Migrants protest at the Center in Isola Capo Rizzuto, where the local mafia was allegedly cashing in on migrants' hospitality and assistance. Credit: Francesco Arena /ANSA
Migrants protest at the Center in Isola Capo Rizzuto, where the local mafia was allegedly cashing in on migrants' hospitality and assistance. Credit: Francesco Arena /ANSA

The Italian authorities have asked for 108 people implicated in the probe into alleged mafia infiltration in the management of a migrant reception centre in the province of Crotone in Calabria will be sent to trial.

Antimafia prosecutors in the city of Catanzaro have asked for the suspects in the so-called 'Jonny' probe into alleged infiltration by Calabria's 'Ndrangheta crime syndicate in the management of the reception centre for asylum seekers (CARA) at Isola Capo Rizzuto in the province of Crotone to be sent to trial. 


In total 108 people will appear before the preliminary hearings judge in Catanzaro. The suspects include the former governor of the organisation "Misericordia" in Isola and of the Inter-regional Confraternity of Calabria and Basilicata, Leonardo Sacco, and the local parish priest, don Edoardo Scordio. 

They face various charges including mafia association, extortion, illegal possession and carrying of a weapon, fictitious property registration, embezzlement against the state, aggravated fraud, public sector procurement fraud and alleged tax crimes. Prosecutors claim the CARA in Isola had become the Arena clan's 'ATM machine'. 

Operation Jonny 

Operation Jonny was launched at dawn on 15 May 2017 following a complex probe leading to over 100 arrests. Investigators showed how the Arena clan, which has its stronghold in Isola Capo Rizzuto, allegedly managed to take possession of 36 million euros out of the 105 million euros allocated by the State for services to migrants, and particularly the catering service.

"There wasn't enough food to go round and often it was of the kind usually fed to pigs," said Catanzaro prosecutor Nicola Gratteri at the time. 

The criminal system 

Prosecutors say it was Sacco, a businessman with political connections, who enabled the clan to infiltrate the public procurement process and win the contracts with companies specially created for this purpose. 

Other 'ndrine were also allegedly involved, to the extent that the funding was allegedly at the basis of the 'mafia peace' reached by local clans in 2004 after a long turf war. Prosecutors claim Don Scordio organized the system of resource exploitation and was able to launder money in Switzerland thanks to his brother who lives there. In 2007 alone the priest is alleged to have received 132,000 euros.
 

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