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Del Gaudio (DNA) in Vienna: ‘Organized crime and weapons are inseparable facts’

VIENNA, OCTOBER 9- The Deputy Prosecutor from National Anti-mafia and counterterrorism Directorate Marco Del Gaudio shared Italy’s experience in fighting against trafficking in firearms  during and event at UNODC in Vienna. “I want to be extremely clear: Mafia and the use of weapons are an inseparable phenomenon” said Del Gaudio, stressing that “efforts ought to be based on two main strategic actions: first, the acquisition of as much information as possible on the illegal possession of arms, and then the timely exchange of this knowledge among the main actors of the efforts against organized crime”.

These two actions are not always distinct, indeed they often overlap. “In both cases, violence can be conducted within criminal organizations – for example when conflict arises between mafias or disciplinary actions against a group member are carried out- but also outside of them -for example through the ‘strategy of terror'”, said Del Gaudio who revealed -citing an extensive UNODC study from 2010- that mafias are often reluctant in engaging themselves with arm commerce, because it’s less profitable compared to other illicit businesses and, at least in Italy, it’s currently more risky in regards to penal sanctions. “The results of different investigations shows that each criminal group has members that, due to their experience and contacts, are charged with the task of obtaining firearms, which are then stored and distributed to other members according to circumstances or specific requests”.

In Italy, the greatest efforts focus on Mafia-related criminality. Investigators -even when they confiscate large weapons arsenals used by criminals- usually do not initiate inquiries to learn their origin and for this reason it’s difficult to find investigations dedicated specifically to the sale of arms, for such investigations are often ‘lateral’ to other inquiries. Most weapon arsenals are found in rural areas, close to old homes, within farms, behind double walls, in bunkers, in underground caches or wooden boxes. “Another creative way of storing fire arms -explained the Deputy Prosecutor- was recently discovered in Naples, where seven pistols and their munitions were hidden behind the altar of a church, the entrance of which was monitored by video surveillance. We have furthermore verified that most weapons used in Italian organized crime come from the Balkans . We therefore deemed it necessary to ask Countries in this geographical area for help, using instruments for bilateral cooperation provided by Direzione Nazionale Antimafia and some judicial offices of the Balkan Countries”.

Among the instruments for bilateral cooperation, Del Guadio mentioned the recent “Declaration of intent”, signed by DNA alongside the majority of the prosecutors offices that work in the fields of crime and terrorism in Balkan countries, such as Romania and Ungheria. “We believe that a further and important contribution can be given by the Customs agencies using the AIDA system.

Del Gaudio then presented the results of an investigation started in Naples in 2016, following the arrest of two people holding a kalashnikov and a barrel shotgun: the inquiry allowed for the immediate understanding that the weapons were being kept for the head of a criminal clan, which operates close to the city. The investigation confirmed that the Camorra often appoints individuals with ties to the criminal group as keepers of arms. The criminal groups tends to select individuals without a criminal record or known crimes, for they avoid attracting attention. These “guardians” oreceive a monthly payment in exchange. “The investigation allowed us to identify a network dedicated, for over ten years, to a vast international arm traffic, inclusive of weapons of war, like kalashnikov and skorpion machine guns. The leader of this association was an individual from Naples already brought to our attentions in 2011 by a collaborator of justice, who exposed him as a supplier of arms for Camorra groups in the province of Naples”.

Since 2018, the inquiry has been developed in collaboration with the the Austrian Police. “I want to underline that this type of initiative represents precisely the type of cooperation we are looking to promote: when ties to other countries emerge they must be immediately communicated, with the aim of initiating a ‘parallel penal procedure’ in the Country in question. In this case, the Austrian authorities immediately accepted the invitation and, by opening their own inquiry using the documents produced by the D.D.A. of Naples, were able to identify all foreign suppliers. A total of 16 customers were then identified, among them representatives of various groups affiliated to the Camorra of Naples and the Ndrangheta of Calabria. In February 2019 the antimafia prosecutor in Naples arrested 19 people involved in the scheme.

 

The Austrian investigation furthermore revealed ties to Slovenia. Some of the weapons (in particular weapons of war, like the Kalashnikov) which the two Austrian suspects trafficked in Italy were supplied by a Slovenian citizen. Overall, considering both countries, 22 criminals were arrested, 139 firearms and 1600 munitions seized. According to more detailed information provided by the Austrian authorities, a total of 791 pistols (branded Walther, Smith & Wesson, Heckler & Koch, Taurus, Weihrauch, Steyr, Holek) were ordered for reselling purposes by Italian individuals. (@OnuItalia)

OnuItalia
OnuItaliahttps://onuitalia.com
Il giornale Italiano delle Nazioni Unite. Ha due redazioni, una a New York, l’altra a Roma.

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