Inside a mafia ecstasy sting
The Calabrian mafia was responsible for the world’s biggest ecstasy importation in 2007. As Fairfax Media and the ABC can reveal, it didn’t go to plan…
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A former Western Australian mayor is allegedly running a Calabrian Mafia cell in Perth and answers to a Godfather in Italy, according to explosive court files.
The files, from ongoing Italian court proceedings, reveal that businessman and former long-time Stirling mayor, Tony Vallelonga, is accused by Italian prosecutors of holding the “role of leader within his locale [Mafia cell]” and of “making the most important decisions, imparting orders or imposing sanctions on other subordinate associates”.
A joint Fairfax Media and Four Corners investigation uncovered the files in Italy. They allege that Mr Vallelonga discussed with Mafia boss Giuseppe Commisso the “spiny problem” of another Australian who wanted to start his own Mafia cell in Vallelonga’s West Australian patch, and had sought the approval of Calabrian Mafia bosses.
A bug hidden by Italian anti-Mafia investigators in a Calabrian laundromat allegedly recorded Mr Vallelonga telling Commisso in August 2009 that he had previously confronted the Australian man who wanted to start his own Perth cell, telling him: “As long as I’m alive, you don’t get a locale [local Mafia cell] … and that’s that!”
Mr Vallelonga is also allegedly recorded on the bug claiming that his Perth rival responded defiantly, telling Mr Vallelonga: “You can’t be the man any more …Enough!”
Mr Vallelonga also allegedly said the other man wanted to report directly to Mafia bosses in the Calabrian town of Siderno, rather than answering to Australian godfathers.
“I’m answering to Siderno,” the aspiring Perth Mafia figure allegedly told Mr Vallelonga.
The Italian court files allege that the Calabrian mafia boss, Giuseppe Commisso, instructed Mr Vallelonga to handle Australian problems himself, rather than bringing them to Italy.
Of the other Australian, Mr Commisso allegedly said: “We can’t allow him these things”.
The bug allegedly also records Mr Commisso telling Mr Vallelongaz: “If you aren’t good there [in Australia], you’re not good here either.
“You mustn’t come to me with people, if you have problems, you should go and fix them yourself …if you’re always here … I tell him no? If you are here and there [Australia] you’ve had problems and you haven’t fixed them, we can’t do anything for you”.
While Mr Vallelonga’s alleged links to Mafia figures in Calabria were previously reported in 2011 in Australia and Italy – and fiercely denied by the WA businessman – the detailed evidence and allegations from the more recent court files have never been publicly revealed.
Mr Vallelonga’s lawyer, John Hammond, told Fairfax Media that Mr Vallellonga denied any involvement in criminal behaviour and that the Italian allegations were “completely without any foundation”.
The court files reveal that anti-Mafia magistrates are seeking to prosecute Mr Vallelonga, who served four stints as Stirling mayor between 1997 and 2005. But Italian authorities may struggle to extradite Mr Vallelonga because the proposed charges of Mafia association do not exist in Australia.
The allegations come after Fairfax Media last week reported confidential warnings by police that the Calabrian Mafia had infiltrated Australian politics.
The court files say Mr Vallelonga is, according to the evidence assessed by the magistrates, “completely familiar with mafioso organisation”.
It is alleged that the Australian had discussions about “the ambitions for autonomy of one who, in dissent against him, wanted to declare the place and open his own locale in Australia, legitimising it with the approval of the società of Siderno.”