City council member arrested in anti-mafia operation in Italy

An Italian city council member from the municipality of Bari was arrested for a mafia-affiliated vote-buying scheme during an anti-mafia sweep last week that saw 19 arrests between Puglia and Palermo, Italian state media reported.

Bari is located in Puglia, home of the Sacra Corona Unita, the third most powerful mafia group in Italy. (Photo: loloieg, Flickr, Licence)ACouncilor Francesca Ferri was arrested for her role in a 2019 scheme where she paid between 25 and 50 euros per vote to the leader of a local mafia clan, Salvatore Buscemi, according to Ansa. In exchange, Ferri would turn a blind eye to mafia activity in the area.

Ferri’s partner, Filippo Dentamaro, a former member of the regional council and director of a local football club, was also arrested. As well as being charged with mafia-like association, the two are also accused of abusing a ten-year-old boy.

“You don’t need to have the mayor, because if you can’t have the mayor, you don’t have to go crazy,” Dentamaro allegedly told Buscemi as he pitched his and Ferri’s usefulness to him. in a conversation that came to light in an Italian court last week.

“We command the administration with four councillors, nobody in the history of Valenzano has ever had four municipal councilors,” Dentamaro said, according to BariToday.

“Neither the aedile, nor the Christ, nor the Madonna” would be worth as much in the eyes of the mafiosi as four advisers, he underlined.

Bari is located in Puglia, the cradle of the Sacra Corona Unita, the fourth most powerful mafia group in Italy after the Calabrian ‘Ndrangheta, the Sicilian Cosa Nostra and the Neapolitan Camorra. The fifty or so clans in the group are said to bring in more than two billion euros a year thanks to their illicit businesses, which range from drug trafficking to prostitution, including arms trafficking, extortion and lending.

Ferri’s alleged scheme came just two years after the city council of another municipality in the Bari region, that of Valenzano– of which Ferri was the deputy mayor – was dismantled due to the extent of mafia infiltration in the institution.

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