Austrian father and son jailed for supplying guns to Italian mafia

The pair denied knowingly dealing with the mafia, insisting they had thought they were working with "vegetable traders".

Austrian father and son jailed for supplying guns to Italian mafia
Guns seized by Italian antimafia police. Photo: Nunzio Mari/AFP

An Austrian court on Tuesday slapped jail terms on a father and son for supplying hundreds of illegal weapons to mafiosi from Italy's feared Camorra.

A court in Klagenfurt, Austria, gave the men, aged 74 and 48, jail terms of 24 and 20 months respectively after they were found guilty of supplying some 820 hand guns and dozens of Kalashnikov assault rifles to the group since 2011.

When the trial started, the pair had denied knowingly dealing with the mafia, insisting they had thought they were working with “vegetable traders”.

The pair can still appeal the verdict.

A Naples prosecutor announced in March that Italy and Austria had busted an international arms trafficking ring that supplied the Camorra with guns, including “weapons of war”, to start a war with other clans.

The year-long Italian investigation led to the arrests of 22 people, including the Austrian gunsmiths and several Camorra couriers.

The Camorra is one of Italy's three main organised crime groups, along with Sicily's Cosa Nostra, commonly known as the mafia, and the 'Ndrangheta, centred in the Calabria region.

READ ALSO: 'New generation' of young Italian mafia heirs arrested


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Austrian police smash people smuggling ring

Police have smashed a group believed to have smuggled tens of thousands of people with two of them found suffocated in a truck last year, Austria's interior ministry announced on Thursday.

Austrian police smash people smuggling ring

A total of 205 people suspected to be linked to the group have been arrested in central and eastern Europe, while 80 vehicles have been seized, Interior Minister Gerhard Karner said.

Of the arrests, 92 of them were in Austria, and the rest in the Czech Republic, Hungary, Slovakia and Romania.

Investigators, who began looking into the case early last year, believe the group smuggled more than 36,100 people, including children, from Hungary to Austria.

With this they raked in an estimated 152 million euros ($159 million), making this the biggest operation uncovered in Austria in recent years, according to Karner.

“This is an important success against organised crime and a serious blow to the smuggler mafia,” Karner said in a statement. Those smuggled were trying to reach western European countries, including Germany and France.

They were brought to Vienna and then smuggled on through other groups, the statement said. In one incident linked to the group, the bodies of two people were discovered last October when Austrian authorities stopped and searched a van at the border with Hungary.

Twenty-seven others were crammed in the vehicle, whose driver fled the scene, but has since been arrested in Latvia and extradited, according to the ministry. In another incident in January linked to the group, an alleged smuggler fired at an army conscript when troops tried to stop his vehicle. The man has since been arrested in Hungary. Austria this week once again extended border controls on its frontiers with Hungary and Slovenia.

Such controls provide authorities “with important insights into smuggling organisations and their procedures,” Karner said.

The European Court of Justice in April criticised Austria’s long-term controls on its border to Slovenia. It ruled that EU member states can only prolong border controls when “confronted with a new serious threat affecting its public order or its internal security”.