More than 100 people were arrested in the Italian city of Bari and other localities on Monday as part of sweeping investigation into organised crime in the Puglia region. Charges range from attempted murder, robbery, kidnapping, possession of weapons, personal injury with aggravating circumstance and membership of mafia-style organisation. At the centre of the investigation by the Italian Anti-Mafia Directorate are the leaders of the “Mercante-Diomede” and “Capriati” clans who are active in Bari and the surrounding provinces.
The investigation highlighted the growing and significant role played by the clans in the Pugliese criminal scene. Wiretaps obtained as evidence in the 12-year-long investigation revealed the organisations hierarchical structure with the roles and tasks of the affiliates are outlined; a strict imposition of internal rules; from the military control of the territory the use of ritualised induction practices involving a “baptism” for new recruits who become “godchildren” to a “godparent” within the organisation.
According to the wiretap obtained by Italian media, so-called “godchildren” are expected to execute the orders of their “godparents” before potentially being promoted to various higher grades in a ritual often performed with the presence of “activated” allied groups.
Among the alleged crimes being investigated by police include usury, stolen goods and other crimes against property, with particular reference to thefts in homes; the imposition / installation of slot machines in public buildings; possession of weapons and drug dealing.