Early Wednesday morning, an anti-mafia squad seized possession of a well-known restaurant in Rome’s historic district, a block from the Pantheon, believed to be owned and operated by the Italian mafia.
The popular tourist restaurant, called the “Barroccio,” is the third Roman restaurant this year to be confiscated from the same owner, a Calabrese man named Salvatore Lania. In March, anti-mafia agents expropriated two other restaurants of his on the same street, “Er Faciolaro” and “La Rotonda.”
Lania was arrested on March 12 during an earlier sting operation conducted by Italy’s Anti-Mafia Agency (DIA) on charges of false registration of assets. In a move worthy of Eliot Ness and Al Capone, the DIA found a way to arrest Lania for tax evasion, since his declared yearly earnings have been close to zero.
In the same month, the DIA impounded property and real estate Lania owned worth ten million Euros. The property and bank accounts seized Wednesday had an approximate value of a million euro, according to reports.
The Italian mafia is broken into several independent branches that are regionally constituted. The 47-year-old Lania is believed to be a member of the ‛Ndrangheta, the branch of the mafia associated with the southern Italian region of Calabria.
The ‘Ndrangheta is one of the largest and most powerful criminal organizations in the world, and its drug trafficking, extortion and money laundering activities are thought to account for at least three percent of Italy’s gross domestic product.
According to Italy’s national agricultural federation (Coldiretti), the number of restaurants under the control of organized crime in Italy is at least five thousand. A joint report issued by Coldiretti, along with two other associations, said that the food and catering industries have become one of the main businesses of the Italian underworld, primarily because the infiltration of organized crime into these services facilitates the laundering of funds obtained from illegal activities.
Wednesday’s blitz executed a decree of the investigating judge of the court in the capital, at the request of the anti-mafia agency.
Follow Thomas D. Williams on Twitter @tdwilliamsrome.