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'Ndrangheta boss turns informant

Antonino Lo Giudice claims bombing campaign

18 October, 11:59
'Ndrangheta boss turns informant

(ANSA) - Reggio Calabria, October 15 - A top boss in the Calabrian 'Ndrangheta mafia has started working with police and has claimed responsibility for a string of attacks including one bomb against Reggio Calabria's main courthouse and another against a top prosecutor.

In the wake of the attacks, the Italian government earlier this month sent in the army to guard judicial buildings in Reggio.

Boss Antonino Lo Giudice is the second 'Ndrangheta capo to turn informant in a month after Roberto Moio, key breakthroughs in the fight against the criminal organisation which is tighter-knit than Sicily's Cosa Nostra.

Reggio Prefect Luigi Varratta confirmed reports that 'Ndrangheta bosses were worried about the success of recent operations against them.

"The extraordinary work of judges and police is bothering the clans. The mafiosi are keyed up, and reacting nervously".

'Ndrangheta is believed to have eclipsed Cosa Nostra as Italy's most powerful crime group and has stretched its reach to Rome, Bologna, Milan and European cities as it invests its huge cocaine profits.

Reggio Chief Prosecutor Giuseppe Pignatone said anti-mafia prosecutors were evaluating Lo Giudice's statements to assess whether he could be admitted to Italy's witness protection programme, but the signs were "good".

In particular, on the basis of one of Lo Giudice's first tip-offs, police found a weapons cache including 11 kalashnikovs and some small arms.

A Reggio public-safety panel called in the troops on October 6 after a string of incidents including threats and bombs against Prosecutor General Salvatore Di Landro, and a bazooka sent to Pignatone. On October 5 an anonymous caller told police to look near the city's anti-mafia HQ for "a surprise" for Pignatone.

Police found a disarmed Yugoslav-made M80 bazooka under a mattress.

Pignatone had previously been the object of threats on May 27 when a letter containing three bullets was sent to him.

Then, on June 16, Di Landro's driver found the bolts on his car loosened.

Two months later, on August 26, a bomb damaged the entrance to Di Landro's city-centre home, blowing out windows in the vicinity.

The campaign of intimidation, which police attributed to the success of the recent crackdown on 'Ndrangheta and the unprecedented 'turning' of a boss, began on January with a firebomb that scorched the entrance to Reggio's main courthouse.

'Ndrangheta, whose name means 'virtue' or 'courage' in a local form of ancient Greek, once dealt mainly in kidnappings and extortion and fed off the pickings of public tenders, having developed a broad net of political contacts.

That network has strangled swathes of the region, investigators say, with 'Ndrangheta able to buy off friends and enemies thanks to their chokehold on the European cocaine trade.

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