Police uncover mafia designer clothing scam

Italian police on Friday uncovered a counterfeit clothing ring run by the Neopolitan mafia that mirrored scenes in the popular film Gomorrah. Police from the northern city of Padua issued six arrest warrants and cited 127 people after uncovering an alleged criminal organisation linked to the Camorra that was producing fake designer brands. The organisation was allegedly led by a leading member of the Ricciardi clan whose assistants organised a source of production parallel to the production of authentic designer brands for sale in the region of Lombardy and north-east Italy.

Three Italians and two North Africans were arrested, while another man was being sought by police.
The organisation is alleged to have produced the fake merchandise between Naples and Caserta in the southern region of Campania.

Like the film Gomorrah, based on the acclaimed book by Roberto Saviano, tailors were allegedly recruited by the mafia and forbidden to have any contact with legitimate Chinese businessmen in the area or face serious reprisals.

More than 200 finance police were involved in the investigation which also involved the seizure of a ship that was used to store the merchandise. Franco Manzato, councillor for consumer protection in Venice, congratulated the police for their investigation.

"I reaffirm the need for zero tolerance against fake products and scams and the maximum vigilance against crime," Manzato said.

Italy's anti-mafia chief Pietro Grasso characterised the govt's plans for judicial reform as "plain intimidation". "It is anything but a justice system reform: it is designed to intimidate, block and threaten magistrates, especially prosecutors". Grasso spoke during the presentation of an anti-mafia theatre show in Florence.

The head of the bar association in the southern Italian city of Agrigento, Sicily, Nino Gaziano, has resigned from his post amid a probe of allegations that he abetted the local mafia.

Gaziano denies the allegations and has asked to be questioned by investigators "as soon as possible."

In a parallel development, police in the Sicilian capital, Palermo, arrested 35 mafia suspects in the 'Hybris' operation. The suspects are accused of mafia association, extortion, armed robbery and drug trafficking.

Police arrested the suspects on the orders of anti-mafia prosecutors in Palermo. Almost all of the suspects have refused to answer any questions.