Twenty soccer fans held in Italy over drug-fuelled violence

Bergamo, March 8 (IANS/AKI) A magistrate’s son was among 20 Atalanta ‘ultra’ fans arrested in northern Italy on Tuesday on suspicion of drug trafficking, extortion, robbery and acts of violence.

The suspects were held during raids by Italian police in the northern province of Bergamo that uncovered large quantities of drugs at several addresses.

Police said they also issued eight precautionary measures and 30 stadium bans during Tuesday’s operation codenamed ‘Never any Joy’.

The Atalanta ultras bought and took drugs before matches both outside and inside the stadium, police said.

Fans used secret language to buy and sell drugs, mainly cocaine and marijuana, in and around the stadium, after which “acts of violence” often followed, investigators said.

A group of Italians, an Albanian and a Serbian were among 26 people implicated by probe of the violence that began in September 2015, investigators said.

Suspects in the probe also include a 73-year-old and a 63-year-old, police said.

“During the course of the probe, hundreds of hours of intercepted calls and hidden camera footage have helped document dozens of cash exchanges, the violent robbery of a drug courier and several extortion attempts on drug users unable to pay their debts,” police said in a statement.

Police had to intervene in violent clashes in January 2016 in the centre of Bergamo after an Atalanta-Inter game.

–IANS/AKI

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