200 frozen dormice: Italian police seize stash of prized mafia dish

A small hazel dormouse is held by a person
The ‘Ndrangheta mafia eat dormice at reconciliation banquets. (Photo by CARSTEN REHDER / DPA / AFP)
Three people have been arrested in Calabria, the heartland of the 'Ndrangheta mafia, after discovering a stash of frozen dormice, a favourite mob food, the Repubblica daily said on Saturday.

The ‘Ndrangheta serve dormice, a protected species, during reconciliation banquets held to bring peace between warring families, according to wildlife protection organisation LIPU.

Police found several species of the animal in cages during a drug bust in Delianuova, a town in the hills of southern Italy, along with over 200 frozen dormice packaged for sale and consumption, the Repubblica said.

READ ALSO: EXPLAINED: What is Italy’s ‘Ndrangheta mafia?

Poaching is widespread in the Aspromonte mountains in Calabria, with hunters setting thousands of traps in the woods and selling captured dormice illegally to mobsters and restaurants, LIPU said.

The ‘Ndrangheta, based in the region that forms the tip of Italy’s boot, has surpassed Sicily’s more famous Cosa Nostra to become Italy’s most powerful mafia group and operates across the world.

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