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Cops Seize Hundreds of Dormice, Ruin Mafia Banquet

Animals were found during drug raid in Italy
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 18, 2021 6:40 PM CDT
Dormice, a Mafia Delicacy, Seized in Drug Raid
Dormice are a protected species in Italy.   (Getty Images/Michel VIARD)

(Newser) – Police in Italy may have spoiled some mobsters' banquets when they raided a cannabis farm. Authorities say the Saturday raid in southern Italy found dormice in cages and more than 200 that had been frozen and packaged for sale or consumption, the BBC reports. The animals, a protected species in Italy, were a delicacy in Roman times and apparently remain so today for high-ranking members of the 'Ndrangheta mafia clan. According to wildlife protection organisation LIPU, senior 'Ndrangheta members serve dormice during "reconciliation" banquets to bring feuding factions together.

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LIPU says poaching of the nocturnal rodents is widespread in the mountains of Calabria, with animals captured in traps sold to gangsters or restaurants, AFP reports. Three people arrested in the raid will be charged with killing and captured protected animals as well as drugs offenses, reports Corriere Della Calabria. Police say more than 700 cannabis plants were seized in the raid. The dormice were found after the search was expanded from the farm to nearby ruins and other properties. (Read more Italy stories.)

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