Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Mafia arms, drugs, prostitution ring smashed - Italian police

ROME (AFX) - A Mafia drugs, arms and prostitution network was smashed overnight in an operation spanning six European countries and involving dozens of arrests, Italian police said.

Most of the 80 arrests took place in Italy and Albania while others were detained in Germany, Ukraine, Kosovo and Croatia, in an operation codenamed 'Harem'.

Police said profits from the criminal network went to the Calabrian Mafia in Italy.

The network allegedly forced eastern European women into prostitution in Italy and trafficked drugs as well as guns destined for the Ndrangheta organised crime group in Calabria, southern Italy.

'The operation delivers a serious blow to an Italo-Albanian organisation involved in the trade of human beings and the traffic of drugs and narcotics,' Italian Interior Minister Giuseppe Pisanu said in a statement.

'Large quantities of drugs have bein seized in Calabria, in other regions of Italy and in Albania, Kosovo, Croatia, Ukraine and Germany,' the statement added.

Italian security officials believe Ndrangheta organised the mid-October murder of Francesco Fortugno, the deputy chairman of Calabria's regional council, who died after being shot several times in a local election office.

Copyright AFX News Limited 2005. All rights reserved.


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