Sunday, November 24, 2019

The Cacciatori: Secret Bunkers And Mountain Hideouts: Hunting Italy's Mafia Bosses


Lorenzo Tondo at the Guardian offers a piece on an Italian special military unit that hunts organized crime fugitives. 

On the slopes of the Aspromonte mountains, Pasquale Marando, a man known as the Pablo Escobar of the Calabrian mafia, the feared ’Ndrangheta, built a secret bunker whose entrance was the mouth of a pizza oven.

Less than 10 miles away, Ernesto Fazzalari, who allegedly enjoyed trap shooting with the heads of his decapitated victims, lived in a 10 square-metre hideout in the formidable southern Italian range. 

When authorities came for him in 2004, Fazzalari, then the second most-wanted mafia boss after Matteo Messina Denaro of the Sicilian Cosa Nostra, had already escaped through a secret tunnel under the kitchen sink.

Before his eventual arrest in 2016, Fazzalari spent 20 years as a fugitive in the Calabrian mountains, where the wanted men of the ’Ndrangheta have for decades planned and built elaborate mirror cities underneath their villages. It is a literal underworld of bunkers located behind sliding staircases, hidden trapdoors and manholes linked by endless tunnels that merge and separate, leading to escape routes among the sewer system or amid the brambles of a dry river bed.

To smoke them out of their holes the Italian authorities formed a special military unit composed of elite and highly trained soldiers known as the Carabinieri Heliborne Squadron, or the Cacciatori, literally: the hunters.

The Cacciatori have in the last 25 years arrested almost 300 fugitives, whose mugshots are now displayed like trophies on a large bulletin board in a room in their headquarters. They have also uncovered over 400 bunkers, described by investigators as “works of superior engineering”.

You can read the rest of the piece via the below link:

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2019/nov/22/calabria-cacciatori-hunting-italy-underground-mafia-bosses-ndrangheta



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