GENERICO.ruCrimeItalian music star Tony Colombo arrested for links to the mafia

Italian music star Tony Colombo arrested for links to the mafia

The singer was suspected of having close contacts with criminal groups: smuggling from Ukraine

The Italian singer, “Neomelodica” star Tony Colombo was arrested as a result of a raid against the Neapolitan mafia. The singer, whose music is believed to be linked to criminal gangs, and his wife were among 27 detained in police raids targeting the Di Lauro crime family.

The singer was suspected of close contacts with criminal groups: smuggling from Ukraine Tony Columbo

Before announcing his retirement from singing in 2020, Antonio “Tony” Colombo was perhaps the best-known singer of neo-melodico, an Italian pop genre that resonates strongly in mafia strongholds in southern Italy, The Guardian writes.

His songs were so highly regarded by the underworld that when Tony Colombo married Tina Rispoli, the widow of murdered Neapolitan Mafia boss Gaetano Marino, in 2019, dozens of Camorra members attended their wedding.

Coming from Palermo himself, Colombo proved so popular among the Italian mafia that, according to police, he eventually began working for an organized crime group. He and his wife Tina Rispoli were among 27 people arrested this week during a crackdown on members of the Neapolitan mafia. According to police, the two are suspected of collaborating with the clan of jailed gangster Marco Di Lauro.

Prosecutors say Colombo, 37, is believed to have received illicit funds from the clan, disguising them as proceeds from his musical career. Colombo and Rispoli deny any involvement in organized crime.

Among the clan's businesses was a ready-to-wear line called Corleone, a reference to the fictional mafia family from the Godfather films. The clan has also reportedly released an energy drink called “9mm”, named after the caliber of the pistol's cartridges, writes The Guardian.

Having released more than 20 albums and performed concerts throughout Italy, Germany, Canada and US, Tony Colombo announced his retirement from singing in 2020, a year after marrying Tina Rispoli, whose first husband was killed on an Italian beach holiday in 2012.

Colombo's latest song, Ti aspetto all'Altare (I'm waiting for you at the altar), has received almost 60 million views on YouTube.

Neo-melodic music, born in the 1980s as a reaction to social change and the struggles of traditional Neapolitan song genre canzone napoletana, is often described as the Italian equivalent of gangster rap, explains The Guardian.

This is not the first time that neo-melodic singers have been arrested on charges of having links to the mafia. The stars are often related to mafia bosses or have their careers financed by mafiosi, The Guardian notes.

In addition to charges of mafia membership and extortion, those arrested on Tuesday are suspected of rigging auctions and smuggling tobacco products. Italian police have taken notice of the new “entrepreneurial” activities of the Di Lauro clan, whose leader was arrested in 2019 after 14 years on the run.

They have largely laid down their arms after a long and bitter war for control of the drug trade. Instead, they are said to have focused on organizing auctions, using violence to intimidate other bidders and drive down property prices before selling assets for a significant profit.

The clan also purchased gyms and bookmakers, as well as supermarkets, smuggled cigarettes from Bulgaria and Ukraine, often using intermediaries.

Police reported seizing assets worth almost 8 million euros in the raids.

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