More than 30 mafia suspects probed for arms trafficking to Africa

By ADNKRONOS INTERNATIONAL, ROME Published: November 12, 2015

Police on Thursday carried out raids across Italy on the orders of Naples anti-mafia judges probing more than 30 suspects for trafficking weaponry to Somalia and other conflict-wracked African countries.

The raids took place in Naples, in locations in the Lazio region surrounding Rome, in the northeastern Veneto region and in the northern Piedmont region, police said.

Police uncovered machine-guns and light weapons during the raids and also seized documents and computers, Italian daily La Repubblica reported.

The suspects allegedly trafficked mainly Italian-made jet components, helicopters, machine-guns other weapons and recruited mercenaries, investigators said.

They include former ambassadors, middlemen and former soldiers and businessmen with links to the Naples' mafia's powerful Casalesi clan.

The Italian company Societa Italiana Elicotteri, which exports helicopter and jet components including for military aircraft, is being investigated in the Naples-based probe which began a year ago, La Repubblica said.

Besides Somalia, the weaponry was trafficked to Nigeria, Libya and Sudan as well as to Armenia, according to investigators.

"We can't yet give the exact value of this business but every deal that was concluded brought in tens of millions of euros," La Repubblica quoted an unnamed source at the Naples anti-mafia prosecutors' office as saying.


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