The mayor of Rome started a huge operation to tear down eight irregular villas owned by the Casamonica criminal family. But all that — literally — glitters is not gold.
By Edoardo Murari
On November 20, the mayor of Rome Virginia Raggi started a huge operation to tear down eight irregular villas in the southeastern area of the capital, in cooperation with the governor of Lazio, Nicola Zingaretti.
The owners are members of the Casamonica criminal family, a Romani clan from Abruzzo region. Inside the flashy mansions, built in a site of archeological interest with strict ecological limits, the agents found lavish and gold-plated furniture, statues of tigers, canopy beds and Renaissance style frescos.
A long overdue operation
This action has seen the involvement of more than six hundred traffic policemen and armed troops, but also some politicians trying to claim credit for the realization of the plan were on the spot. In particular, the Interior minister Matteo Salvini was careful to smile for the cameras when he started to demolish personally one of the houses with a bulldozer.
Setting aside the universally shared enthusiasm, this operation should have been realized twenty years years ago. In the past indeed, many Casamonica affiliates have been accused of murder, extortion, money laundering, drug trafficking and pandering, for an estimated turnover of 92 million euros. In this sense, the reason of the delay in the demolition of the villas can be found in the strong political influence that this family has gained during years of illicit activities.
Who are the Casamonica?
In 2013, a picture of Luciano Casamonica with the former major Gianni Alemanno was widely reported on the press, as they were involved in the trial on the widespread Roman political corruption net known as “Mafia Capitale”. However, the notoriety of their name reached its peak in 2015 with the funeral of Vittorio Casamonica, the former debt collector of the Roman criminal organisation called “La Banda della Magliana”. In the main church of Tusculano neighbourhood, his coffin was carried out on a coach by six black horses, with the Godfather theme as background music and even a non-authorized helicopter throwing roses petals.
In the Netflix TV series Suburra about today’s Roman organized crime, the fictional Anacleti family was inspired by the Casamonica and, for the next season, the production has hired Luciano Casamonica with the task of recruiting Romani actors for the set.
The problem of illegal building
This operation was long overdue but, without broader and structural plans, it won’t be enough to tackle the power of the Casamonica family. Moreover, keeping on track with the problem of illegal building, a practice that is still really common in Italy, the Parliament has recently approved a planning amnesty for the infringement of the building regulation in Ischia, giving to this operation that accent of underlying incoherence typical of Italian politics.