Italian authorities demolish illegally-built villas and pools belonging to notorious crime clan

Nick Squires
·2-min read
Police officers outside one of the villas earmarked for demolition - Ansa
Police officers outside one of the villas earmarked for demolition - Ansa

More than 100 Italian police took part in an operation on Wednesday to demolish villas illegally built by a notorious crime clan that combines elements of The Sopranos with The Godfather.

The eight villas and warehouses were constructed without planning permission by the Casamonica family.

The family and their associates have amassed a fortune through extortion, loan sharking and drug-dealing.

Anti-mafia prosecutors describe them as “the most powerful criminal structure” in Lazio, the region that encompasses Rome, and dozens of family members have been arrested and jailed over the years.

The villas, heavy on bling and gilded furniture, boasted swimming pools, marble-topped tables and extravagant murals depicting galloping horses. The entrances were decorated with giant, mock-Roman urns.

On the mantelpiece of one villa, police found a giant bottle of Champagne as well as a box set of the television series Gomorra, based on the criminal underworld of the Camorra mafia in Naples.

In one villa police found DVDs of the Italian crime series Gomorra - Ansa
In one villa police found DVDs of the Italian crime series Gomorra - Ansa

The operation came two years after a similar effort to demolish another eight villas built by the clan in the Quadraro district of the city.

Virginia Raggi, the mayor of Rome, watched the demolition go ahead in the Romanina area of the capital.

"Our battle to restore legality continues," she wrote on Twitter. “After the villas of Quadraro, we are knocking down more illegally-built property belonging to the Casamonica clan.”

In June, 20 members of the Casamonica clan were arrested after two embittered ex-wives turned informants. One of the ex-wives said family members had threatened to dissolve her in acid.

Around 100 police officers were deployed during the demolition operation - Ansa
Around 100 police officers were deployed during the demolition operation - Ansa

A special taskforce of 150 police seized assets worth €20 million from the family, finding stashes of cash, gold watches, jewellery and firearms.

Wire-tapped conversations showed that the Casamonicas regard Rome as their exclusive domain, with family members complaining that other criminal groups, such as the Camorra mafia from Naples and the ‘Ndrangheta from Calabria, were trying to muscle in on their turf.

The family achieved notoriety five years ago when they gave an extravagant sendoff to a clan elder which involved a helicopter dropping rose petals from the sky, a coffin borne in a black and gold carriage pulled by six black horses wearing plumes, and a band playing the theme tune from The Godfather.