Italian police say Mafia so entrenched in Australian politics and business it is impossible to stamp out
Australia is a “state of Italy”
by Charles Miranda
ITALIAN police have carried out a series of raids to smash a Mafia-led operation to smuggle cocaine to Australia that police say godfathers have now divided into six zones for trafficking drugs, extortion and money laundering.
And such is the entrenchment of Mafia links to Australia now, authorities say the country is virtually a state of Italy and it would be impossible to ever wipe out.
Authorities have uncovered a treasure trove of intelligence related to the fearsome Calabrian-based ’ Ndrangheta mafia group and their operations in Australia including members’ infiltration of key areas to assist in their trade, including transport and politics.
The police operation last week with raids on more than a dozen homes in Calabria has seen 14 members of clans linked to ’Ndrangheta arrested and charged with “criminal association linked to international drugs tracking”, namely to Australia and Canada.
One of eight refused bail is a police officer tasked with protection of a port but instead was allegedly providing guidance on evading controls and security for drug shipments.
The case was the culmination of five years of work by the Central Operational Service of the Italian National Police, a specialist Italian police squad from Calabria and the district’s Anti-Mafia Prosecutor’s Office.
Despite the success of arrests and uncovering intelligence on international operations through extensive listening devices, taps and surveillance, it may not assist the overall ’Ndrangheta crime fight in Australia.
Italian police have now classed the mafia in Australia as so entrenched, they believe it would be impossible to stamp out completely with Australian police only able to make busts where they can.
“Australia is not a target nation any more, it’s now like a state of Italy from a criminal perspective,” a senior Italian officer, speaking on condition of anonymity, told News Corp Australia.
“They are entrenched in their activities and have been for a long time. They have not got an expansion strategy with your country any more, it’s not expansion, it’s consolidation. Australia, Canada, Belgium, United States, Germany are all countries where these crimes are being consolidated.”
’Ndrangheta work as “strictly a family-based enterprise, affiliation having to be through blood relation”.
According to evidence gathered by authorities, the group had designated six “locales” in Australia for Calabrian-linked mafia, not necessarily by state but by powerbase for extended family support and drug importation markets as well as large-scale construction contracts, paying of backhanders and racketeering. Each locale has its own mob boss that reports directly to Italy
Former WA mayor faces accusations he led mafia cell
Court documents from ongoing proceedings in Italy also show Italian prosecutors allege Tony Vallelonga, who is the former mayor of Stirling in Perth, is the local leader of a mafia cell in Perth.
Court files allege that Mr Vallelonga is responsible for “making the most important decisions, imparting orders or imposing sanctions on other subordinate associates”.
The files allege Mr Vallelonga was concerned about a rival who wanted to start his own cell on Mr Vallelonga’s turf with the approval of Calabrian bosses.
Mr Vallelonga was allegedly recorded in an Italian laundromat recounting a conversation with his competitor where he allegedly said: “As long as I’m alive, you don’t get a locale [local mafia cell] … and that’s that!”
To which his rival responded: “You can’t be the man any more … enough!”
It comes after the prosecutors sought to question Mr Vallelonga over his dealings in Calabria with a notorious mafia boss.
Mr Valleonga has always denied the allegations and in a statement sent to the ABC, Mr Vallelonga’s lawyer said any allegation the former mayor had ever been involved in criminal activity was “completely without any foundation”.
Outside of the political arena, Italian police have identified another Australian allegedly working in Calabria who is part of the influential Alvaro family.
Some members of the family were recently subjects of an international anti-mafia operation when authorities seized tonnes of cocaine and made dozens of arrests.
Confidential Italian and Australian police files state that the Alvaro clan has arms in Australia.
They are allegedly headed by Adelaide construction figure Paul Alvaro, 64, and a New South Wales man.
The pair are among figures around the country, including in Griffith, New South Wales.
A police assessment said the individuals operate as “an executive board of directors” for the Calabrian Mafia.