More than 1.6 billion ($2.6 billion) worth of assets have been seized
from a family of five Sicilian pensioners in one of Italy’s largest
anti-Mafia operations in 20 years, say Italian police.
brothers and two sisters, described as “business people”, allegedly
received help from the island’s Cosa Nostra Mafia to win construction
contracts related to public works.
About 800 buildings –
including houses and factories – motor vehicles and dozens of bank
accounts have been seized from Carmelo Virga, 66, his brothers Vincenzo,
78, and Francesco, 71, and sisters Anna, 76, and Rosa, 68.
Carmelo’s son Gaetano claimed the Mafia warned him: “Remember that you have children.” Photo / Thinkstock
Lusi, from Italy’s Anti-Mafia Investigation Department (DIA), said:
“The sum is enormous for a family that until 30 years ago was made up of
carpenters, labourers and housewives.”
The seizure is the first
stage in the investigation process. The family, from Marineo in the
suburbs of Sicilian capital Palermo, have not been arrested.
Carmelo’s son Gaetano, who has collaborated with anti-Mafia
organisations in the past and has given evidence against extortion
rackets, told police he and his family were consistently threatened by
the Mafia in 2010.
He claimed the Mafia warned him: “Remember that you have children.”
Gaetano said an alleged extortionist came to the family’s office to demand protection money but was sent away.
operation by the Palermo-based court was aimed at “entrepreneurs who
belong to the Marineo Mafia linked to the Corleone clan”, the DIA said.
The Corleone clan are a once-dominant faction within Cosa Nostra.
The DIA claims to have uncovered how the Virgas benefited from the backing of the Cosa Nostra in bidding for construction work.