Police have arrested 94 people during a massive dawn raid on the Sicilian Mafia, in connection to a scam in which the mob defrauded the European Union out of millions of euros in farm subsidies.
Between 2010 and 2017 Sicilian Mafia crime families received over 10 million euros from the European Union in subsidies that were intended for farms in the province of Messina. In connection to the massive fraud, police have arrested 94 people and shut down 151 farms in one of the largest operations against clans of the Cosa Nostra (Sicilian Mafia).
Two rival clans in Tortorici, Sicily, the Batanesi and Bontempo Scavo families, are believed by police to have conspired together in order to scam the European Agricultural Guarantee Fund (EAGF) and the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development (EAFRD), according to La Repubblica.
“The boss just needed to call over the phone a farmer to steal his land. Often, feared by the mere name of the mobster, the farmer gave up his land without even trying to rebel, for fear of retaliation,” Sergio Mastroeni, a local judge, said in comments reported by The Guardian.
Amongst the 94 arrested was the 39-year-old mayor of Tortorici, Emanuele Galati Sardo, the heads of the two crime families, and local officials who helped the mob navigate the EU bureaucracy.
The crime families involved in the scam would threaten local farmers who refused to enter into the scheme by destroying their land, killing their livestock, or even burning down their houses.
“They want to take our lands, their goal is to bring the farmer to bankruptcy by destroying his crop or burning his lands. In that way they will be able to buy the land for very little money and benefit from EU agricultural subsidies”, said local farmer Emanuele Feltri.
In 2018 Breitbart News reported that Italian mafia groups have also branched out their operations to monetising the business of illegal immigration into the country. It was found that found that Italian mafia groups are aligning themselves with foreign gangs and co-ordinating mass illegal migration to Italy, making it “one of the primary and most profitable businesses”.
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