Machine Guns, Assault Rifles and Air-to-Air Missile Seized From Neo-Nazi Group in Italy

Police in Italy have uncovered a staggering arsenal of weapons amassed by neo-Nazi figures in several cities in the north of the country.

Officers raided multiple locations on Monday and seized arms including automatic rifles, submachine guns and even an air-to-air missile, ANSA reported.

The raids followed an operation led by the General Investigations and Special Operations Division force based in Turin, which specializes in offenses linked to organized crime and terrorism.

Police had been tracking far-right figures that had taken part in the fighting in eastern Ukraine, where pro-Russian militants are locked in a conflict with the central government in Kiev. The Associated Press reported that those arrested had taken part in the fighting on behalf of the pro-Russian groups there.

Raids took place in Milan, Varese, Pavia, Novara and Forli, La Stampa noted. Among the haul were combat-style knives, assault rifles, submachine guns, pistols and shotguns, along with various pieces of Nazi propaganda and memorabilia.

Turin, Italy: Police have conducted a raid against right-wing extremists (with links to Italian fighters in the Donbass), arresting 3 people & seizing a large amount of weapons, including an air-to-air missile belonging to the Qatari armed forces.

— ISPI Terrorism (@ISPI_Terrorism) July 15, 2019

Among the Nazi paraphernalia were swastika-emblazoned signs and roundels, as well as an old street sign bearing the name "Adolf Hitler Platz," seemingly from a square previously named for the World War Two-era dictator.

But the most shocking find was a functioning air-to-air missile belonging to the Qatari armed forces. It is not clear how the Matra missile found its way into the hands of a far-right group in Italy, but La Stampa reported it was made in France in October 1980.

The missile was seized from a hangar at the Rivanazzano Terme airport in Pavese. Other illegal materials, including two rocket launcher containers, were found alongside the Matra.

Three people were also arrested, including a former customs anti-fraud inspector. Fabio Del Bergiolo, 50, had previously run for a Senate seat for the far-right group Forza Nuova—meaning "new force"—in 2001. Police said Del Bergiolo was suspected of trying to sell the Matra missile for around $530,000 to an official working for a foreign nation.

Many of the weapons seized were found at Del Bergiolo's home in Gallarate, the Associated Press noted.

The other two men arrested were Alessandro Michele Aloise Monti, a 42-year-old Swiss citizen, and 51-year-old Fabio Amalio Bernardi. Both were also linked to the plot to sell the Matra missile.

"The seized material deserves the utmost attention," commissioner Giuseppe De Matteis said, according to La Stampa. He explained that officers found more than 20 assault rifles in the raids. The operation had been running for more than a year, he said, but rapidly gathered pace in recent months.

rifles, Italy, guns, weapons, neo-nazi, seized
This file photo shows semi-automatic rifles for sale at a gun shop on February 15, 2018 in Orem, Utah. Multiple rifles and other weapons were recently seized from neo-Nazi figures in Italy. George Frey/Getty