37 'Ndrangheta arrests around Milan
Operation 'dismantled remains of clans in Milan and Monza'11 September, 16:56
Crime boss for the Giusanno district north of Monza, Ulisse Panetta, and members of the Cristello and Corigliano crime families were among those arrested.
Investigators remarked that local businessmen victimized with extortion or loan-sharking by the gangs did not report the crimes to police – just as their counterparts in southern Italy keep their silence or 'omerta'.
A new 'pentito' or collaborator from the Lombardy 'Ndrangheta – Michael Panaja - offered fundamental leads for the investigation leading to Tuesday's sweep.
Panaja was arrested with another collaborator, Antonino Belnome, a man considered among those responsible for the 2008 murder of Carmelo Novella.
Novella was the 'boss of bosses' among Lombardy's 'Ndrangheta gangs, and was executed for wanting to sever ties with the parent crime group in Calabria. Panaja informed the police of what had happened among the 'Ndrangheta gangs in Lombardy after a massive blitz of 170 arrests in July 2010, which led to accelerated trials for 110.
In Italy, accelerated trials are considered an indicator of guilt, as suspects usually submit to accelerated trials in exchange for leniency in their sentencing. Panaja told police how, after the 2010 sweep, the gangs of Giussano and Seregno continued to intimidate small businessmen – especially those from Calabria – with extortion and usury, in addition to trafficking drugs and keeping weapons.
The operation was coordinated by state police and by one of Milan's most feared anti-mafia prosecutors, Ilda Boccassini, along with prosecutors Alessandra Dolci and Cecilia Vassena.
'Ndrangheta has been active in northern Italy for decades.
It also has branches in Germany and other northern European countries as well as Australia and Canada.