Italian Mafia Plundered WWII Ships for Bombs, Arrested

Italian authorities arrested eight individuals reportedly connected to a mafia clan for plundering WWII ships Thursday, February 5. Their reason for looting the WWII-era vessels — they wanted the bombs and the ships’ weapons arsenal.

The eight mafia members who were arrested are purportedly part of the Franco Clan of the  ‘Ndrangheta mafia in Reggio Calabria. This said region is located at the toe of Italy’s boot-shaped land.

Aside from looting warships for vintage bombs and ammunition, the arrested group was also accused of a series of other crimes that include drug trafficking and extortion.

According to reports, the mafia group looted the Laura C Italian Navy ship which was sunk off the Calabrian coast during WWII. The bombs and other ammunition the mafia men were able to get from the WWII-era vessel are believed to strengthen the arsenal of the said clan. According to authorities, the ‘Ndrangheta mafia has, over the decades, risen up to become one of the most powerful organized crime groups globally.

That day’s raids not only yielded the vintage explosives the mafia men took. The Italian police was also able to seize assets estimated to amount to about €10 million including properties.

Reports regarding the weapons haul came just days after a WWII bomb found in central Italy went missing. The prosecutor of Bologna had opened an investigation after an unexploded 70-cm bomb which was spotted in Fontanelice last December when a river flooded mysteriously disappeared.

The said bomb was set to be removed last January 15. However, the bomb got stolen just a few days short of the scheduled removal.

Valter Giovannini, the prosecutor’s spokesman, described the bomb theft as a very dangerous and stupid thing to do.

Heziel Pitogo

Heziel Pitogo is one of the authors writing for WAR HISTORY ONLINE