Late with Ben Harvey: You could ‘live next door to the Italian Mafia’ in Perth’s suburbs
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Late with Ben Harvey: You could ‘live next door to the Italian Mafia’ in Perth’s suburbs

Thousands of Italian mafia members are active in Australia and had gone largely unnoticed until recently while “pulling the strings” of other criminal gangs, the Australian federal police revealed Tuesday.

On Up Late, Harvey detailed the mafia’s “blurred” connection to WA.

Late with Ben Harvey

“WA’s mafia connections have always been there…but a little fuzzy,” Harvey said on Tuesday night’s episode.

“We know that Italian families were behind the big marijuana trade in the 1960s and 1970s and the illegal casinos of Northbridge in the 1970s and 1980s.

“20 years ago, the Fremantle mob families launched an attack on police officer Pryce Scanlan, the current boss of the AFP’s Western Region…


People could live next door to members and have no idea, AFP Assistant Commissioner Nigel Ryan said Tuesday.

It is believed that up to 5000 mafia members are active in Australia, competing with their counterparts in Italy.

The Calabrian mafia partners with other organized crime groups, including biker gangs and Asian or Middle Eastern crime groups, to collaborate on drug importation, money laundering, and violence.

They are led by high-ranking figures with authority over their clans, keeping a low profile and running businesses to form a legitimate front.

Over many decades, those companies have slowly legitimized the illegitimate wealth obtained by organized crime.

“People may start living next door to members of the ‘Ndrangheta without knowing it,” Ryan said.

“They have managed to stay under the radar while living in modest homes. They channeled the illegitimate wealth into their legitimate construction, farming, and hospitality businesses.

“In many ways, I would say that the ‘Ndrangheta are actually the ones pulling the strings of other organized crime groups, especially the more violent groups, such as outlaw biker gangs.”

Years ago, Operation Ironside, an AFP-led covert investigation into organized crime syndicates that trade illegal drugs and weapons.

At the heart of the operation was a special encrypted communications device called ANoM.

Officers gathered information from the ANoM app to understand how transnational serious organized crime syndicates – including the ‘Ndrangheta – operate and communicate.

Since then, laws have been passed that give the AFP additional powers to identify and disrupt criminal syndicates.

“The (Surveillance Legislation Amendment Identify and Disrupt Act) warrants, combined with information gathered from ANoM, have given us the best opportunity today to identify and pursue our next goals,” said Mr. Ryan.

“These targets now include Italian organized crime, namely the ‘Ndrangheta.”

The federal police will also look for individuals who facilitate money laundering, which costs billions annually.

“The ‘Ndrangheta is not just an Australian problem; they are a global problem,” Ryan said.

“They are responsible for 70 to 80 percent of the world’s cocaine and flooding Australia with illegal drugs.

“They are pulling the strings of Australian outlaw biker gangs behind some of the most significant acts of violence in our communities.”

About 51 Italian organized crime clans in Australia, and the AFP has confirmed that 14 are ‘Ndrangheta.

The Calabrian mafia is responsible for serious crimes committed worldwide. The AFP works with the Italian, American, Spanish, and Brazilian authorities to dismantle their finances, communications, and operations.