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Top Camorra boss arrested near Naples PDF Print E-mail
Nov 19, 2010 at 04:03 PM
Antonio Iovine, captured but still smiling
Italian police and justice officials are celebrating this week following the arrest Wednesday of Antonio Iovine, a Neapolitan underworld boss who had been on Italy's "most wanted" list for 14 years. The capture of Iovine took place in Casal di Principe, a town outside Naples that has been the headquarters of the Casalesi clan of the Camorra, the subject of Italian author Roberto Saviano's bestselling "Gomorrah", which two years ago was made into a film. It was considered a major breakthrough by law enforcement here, leaving only two top bosses - Matteo Messina Denaro, affiliated with Sicily's Cosa Nostra, and another "camorrista", Michele Zagaria. still on Italy's Most Wanted list,
"I have been waiting for this day for 14 years", said Saviano, who because of threats against his life by the Casalesi has been living under armed escort for years. "Today is a wonderful day for the fight against the mafia," Interior Minister Roberto Maroni told reporters after the arrest.

On the following day, he, Justice Minister Angelino Alfano and police chief Antoni Manganelli drove down to Naples to congratulate the policemen who had discovered Iovine's hideout and carried out his arrest. Ironically, Saviano and Maroni became embroiled in a dispute on the day before Iovine's arrest when the Interior Minister took umbrage with Saviano's reference to alleged relationships between Camorra exponents and members of Maroni's political party, the Northern League, based predominantly in the northern region of Lombardia.

The capture of Iovine, who was arrested with an incomprehensible smirk on his face (incomprehensible since he is clearly destined to spend the rest of his life behind bars) is just the latest in a series of major successes by the present Italian government,. Its success would appear to make short shrift of the accusations against Silvio Berlusconi by some of his enemies that he used Mafia connections or Mafia money to set up the real estate kingdom which he later parleyed into a media empire.

I can't speak to the issue as I am not in a position to evaluate the facts that the accusers cite as evidence. But - although one of his close associates, a Sicilian public relations man turned politician, Marcello Dell'Útri, has been tried, and convicted, of consorting with the Mafia, Berlusconi himself has never been charged with mafia activities by any of the zealous magistrates that have investigated him for other crimes such as tax evasion or fraud.

The fact is that in the last two years, the Berlusconi government, under the direction of Interior minister Roberto Maroni, have arrested 410 members of Italy's three branches of organized crime, and waged a total of 661judicial police operations. Almost €18 miliardi of goods and/or money have been confiscated and added to the Justice department's anti-crime fund.

This, of course, is good. But it is unclear to what extent it is having an effect on the strength of organized crime here and its infiltration of the Italian economy. Only recently, Italian investigators have been turning their attention to mafia activities in Northern Italy. According to one well-informed journalist from Corriere della Sera, Gian Antonio Stella, in the first half of 2008, the Italian Currency Exchange office passed on information to the Milan branch of the Anti-Mafia Office (DIA) regarding 6,092 "suspicious" financial operations.


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