Rome police seize ‘gaudfather’ villas
Rome’s police have seized eight villas built illegally by a mafia family in a southeastern suburb of the capital and bulldozers are set to flatten them in the coming weeks.
Italian Interior Minister Matteo Salvini and Rome Mayor Virginia Raggi watched as 600 officers took control of the Casamonica clan’s villas.
The mayor uploaded a video to Facebook showing an unsubtle interior with life-sized porcelain statues of leopards and gilded horses and a ceiling fresco.
“It’s a good sign for Rome,” Salvini told the media. “Law and order is returning to pieces of the city. The party is over.”
Italy’s new populist government has previously targeted other homes belonging to the Casamonica clan, which has ethnic Roma-gypsy roots.
In June, members of the Casamonica criticised Salvini’s plan to carry out a census of Italy’s gypsy population. His extreme-right Lega is heavily anti-immigrant.
Raggi of the anti-establishment Five Star Movement (M5S) said the Quadraro homes breached the city’s construction and landscape laws and some “incorporated whole sections of the historic Felice aqueduct”, a 16th-century waterway.
She accused the Casamonica of replacing the authorities in the district and of “terrorising” honest Romans.
“Today is a historic day for the city of Rome and for Romans,” the mayor said. “We are putting an end to years of illegality and are sending a strong statement to the Casamonica clan.”
About 30 Casamonica members were evicted in the operation, which also uncovered drugs, according to the Corriere della Sera.
Raggi said the Casamonica villas were built 30 years ago and symbolised official “impotence in the face of mobsters”. She hailed it as the most impressive operation ever by Rome’s police against the city’s organised crime.
The Casamonica made headlines in 2015 when it staged a Hollywood-style funeral for its boss with a horse-drawn carriage, flower petals distributed from a helicopter and the theme from “The Godfather” movies playing outside the church. Posters strung on the railings of a city basilica read: “You have conquered Rome, now conquer paradise.”
The high-profile funeral from the hitherto shadowy organisation sparked a backlash, with politicians demanding a legal assault on the Casamonica.
It remains unclear whether the families will be relocated by the state. The demolition of the villas will be done before the new year, officials said.
The authorities have also conducted several raids this year against homes owned by the Spada clan in Ostia, a coastal suburb of Rome.
The Casamonica clan is not filled with strict minimalists. Picture credit: YouTube