a woman’s house

November 24, 2020 | Original article published November 18, 2020 at Giornale di Sicilia | Translated from Italian

The mafia fugitive Giovanni De Luca arrested in Messina  , wanted for a year and convicted of aggravated extortion. The operation was conducted by the men of the Messina Mobile Squad. The boss was hidden in a cavity made behind a refrigerator in the home of a woman who is under investigation for aiding and abetting and is now in the police station.

The police, coordinated by the Messina prosecutor Maurizio de Lucia and by the adjunct Vito di Giorgio, reconstructed the network of De Luca’s aiding and abetting and arrived at the fugitive boss, considered an emerging character of the Mafia “family” of Mare Grosso.

The messages that the fugitive sent to relatives and accomplices were intercepted by investigators who, a week ago, identified the lair. In the evening, confirmation arrived that it was the house where the wanted man was hiding and the blitz was triggered.

De Luca, nephew of the historic boss Nino, in November 2019, had escaped capture ordered by the Dda of Messina as part of the “Flower” investigation which ascertained that the clans had monopolized the security services in discos and places of the nightlife of the city.

From the investigation, it emerged among other things that the mafia was responsible for violent attacks on the patrons of various clubs and thus forced the owners of the business to hire and pay men from the clan for surveillance.

This article was originally posted “here

Meet the Remmo clan – the Arab gang that has become Germany’s most notorious organised crime family

November 24, 2020 | Original article by Justin Huggler published on November 22, 2020 | From The Telegraph

The arrest of three men this week in connection with last year’s €1bn (£892m) jewel heist at Dresden’s famous Green Vault museum has shone a rare light on the “Arab clans” who increasingly dominate organised crime in Berlin.

The arrested men are all members of the Remmo Clan, a single extended family that is one of the most feared in the German capital and has been implicated in a series of spectacular crimes in recent years. Two more family members wanted in connection with the Dresden robbery remain on the run from police.

Among those arrested this week is believed to be Wissam Remmo, who was convicted in February of the theft of a giant solid gold commemorative coin worth €3.75m (£3.3m) that disappeared without trace from one of Berlin’s best guarded museums on a spring night in 2017.

Another member of the family was convicted over a 2014 raid on a savings bank in which he and his accompices got away with €10m in cash before blowing the bank up on their way out.

The Remmo Clan are just one of the so-called “Arab clans”, extended families of Middle Eastern who control much of the drugs and illegal prostitution trade in Berlin, and defend their various turfs around the city with violence and intimidation.

Alongside the Remmos, there are the al-Zeins, the Abou Chakers, and the Miris, among others. Tourist shops even sell maps showing the city divided into their territories. Clan members are often unemployed and claim benefits, yet they flaunt their wealth, living in villas in Berlin’s most expensive neighbourhoods and driving Porsches and high-performance Mercedes. 

When it comes to the clans, It is hard to tell where real life ends and urban legend begins. One popular story tells how the current godfather of the Remmo Clan was stopped by police twenty years ago for driving with a defective tail light. Ten clan members immediately gathered around the car, and police had to call for reinforcements before they could take down his details. “I’ll f*** you in the ass, and your president too,” the godfather is said to have told officers.

Police who investigate the clans are said to take extraordinary precautions, travelling only by public transport and changing train several times to throw off tails. Prosecution cases against clan members have a habit of collapsing as threatened witnesses retract their accounts. The former leader of the al-Zein clan, a man popularly known as “El Presidente”, was found guilty of threatening the Arabic interpreter at the trial of his cousin with the words: “There are people here who want to die.”

The clans present a particular social problem for a country that has seen a huge influx of mostly Syrian asylum-seekers in recent years. The clans are the most visible face of Arab culture for many Berliners, and have done much to turn public feeling against asylum-seekers.

Yet the clan families have nothing to do with the 2015 migrant crisis, and many are not even Arab. They came to Germany in the Seventies to escape the civil war in Lebanon.  The Remmos and the al-Zeins are members of an Arabic-speaking Kurdish minority that had previously fled to Lebanon from Turkey.

Mohamed (left) and Abdul Majed Remmo are wanted but remain on the run CREDIT: POLICE HANDOUT/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock

They and the other clans took advantage of the Cold War division of Berlin to enter the West without paperwork. They flew to communist-controlled East Germany and bought cheap transit visas on arrival. Then they crossed to West Berlin, where authorities did not check their papers because they regarded the city as one. They could not be send back because of the turmoil in Lebanon, and were allowed to settle in Germany. 

Ahmad A. Omeirate, an economist who has studied the clans, has argued that Germany is the victim of its own failure to integrate the clan families, and that many turned to crime because they were not given work permits, forcing them to live on benefits.

“The Lebanese were not wanted, it was thought that they would return to their homeland after the end of the war,” Mr Omeirate told Berliner Zeitung newspaper in June. “As we can see today, that didn’t happen. We are reaping the fruits of the politics of the Eighties.”

The result is a parallel society where children are raised in a world of crime. In one case, a child from the Remmo clan is said to have taken live ammunition to school. Police in Berlin have spoken of the difficulty in dealing with families who aren’t afraid of arrest.

 “These families completely reject the German rule of law,” Michael Kuhr, a security expert, told BZ newspaper. “Problems are not solved in court, but within the clans. Conflicts are resolved with money without outsiders’ knowledge. And if one of them ends up getting convicted, they’re not bothered. German prisons are considered places of relaxation and part of the CV.”

In one notorious example, a prosecutor tracked down the mother of several clan members and asked her to use her influence to keep her sons out of trouble. Her response: “Jail makes men”.

Yet for all the lurid stories that have made them a staple of the German popular press, for many years the clans were not a priority for the German police. In part, that’s because while they may dominate the Berlin scene, on a national level they don’t actually account for a particularly high proportion of organised crime in Germany.

According to official figures, organised crime cost the German economy €691m in 2018, but the Arab clans only accounted for €17m. Until recently, most of their business has been relatively small-time: street level drug-dealing, pimping for illegal prostitutes, smuggling tobacco for shisha pipes. In a country with a history of kidnapping for ransom, and where former members of the far-Left Baader-Meinhof Gang still carry out regular bank robberies, that kept them off the authorities’ radar for many years.

But that has begun to change as the clans have moved into higher profile crime. It’s not just the Remmos. In 2017, members of the al-Zein clan were convicted of a 2014 raid on KaDeWe, Berlin’s anwer to Harrod’s, in which masked robbers sprayed teargas in a security guard’s face, smashed display cases and got away with €817,000 (£750,000) of jewellery.

Those sorts of incidents have spurred the authorities into action. Andreas Geisel, the Berlin regional interior minister, has ordered a zero tolerance policy towards any crime by clan members, however trivial. Police have pursued members for double parking. Mr Geisel describes it as a “policy of pinpricks”.

It hasn’t just been pinpricks, though. In 2018, prosecutors used a new law on the proceeds of crime to seize properties and other assets worth €9.3m (£8.3m) from the Remmo Clan. 

If family members are found to be responsible for the €1bn Green Vault heist, a crime Roland Wöller, the regional interior minister for Saxony, described as  “an attack on the cultural identity of all Saxons,” the chances are the Remmo Clan can expect more heat from the authorities in future.

This article was originally posted “here