The President, Sonny Richichi: “We have been denouncing the phenomenon for years: these horses end up in clandestine slaughter. Checks must be increased immediately and the penalties increased".
Horses abused to death to bring money into the coffers of the mafia with clandestine races. The "Cesare" operation, conducted last night by the Carabinieri of Messina and coordinated by the DDA, dismantled a criminal group linked to the Galli mafia clan and raised the veil over a practice, that of illegal horse racing, which IHP has been denouncing for years.
"Our great applause to the Police and the Public Prosecutor's Office for this massive operation" is the comment of Sonny Richichi, President of IHP, Italian Horse Protection, an association active in the protection of equidae based in Volterra, Tuscany.
"With a great deal of work they have brought to light a hateful and dangerous phenomenon: 33 arrests are not few, but the penalties for these crimes must be severely and immediately increased, which are characterized by the link with two equally worrying phenomena: mafia and clandestine slaughter ".
The “Cesare” operation revealed the control exercised by the mafia in the business of illegal bets on illegal horse racing, carried out during the night in the city streets of the Messina area. The Messina mafia group dealt with the Santapaola clans of Catania to regulate relations and disputes regarding the clandestine races between Messina and Catania stables, carried out in the border territories between the two provinces. Among the suspects was also a compliant veterinarian who administered drugs to animals to increase their performance. Among other things, allegations of mafia-type association, clandestine horse racing, clandestine betting on unauthorized sports competitions, animal mistreatment are contested
“The clandestine races are not the pastime of four thugs, but the exhibition and measurement of power among mafia groups, through those icons of strength and pride that are horses” - continues the President of IHP -. ”The second link is with the clandestine slaughter to which horses exploited in clandestine races are sent when they are no longer good for running, after having been doped and mistreated. Even if obviously it cannot be counted, clandestine slaughter is a pervasive phenomenon, a real plague. The official numbers on slaughtering make us think that controls are scarce and deficient, that there are a large number of horses slaughtered outside the official circuits, very often coming from clandestine races, destined to escape the counts of the Ministry of Health.”