It was the largest mafia operation in 15 years. In dawn raids 3,000 police officers in Italy and the U.S. arrested more than 320 people they suspected of links to the Calabrian mafia, known as 'Ndrangheta. Those figures, charged with crimes including murder, extortion, arms and drug trafficking, and criminal association, included Domenico Oppedisano, 80, reported to be the head of the family.
The organization is considered more powerful and ruthless than the Sicilian mafia. The raids came, according to Agence France-Presse, after its northern branch tried to split from the southern, sparking a war. Analysts, according to the BBC, say that 'Ndrangheta had expanded out of Calabria into organized crime across Europe and drug trafficking around the world. Its annual turnover is estimated at about $55 billion.
Police seized assets, arms, and drugs, and arrested many businessmen working in health care. They prefer that field, says Agence France-Presse, as "it allows them to establish contacts with politics and with public administration."
Authorities told the Los Angeles Times that the raid had hit the gang's "nerve center" and dismantled key structures. It came, said an investigator, after police bugged a dry cleaner owned by Francesco Commisso, a suspected member. "It was almost like a confessional," Diego Trotta told the Times. "People would go and see him every day and tell him about their problems and discussions they had with other mafia members. Francesco would take decisions on who would get a certain building contract, who would get a share of the traffic of toxic waste, drug trafficking, etc."
Earlier this year one of the organization's top figures was caught after police used Facebook connections to track him down. Pasquale Manfredi, who called himself Scarface after the movie character, was accused of killing a rival with a rocket launcher.
There were no details on the arrests in the U.S.